Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Doctor Who-The Next Doctor
                                        After landing in 1850's Victorian era London during the Christmas season,the Doctor finds himself confronted not only by a Gorilla-like creature with a Cyberman like mask on but a man who,much to his confusion,also claims to be the doctor. Wielding an antique tool for a sonic screwdriver and a hot air balloon for a TARDIS this "other" doctor claims that he,along with his companion Rosalita whose life he'd saved,were investigating the mysterious deaths of two individuals in London-one of whom was a mathematics professor new to town named Jackson Lake. In the meantime,one of the most recently deceased funerals is crashed by Miss Hartigan,who runs one of the local workhouses and leads an attack upon the procession by the doctors old adversaries the Cybermen. The two doctors,working in concert without the actual one revealing his identity of the other,soon become aware of this. It isn't long before the new doctor begins to have re-awakened memories that torment him. 

                       Turns out that when the doctor had repelled the Cybermen in his last encounter with them,they fell through the time vortex to land here,seeking a new CyberKing to replace their departed one and finding a willing mistress in the bitter and vengeful Miss Hartigan. At this time the doctor is forced to reveal that the new doctor is in fact Jackson Lake,whose wife was killed by the Cybermen and his one son kidnapped by them into Miss Hartigan's workhouse,which is being used to generate the energy needed to create the giant CyberKing. The Cyberman had unintentionally given Lake an infostamp giving him personal information on the doctor,and believe Lake really is the doctor. When Miss Haritigan is made into the new cyber king and nearly destroys all London,the doctor using Lake's hot air balloon appeals to her letting go of her anger and not transforming humans into Cybermen  as she planned. He is forced to kill the CyberKing she's now become by sending it back into the time vortex. And in the end even makes time to join Lake and his rescued son for a Christmas feast before departing.

                   This wonderful and heartwarming story is one of my favorites of the tenth doctor Christmas tales. David Tennants doctor himself takes the role of assistant for a change to David Morrisey's superb portrayal of Jackson Lake,a noble and deeply caring human being actually more than worthy of the mantle of a time lord himself. Though Lake is tortured by the loss of his wife,and absent minded in some of his interpretations of time lord technology, his motivation in saving his son shows his courage and depth of spirit. As the doctor pointed out,it was more than the time lord's memories that motivated his actions. The really captivating character is the protagonist Miss Hartigan.  A 19'th century English take on Annie's Miss Hannigan,her main motivations are proving her mettle in a male dominated world,no matter the orphans she exploits in the process. And that bitterness and anger have led her,as the doctor pointed out,into being more of a pawn to the Cybermen more than she thinks. Although again forced into destroying his nemesis rather than reforming her this is a sweeping,epic tale of heroism,redemption and a celebration of good heartedness.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Doctor Who-Voyage Of The Damned
                                        After narrowly escaping a merging with his fifth incarnations TARDIS as well as the departure of Martha Jones,the doctor suddenly finds himself an unintended stowaway on board the space liner Titanic,built for tourists from the planet Sto based on the famous Earth vessel to experience the Christmas holiday on Earth. With the help Mr.Cooper,with his skewed understanding of Earth history transports the Doctor,the waitress Astrid Peth and passengers Rickston Slade,Foon and Morvin Van Hoff as well as the diminutive red alien Bannakaffalatta to an abandoned London,which is so empty due to fears of the previous two years alien incursions. This does little to encourage the doctor as he's noticed some odd occurances on the space liner already. A group of golden angel shaped robots called Hosts are starting to malfunction en masse. And every time the doctor tries to search for information on this all he can see is an advertisement for the company that constructed the starliner and it's CEO Max Capricorn.  Disaster strikes when the liners captain,dispondant for unknown reasons over retirement,deliberately crashes the liner into a group of asteroids. And it's up to the doctor and his new companions onboard to help him. 

              The vessels nuclear engines will crash it into Earth if unattended. And the TARDIS was blown back to Earth by the impact. While it's soon revealed that the Hosts have been sabotaged and are now intent on killing the passengers and crew of the Titanic,the doctor soon finds out that his companions are challenged in helping him. While all trying to be helpful to his cause,all of them are in fact victims of Sto's nearly impossible economic woes. In the end,Foon and Morvin both sacrifice themselves to save the others from the Hosts where Bannakaffalatta reveals himself to be a cyborg,who are considered second class citizens on Sto.  After discovering that Max Capricorn,himself a cyborg whose entire sales campaign for the liner was fraudulent. So he had sealed himself off in an uncharted area of the ship and used the Hosts to protect the crew and passengers from his presence. In order to stop him,Astrid and Bannalaffalataa both sacrifice themselves. In the end the doctor,finding Astrid's remains while whering the transport band are partially complete,allows the remainder of her energy to float aloft in space as she'd wished. And as for Mr.Copper,one of the two survivors of the events with the doctor and facing prison on Sto for his own fraud,is left by the doctor to live on Earth as a wealthy man to pursue his own dreams before the doctor himself departs.

              There's a lot of humor in this story-from Mr.Copper's misinformation based warnings to the passengers about an evil Santa god and the "the war with the Turkey's from Turkey". However for the most part,this story reflects through the filter of science fiction much of discord that was actually occurring in the world at the time it was being made. While enjoying their vacation to Earth,the passengers on board the Starliner Titanic are mostly rather desperate people such as Asrid Peth,portrayed wonderfully by Kylie Minogue,Mr.Copper as portrayed by 'Keeping Up Appearances' Clive Swift as well as Rickston Slate,Max Capricorn himself. All of them were generally motivated by ambition to trick each other and themselves into getting ahead in life,even if it meant breaking the law. Foon and Morvin,while a happy couple both are forced to sacrifice themselves to help their crew. Whereas the Alonzo Fame,the midshipmen shop by the ships captain who caused the entire disaster,ends up having to be the voice of reason despite his confusion and injury. The tenth doctors constantly lonliness is once again reinforced when Astrid,whose fallen in love with him,is sacrificed along with the cyborg
Bannalaffalataa. A very touching and often chilling reminder of how difficult joy has to come when faced with financial destitution.           

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Doctor Who-The Runaway Bride
                                            In Cheswick, a temp for the firm HC Clements named Donna Noble is about to get married when she suddenly finds herself on board the TARDIS,vocally demanding an explanation. Reminding him that he had just said his final goodbyes to companion Rose Tyler,he opts to take her up on her demands to return to Cheswick but arrives in Oxford. After getting her a taxi to return to her wedding,the doctor notices that her driver is one of the same robotic henchmen disguised as Santa Claus ornaments. After engineering a daring escape for the bewildered bride,the TARDIS is spent of energy and they are forced to attend the reception which has apparently continued without her. The doctor presents Donna with a dampening ring to keep her from the robots. However an attack from them results in tree ornaments-turned-improvised-explosives before Donna and the Doctor make their escape.  The doctor than probes Donna as to where she worked and how she met her fiancee Lance.  The doctor is able to use a reconstructed cell phone to reveal that HC Clements,the company she worked for had one sole share holder: Torchwood. There the doctor meets up with Lance,where he discovers a lower basement button in the elevator only available by executive key. Able to use his sonic screwdriver to override this they soon find themselves in an underground laboratory. 

                                 Here the doctor reveals to Donna her body has been infiltrated with deadly Huron particles which have allowed her body to become pure energy which is now linked with the TARDIS. Barely understanding any of what is happening around her,they soon meet up with the cause for all these trouble: the empress of the Racnoss,a race the doctor believes to have been extinct. Seems Lance was actually working for the empress,had poisoned Donna with the huon particles and didn't actually love her at all.After revealing she plans to use to human race to feed her children living in the Earth,the doctor takes Donna back to the beginning of the solar system to investigate,only to find the Racnoss ship is in fact the core of the Earth itself that put the entire planets formation into motion. Upon returning,Donna is captured along with Lance by the Empress-both of whom are to be fed to her children at the Earth's core. The doctor,after failing to negotiate with her to have her settled on another world,is forced to destroy her-the last of her kind just as himself. Upon returning her home,the doctor invites Donna to join him as a companion. After being so overwhelmed,she decides to remain on Earth to improve and enrich her life.

                              Catherine Tate does a terrific job in this dazzling sci-fi dramady that additionally serves as a character sketch for Donna Noble. A grown woman who is deprecating herself right out of a life of genuine romance and adventure she winds up having to beg someone to marry her. And in turn ends up not only being betrayed personally but having her own planet betrayed in the process. Awkward and slow on the uptake,Donna seems on the surface to be shallow and unintellectual. At the same time after witnessing the creation of the Earth,and being mixed up in the doctors complex emotions she realizes hers was only a case of poor self image. And that she really wanted to become a greater part of the world around her. The doctor,while participating in his usual witty prattle and some funny moments,including accidentally flooding the streets with money from an ATM in Oxford and using the WUB's at Donna's reception to amplify his sonic screwdriver,he deeply misses Rose Tyler who he shows strong romantic emotions for. His unusual reaction to the elongated death of the final Rachnoss speaks even more to the characters emotional complexities in this sweeping and touching holiday based story.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Doctor Who-The Christmas Invasion
                           As Jackie Tyler prepares for the Christmas Holiday here daughter Rose suddenly reappears with the TARDIS,with a freshly regenerated doctor who is weak. While nursing the doctor and reacquainting herself with life with her mother and boyfriend Mickey,who still wants Rose to return to Earth with him,a puzzling series of events occur. As Earth sees itself in a new golden age as the Martian probe Guenevere approaches it's destination,the first transmissions reveal an alien life form of unknown origin. While walking outside  Rose and Micky encounter metal Santa decorations with flame throwing horns. Upon escaping back home they,along with Jackie fend off a spinning,murderous Christmas tree. Awakening the doctor in desperation,he uses the metaphor of a "pilot fish" to describe what is occurring. Upon doing an online search for the meaning of this phrase,Micky convinces Rose and Jackie that a far larger threat is afoot. At this time Prime Minister Harriet Jones soon consults with UNIT,the same organization the doctor helped found,in order to deal with the threat coming upon them. Just as UNIT translators begin to make sense out of the alien language,a blue light beam engulfs the heads of some of the personal and they,along with as it turns out many people all over the world,are in fact going to their rooftops en mass-prepared to commit mass suicide. 

                         After UNIT concludes the one commonality these people have is an A+ blood type,the director of the Guenevere project confesses that he himself was involved in including information on humanity,including blood type for A+ on the probe and that the entire disaster is his fault. Despairing that the still unconscious and regenerating doctor will not be able to help them,they trio take refuge with the doctor in the TARDIS and find themselves transported inside the giant spaceship that has approached Earth,belonging to the Sycorax race who have been sending the message. A violent warrior race,the kill off the project director while apologizing for his error as well as another high up officer of UNIT. After a failed attempt by Rose that the Sycorax find amusing,the translation matrix in the TARDIS activates and the now regenerated Doctor emerges. By the laws of the Sycorax culture,the doctor challenges their leader in a sword duel to the death. The doctor wins,though barely avoiding losing his hand due to the last parts of his regenerative energy. Upon arriving on Earth Harriet Jones orders the Torchwood organization to use a new bit of alien technology to destroy the Sycorax vessel,much to the shock and dismay of the inherently pacifist doctor. After celebrating Christmas with the Tyler's,Rose comes to except the new doctor and decides to continue her journey's with him.

                      This is probably one of the very best regeneration stories in the entire Whoinverse. And although largely absent from the first half of the story,once David Tennant swings into action as the tenth doctor,his personality as the doctor is as fully formed as an actor playing the role for years. Particularly important is during the tail end of the story when the doctor,disappointed in Harriet Jones' decision to destroy the Sycorax ship,is able to create a scandal by telling the man next to her that she looks a bit tired. Another example of the doctor "trolling" humanity with their weaknesses,in this case the hunger for gossip. As a Christmas story is functions a lot more than one might think. In the presence of the Sycorax,ornaments become snipers and Christmas trees become stealth assault weapons.  There's plenty of drama and dark comedy in and around that as well. One particular element is that,even as Rose and her loved ones all come together to save their planet when the doctor cannot be there to help them,Rose for her part is frightened that she will not be able to do the time lord justice. And for his part,David Tennant probably couldn't have had a better debut story as the doctor if he'd tried. A very cinematic and eccentric example of one not so typical holiday miracle.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

               Wanted to take this time out to say happy birthday to Matthew Waterhouse,who portrayed Adric on Doctor Who from 1980 to 1982 who turned 50 on December 12'th. Also to Sarah Sutton,who turned 51 on December 15'th.  Both of them were among the youngest actors to portray a Doctor Who companion and my best goes out to both of them on their special weekend!
Doctor Who-Castrovalva
                              Immediately following the doctors regeneration Tegan,Nyssa and Adric are set upon by security guards believing they'd broke into the Pharos Project to breach security. Following their escape the doctor undergoes a post regenerative delirium,believing himself to be his earlier incarnations. Bewildered and confused the Doctor requests his three companions return him to the zero room,an area of the TARDIS free from the eletro chemical indifference found in the rest of the TARDIS so he can successfully complete this apparently difficult regeneration. He appoints his companions to take charge while he remains in suspended animation in the zero room. As Tegan and Nyssa attempt to consult the TARDIS's flight control manual for instructions,the air condition inside malfunctions as Nyssa soon realizes because the TARDIS has somehow become trapped in moment zero. In their delirium of trying to find the world of Castrovalva,which is a harmonious world the TARDIS computer tells them will help regenerate the doctor successfully and therefore set a course outside the big bang outside which endangers all their lives,Adric is taken captive by The Master for his own purposes. While failing to build an alliance with Adric,the Master soon develops another plan for him.

                         After Tegan believes she successfully landed the TARDIS,she and Nyssa drag the doctor in his make shift miniature zero chamber to the city of Castrovalva,which Tegan sees at walking distance. After a long walk to this particular local,she and Nyssa are set upon by what appear to be a group of masked hunters. One of them is a is a librarian named Shardovan,who along with the local leader the Portweeve insist the doctor get some rest. Things continue to be amiss however when,while consulting books from the library on the history of Castrovalva,even Tegan is puzzled by the inconsistencies she witnesses. Following a visit from Adric to Nyssa warning her not to reveal his presence,the doctor awakens to the fact Adric is the key presence missing. While trying to leave Castrovalva to find him with his two companions,he realizes the entire city is part of (and it's population defined by) a time/space loop with no resolution.  Helping Shardovan to realize this the doctor engineers an escape for his companions when Portweeve is revealed to be the master. And Castrvalva,it's history and very existence a complete contrivance to destroy the doctor. Having escaped Adric returns with Tegan,Nyssa and the now fully regenerated doctor to continue their voyages in the TARDIS.

                           This concludes a loose trilogy of stories with The Master as the connective thread,and which led to the regeneration of Tom Baker's fourth doctor to Peter Davison's fifth in this story. And this is probably one of the most involved regeneration stories from the classic Doctor Who series as the doctor pays quite a price for this particular incarnation of himself. Throughout most of the story the Doctor is rather absent,leaving Tegan and Nyssa as new arrivals to have to put aside their doubts about the doctor they've just met and put their minds together to pilot the TARDIS even the doctor,at the best of times,has trouble dealing with. Also present is the issue of control. The doctor,abley portrayed by Davison as having a complete crisis of identity (his use of the vocal and physical inflections of William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton is a highlight of his acting in this story) which The Master uses to create a whole society to distract the doctor. There's also an interesting presidents in the contrivance of Castrovalva itself. As they continue to repeat the same events,the natives of the city become extremely shocked when they realize how psychically numb they've become to their own unreality. It's almost the concept of 'The Matrix' seventeen years before the fact. But as with Doctor Who,the outcome is inevitably a positive one.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Doctor Who-Logopolis
                                                  Following his mission to Traken,the Doctor points out to Adric via a seldom visited area of the TARDIS that the device is beginning to decay. And that part of that has to do with the TARDIS's malfunctioning chameleon circuit. In order to repair this problem the doctor intends to take the TARDIS to the computationally inclined world of Logopolis,who will be able to measure the dimensions of an actual police box in relation to his  dimensionally transcendental  device in order to make the proper repairs. However a warning by the TARDIS's cloister bell soon reveals  the Master has found a way to lock the TARDIS into a recursive time loop with each other. And it isn't long before they land near the River Thames. There a new flight attendant hopeful named Tegan Jovanka is on her way to what she thinks is her final interview for the position when her aunts car develops a flat tyre. Thinking the TARDIS is an actual police box,the terrified Tegan soon finds herself caught inside the TARDIS in the same loop as the doctor and Adric.

                                      Upon arriving at Logopolis the doctor,Adric and the very confused Tegan encounter Nyssa. The Logopolitans have,for a reason even unknown to them,seem to have created an exact replica of Earth's Pharos Project in order to transmit the vital computational data that is there specialty. Considering they are able to create all matter around them using what they call  block transfer calculations rather than machines,the reason for them creating this soon becomes known,also bringing difficult news for Nyssa. The Master has been interfering in the Logopolitans calculations in order for them to facilitate his plans for destroying Earth and the doctor. This also reveals to Nyssa that he commandeered her father's body to accomplish this. He has also used a tissue compression eliminator to kill anyone in his way,one of whom happened to be Tegans aunt as well. What even the Master doesn't know is that Logoplis's block transfer calculations are part of what keeps the entire universe in balance,he has created for himself  an entropy effect for the entire universe.

                                     The doctor faces complications of his own as,on Earth he encountered an ivory humanoid Adric refers to as The Watcher,who appears to have told him sound catastrophic end is near. Even after one failed attempt to thrawt the TARDIS after the other,the doctor forges an allience with the Master in order to restore Logopolis to proper function. Since the doctor understands he has to accomplish the next part of his mission with the Master alone,he leaves Nyssa and Adric alone in the TARDIS which,when accidentally thrown out of space time reveals a collapsing universe-including Nyssa's own home world of Traken. Tegan has elected to follow the doctor,in her eyes her key to getting home to Earth whereas the TARDIS set a course their to assist the doctor. He and the Master have arrived at the actual Pharos Project. The doctor soon learns his mission goes beyond saving Logopolis and the universe,but also the Master from taking this opportunity to destroy him and now the universe itself. The Master is forced into escape,at the cost of the doctors own life. When Tegan,Nyssa and Adric arrive at the scene,the doctor informs them his end has been prepared for. Turns out the Watcher was an shadow of the doctors all along,representing his fifth regeneration which than occurs before their eyes.

                                For Doctor Who this is a very history story as it represents the end of Tom Baker's run as the fourth incarnation of the time lord known as The Doctor. He is still unchallenged in terms of the length of time he played the role. Also of note is the fact that this story in many ways paved the way for the complex writing and fast paced atmosphere of the modern incarnation of Doctor Who. Each of the four parts of this serial is almost a distinct story in and of itself. But aside from the Master's plans and the introduction of Tegan and Nyssa as companions of the doctor,the key theme of this is entropy. First of the TARDIS,then of Logopolis and therefore the entire universe. The idea of a planet able to develop physical structure from a unique form of mathematical calculation was a very forward thinking concept of physics to introduce as a catalyst to this story. As with many of Tom Baker's later stories,it actually finds the doctor seriously concerned for the well being of himself,the TARDIS and his companions. And the stakes are incredibly high. A very spacious,expansive and intelligent story with which to conclude Doctor Who's most acclaimed eras.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Doctor Who-The Keeper Of Traken
                            On Adric's first journey's alone with doctor aboard the TARDIS,they find that they are on an automatic course to the planet Traken,known throughout time as a great source of peace and tranquility. This is accompanied by the presence source of the course correction The Keeper,the overseer and main inspiration for the people of Traken. He summons the doctor and Adric to his world,where a creature called the Melkur has appeared and somehow manipulated Kassia,a woman about to marry Consul Tremas,who is about to inherit access to the Source,the key to the Traken Union's technological power. And that he senses a great evil trying to manipulate this. At the beginning of his arrival,the doctor and Adric see this first hand when,while sent by the Keeper himself that Kassia encourages the other leaders of the Traken Union he is in fact the invading evil and should be kept out from under foot at all costs. The Traken Union itself is under debate about what the doctor represents including the Fosters,overseers of the spiritual welfare of the capital. One of these Fosters,a man named Niman has come under the influence of a cult of Melkur of sorts who,along with Kassia have become convinced that the peaceful Traken should now take up arms against preceived invaders to their peace. 

              Facing an allience and eventual imprisonment by the apparently brainwashed Kassia,Tremas and his brilliant daughter Nyssa assist the Doctor and Adric in uncovering what is really occurring on their world. Realizing Kassia's plans are to install herself as the new Keeper as the old one is dying,leaving the Melkur in control of the planet,Nyssa helps the TARDIS crew and her father to escape imprisonment. She and Adric than devise a plan on board the TARDIS for a servo shutdown of the source,disabling the Melkur's plans. Once Kassia is officially installed as Keeper,she herself is vaporized as the Melkur takes control. Noticing it's unusual level of mobility,the doctor manages to enter to find out that his old nemesis the Master is behind all this disorder,having disguised his TARDIS as the Melkur in order to cheat his death now that his 12'th regeneration is coming to an end. Just in time the servo shutdown is successful,the doctor escapes and the people of Traken thank him. Upon leaving however,what the doctor does not see is that the Master,disguising his TARDIS as a grandfather clock which attracted Tremas's curiosity and allowed the Master to commander his body to the bewilderment of daughter Nyssa.

                From the very beginning even the doctor,a man whose very likely to have seen it all in time and space is highly impressed with the intellectual and cultural achievements of the Traken Union,who have taken up his own adage of intellect over reactionism to build a peaceful society for themselves and those involved with them. Throughout this serial Tom Baker is astounding,with his well rounded display of facial expression in different parts of the story illustrates the doctors disappointment and even frustration as the presence of the Master begins to denigrate their accomplishments all too quickly-first by manipulating Kassia and than intimidating the council of the Traken Union itself. This is a well written and acted story that focuses primarily on the very core of what Doctor Who stands for sociologically speaking. And by having the Master as the main protagonist brings the doctor,already strongly motivated in this particular adventure,into a far strong position than even he'd anticipated.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Doctor Who-Warrior's Gate
                                              On board a space ship carrying some type of previous living cargo,the ships navigator escapes into a white void. Meanwhile the TARDIS,still trapped and seeking a way out of E-space encounters a system of ripples emanating from outside the space/time continuum called time winds. These winds bring with them a hair covered human who address's himself as Biroc,claiming their past to be his future. The TARDIS finds itself in the same void from which Biroc claimed. While Romana and Adric stay behind to repair a K-9 damaged by the time waves the doctor goes ahead to investigate further. Pretty soon the scanners indicate the presence of humanoids approaching. It's the crew of the other space ship who've also found themselves here due to Biroc's escape . So Romana decides to follow the ships crew,led by Rorvik to investigate on her own,leaving K-9 in the hands of Adric.

                                     The doctor locates what appears to be a cathedral like structure. Inside is a dinning room collecting cobwebs with age and a group of armored figures. One of them begins to attack the doctor,when he manages to remove one of their heads where he locates a device to help restore K-9 to proper function. However another of these devices reveal themselves to be Gundam's,robotic servants of a slave order that had once reigned in this place. For her part,Romana learns that Rorvik and his crew are seeking time sensitive people such as herself to navigate their ship and Biroc,and those like him are at present being used. After another encounter with Biroc the doctor learns yet more about this himself-that his people the Tharils were once rulers of an ancient time/space empire before Rorvick,whose ship is made of dwarf star alloy,and his people enslaved them because of their time sensitivity. With the revelation of the Tharil's predicament, as well as the knowledge that K-9 is now only able to operate in E-space,Romana decides to remain behind with K-9 and Biroc to liberate the other Tharils from all time and space while the doctor and Adric return to their own universe.

                                        This is one of those stories that is defined by what is the very essence of Doctor Who itself. Presenting the TARDIS trapped within a non material gateway between their material universe and E-Space's antimatter universe,it gives the opportunity for the doctor and Romana to try to understand it on similar philosophical ground as the audience. The settings are presented in what,for the shows almost non existent budget,in a very visually stunning way-making particular use of black and white still photography,blue screen and clever set design.This also leads to witty scenes such as K-9 trying to explain the I-Ching to a puzzled Adric. While Rorvik's vessel is destroyed in it's attempt to leave the void gateway,he is not the only character in this story who has enslaved others. While a noble and sympathetic character,Biroc is motivated in his actions to liberate the other Tharil's by more then the need for freedom. But that in a past time,the Tharil's had themselves become so megalomaniacal with their control of time and space they too had become abusive to life forms less advanced than them. Realizing this,as well as her reluctance to return to Gallifrey to end her journey with the doctor are motivating factors in Romana remaining in E-space with K-9,not only in part to assist Biroc in locating the other enslaved Tharils.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Doctor Who-State Of Decay
                                 On route to discover a way out of E-Space,the doctor and Romana come upon a planet where they detect the recent use of advanced technology. After confronting local village peasants and asking about scientists,they meet up with a man whose recently uncovered advanced technology the doctor is able to decipher information of a crashed Earth expedition on this world,keep advanced technology from the villagers who are descendants of their own former crew. This is confirmed when Adric,whose stowed away on board the TARDIS leaves to investigate. He is taken in by another family of villagers,who themselves are taken in by one of the lords named Aukon for a ritual called "the selection",by which a chosen one of the villagers is bought in to serve these lords. While being seduced by the possibility of power the doctor and Romana confront two of the other lords Camilla and Zargo,only to find their shadowy palace is in fact the Earth spaceship crashed on that world.

                                When Camilla and Zargo are called away,the doctor and Romana set off to explore the spaceship and are confronted first by a resevior filled not with fuel for the ship but of fresh blood,with the doctor coming to the understanding that the descendants of the Earth ship's crew have become vampires.They are than confronted by Aukon who speaks of using this blood to feed a enormous overlord creature. While being imprisoned as Adric is prepared to join the lords,the doctor comes to the conclusion first that the Aukon,Camilla and Zargo are in fact the actual crew of the Earth ship. And that their overlord creature is the last survivor of an ancient Gallifreyan vampire race destroyed by the time lords in the time of Rassilon. While the doctor researches with the restored K-9 aboard the TARDIS,Romana attempts to rescure Adric. It is only after the doctor leads the villagers in a revolt,and manages to launch the escape vehicle from the Earth ship to destroy the original vampire,and therefore the others that the villagers can begin to understand the technology that may at last get them out of E-Space as they doctor and Romana return to the TARDIS,with the intention of return Adric back to his star liner.

                          In this story the doctor,usually portrayed as a character who knows more than he lets on,is forced to confronting something even he genuinely fears as he realizes the source of the trouble on the planet he's visiting is part of his people's ancient history. And that Gallifrey,as with Earth and many other planets,has legends of vampires-only there's are very real. Also the sociological schism between the Lords and the villagers,while strongly related to the Lords state as vampires,offers some insight into the inner workings of a decaying feudal despotism. The Lords have created a system of intimidation by which the primitive villagers fear even the concept of developing. In that way both societies,though coming from the same source,have de-evolved into a corrupt and decedent society. Adric,a wily and intelligent adolescent manages to manipulate the situation into his favor. Or so he thinks,even as he is almost bought into the ritual of selection without his full awareness. In the end the entire affair is more than a humbling event for the doctor himself.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Doctor Who-Full Circle
                                                   On route to Gallifrey where a crestfallen Romana believes she will have to leave her adventures with the doctor in his TARDIS behind the the TARDIS along with Romana,K-9 and the doctor are buffeted by a massive spacial disruption. The viewer indicates that they have arrived on Gallifrey. But upon leaving the TARDIS the doctor and Romana find themselves on a world that is definitely not Gallifrey.  It is in fact the planet Alzarius. While the doctor is looking to sleuth out his situation the locals,concerned as to stolen melons soon find more on their hands than mere thievery. The local rivers are starting to bubble,and emerging from this are lifeforms the locals refer to as Marshmen. One of the Deciders,a leader of this colony is killed despite one of the thieves,name of Adric's attempt to save his life. For his part Adric runs to flea from the other deciders and happens upon the TARDIS to meet the doctor and Romana,who discover his wounds healing very fast.

                                     Adric is a member of a group of youth descenders called themselves the Outlers. They contend that the deciders and their followers,who are devoting their existence to repairing their star liner to return to their native world of Terredon. While the Deciders have concluded that the bubbling water known as Mistfall is toxic to them and they must remain inside their spaceship during the phenomenon. In the meantime,while the Doctor has gained access to the sealed star liner Adric and the other Outlers,including the daughter of the new decider Logan,take over the TARDIS and accidentally move it into the star liner. In the meantime K-9's investigation of the Marshmen resulted in his destruction. While Romana's investigation leads the TARDIS to end up trapped inside the Marshmen's cave and bitten by newly hatched and spider like creatures. By the time the doctor finds her,her memory has begun to fade away mysteriously.

                                         It is at this point the doctor himself confronts the three Alzarian Deciders,a council who are leading their people in a generations long journey to repair their star liner due to Alzarius's atmosphere changing every 50 years due to it moving closer to it's son. While they come to trust the doctors knowledge,the doctor himself is not so pleased when he discovers that the Alzarian scientist Dexeter is conducting experiments to reveal how the Marshmen have adapted so well to their environment and they,to their knowledge haven't.  While utilization the liners laboratory the doctor is soon menaced by Marshmen and Romana,who is being influenced by a phenomenon the doctor soon discovers in the lab. That Dexester,the Marshmen and the spider's all share the same DNA. And that the crew of the star liner's own needless mission has been them distracting themselves from the truth all along. Inventing a syrum that cures Romana,she and the doctor-along with the remains of K-9 escape. At this point the doctor concludes that the TARDIS is trapped in a parallel universe called Exo (Or E-Space) from a a wormhole like phenomenon known as Charged Vacuum Embodiment or CVE.

                                  At the time this story was aired,the concept of the mulitverse as it is often now called,with quantum physics and wormholes,was not known to the mass of the public and the idea of something like E-space was actually a very intriguing scientific concept. Plot wise however,their is another interesting scientific construct pointed to with a planet where the ancestors  of the natives lived in a perpetual feedback loop and forgot who they were-pointing to another modern theory that humans ourselves may not be genetically native to Earth. Though scientifically ahead of it's time,this story also spun off some unique characters. Torn between his daughter,Logan has the effect of being a very sympathetic character here. And therefore is the earliest and most motivated character to assist the doctor. While internal staff wrangling over the relevance of K-9 resulted in his destruction in this story,they add the character of Adric. He emerges as a petty thief/"Artful Dodger character" as the writers refer to him whose intellectual ability leads him to both his life of petty crime and onto a better life as a stowaway on the TARDIS. That,however,is a different story.


Sunday, December 2, 2012

Doctor Who-The Wedding Of River Song
                                In London,all moments in history are happening all at ones. Mini coopers fly on hot air balloons,pterodactyls menace playgrounds and Winston Churchill presides over the Roman empire. What is the reason for all this discord? Due to foreknowledge of her killing of the doctor,River Song is able to trick out the spacesuit controlling her in order to save his life. However the doctor has by this time already learned that his death is a fixed point in time,and shouldn't have been prevented. He is further assisted in his travels to discover more about the Silence,the religious order intent on his death. Apparently they are trying to stop a question from being asked that would spell out the end of their order. Still the matter of the doctors life and death remain at hand.

                           While fighting paradoxical encounters with the Silence the doctor and Churchill,still totally displaced in time encounter an eye patched Amy Pond who still remembers the doctor,but realizes she shouldn't because she has no idea her husband Rory is still around her,but has no memory of who she is. She journeys with the doctor to Area 52 in the great pyramids where they find both Madame Kovarian and River Song,who herself is still determined to save the doctors life. After the Silence are able to break free from their holds below the pyramid,they manage to kill even their loyal servents using their eye patch. Even though Madame Kovarian begs Amy Pond for mercy,she elects not to spare her life. 

                            In the end it comes down to River Song sending a psychic transmission to the outside universe,where time is still moving normally,to every race of people the doctor has assisted. Still confused and irritated,with the knowledge of the reasoning for his death she agrees to formally wed him after he whispers something in her ear. This allows the doctor to be killed in Utah by her as planned and history to be set on it's proper track. Meanwhile Amy and River are at her and Rory's home discussing the matter Amy still remembers when River reveals to her that the doctor never actually died. One of the "friends" of his,the Teselecta,had concealed the actual doctor and took on his form. And it was the artificial doctor,not the real one,who was killed that day. Still the doctor had to confront his future,even if he was still alive.

                            This is the most densely written and fast moving Doctor Who story I've ever seen before. Once again the theme is paradox. Only of a much broader sort. What would happen if the doctor was supposed to die and didn't? All time literally occurred on Earth in one frozen moment and began to tare apart. So quite deliberately some of the dialog in this story makes absolutely no sense,because it's not supposed to. In this story however,Amy Pond's paradoxical memory serves as a help rather than a hindrance. Especially around the Silence,whose survival depends on ones lack of knowledge of their existence. Still the entire thread making up the core of this story.that "one important question" turns out to be the same one non other than first companion Ian Chesterton asked the first doctor after being bought from 1963 to the stone age on his first trip in the TARDIS: doctor who?
Doctor Who-Closing Time
                                                 In the midst of a group of employees at a local department store suddenly going missing and odd power fluctuations,the Doctor arrives at the new home of his old friend Craig Owens,now living in a new home with Sophie and their infant son Alphie who,according to the doctor,prefers the name Stormageddon. Something is amiss in the neighborhood and because of Craig's empathic connection with the doctor he is very aware something is under investigation. While masquerading as a partnered couple in the same department store where the employee's have gone missing the doctor was able to ascertain  the presence of a Cybermat,due to mention of "silver rats" and an elevator leading into some type of spaceship. So there's awareness of the fact that the Cybermen are on Earth again seeking energy to run their ship. What he's missing is the how and why.

                                          Upon returning home Craig is again nearly killed by a Cybermat,after which the doctor returns to the lift at the store with Craig to discover that not only have the Cyberman not teleported down from orbit,but their spaceship has been stranded underground for a long time and they've been trying to build up the energy to escape. Craig is than captured by the Cybermen but it's the cries of Alphie,whom he left with one of the stores employee's temporarily,he is able to break free from the Cybermen's assimilation attempt and his overwhelming emotion destroy them saving the lives of everyone. After a bit of housework in Craig's home from the doctor and a gift of a stetson to him from Craig the doctor is off again to meet his destiny who,in a future time has again encountered Madame Kovarian,is preparing the woman now known as River Song for just that very event.

                                       Much in the spirit of 'The Lodger' this functions as a whimsical buddy comedy/adventure for the doctor and Craig Owens. Though in order to accomplish their mission some mild homo eroticism is played up between the two characters,the theme of this story is basically about broadening the definitions of love. While possessed of a personality abound of love and kindness,the still meek Craig lacks confidence as a father. Parallel is the doctors own confidence in his own life,which he understands is soon to come to an end perhaps because of his overzealous involvement in the lives of others. This also is emphasized by a far away encounter with Amy and Rory at the department store by the doctor,and learning she's now become a famous cosmetics spokeswomen and moved on in life without him. While on the surface a charming tale about platonic and familial love between the doctor,Craig and his son underneath is also the idea of questioning one's own mortality.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Doctor Who-The God Complex
                              The doctor,Amy and Rory find themselves in a 1980's style Earth hotel where the doctor concludes everything has been replicated by an alien force. On the lobby wall they find an abundance of framed photos of the wall of people faces,below which appears to be a listing of how they died. At this point they are accosted by three individuals. Two are humans named Rita,a nurse and Howie,a conspiracy theorist computer blogger. The other is Gibbus,from an ancient race accustomed to surrender. The doctor finds another of their companions Joe in a room filled with laughing ventriloquist puppets giving praise to someone unknown and agreeing to sacrificing his life. And somehow he does. There is mention from him that each of these people have a "room for them". And after encountering rooms filled with Weeping Angels,it would seem that way. The doctor thus concludes they are being menaced by a monster that feeds on fear.

                              One by one each of these people succumbs to their fears and their lives are taken by the monster. First is Howie,whose suspition and mistrust lead him to defer to "praise". Than comes Rita,who is Muslim ,who is convinced they are in Janannam-the dark side of the Muslim afterlife. This leaves the doctor to conclude that the monster,who he had just encountered and who was beginning to be killed,was sustaining itself on the faith of these individuals. And it is in fact Amy's trust in the doctor that bought the TARDIS there to begin with. Upon convincing Amy of his selfishness in taking her and Rory on his journey's the monsters life is ended,and the hotel disappears. Turns out the creature is actually a descent of the Nimon race who manipulate societies  in order to breed the mistrust of faith it needs to survive. After the entire ordeal the doctor elects,at least for now,to return Amy and Rory back to their home with a parting gift sports car to spare them from any harm he could unintentionally inflict.

                            While an excellent and provocative story with a lot of well conceived horror elements,this may not be the easiest of Doctor Who episodes to watch from a psychological perspective. Brewing for some time since his regeneration,the set up of this story leaves him very much as a vulnerable and un-heroic figure as he must seriously convince Amy Pond that her life is in danger in his personal quest for justice and adventure,despite his loneliness. The message of this is very clear. This is very much the story of how people are almost always mislead by outward faith,religious or otherwise. And in this case their lives come to an end for this very reason. And more so,the events shake the doctors faith in himself to the core-to the point where he temporarily parts company with Amy and Rory who,while understanding of his reasons,seem to view him as being rather hard on himself. And mainly because he was not able to save three lives.


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Doctor Who-The Girl Who Waited
                             Upon arriving to Apalapucia,which the Doctor understands to be pleasure planet ideal for a vacation spot for himself,Amy and Rory they find themselves in a room filled with doors leading into different rooms and being accosted by faceless robot attendants they come to call Handbots. However the room Amy has entered and the one the doctor and Rory are in are on totally different time streams,with Amy's moving at a faster rate. Each chamber is equipped with temporal mirrors to see into and interact with each others timeline. Interaction with the Handbots reveals Apalapucia has been afflicted with the Gen 7 one day plague that is lethal to the doctor and the native population,but to which Amy and Rory are now immune to. While the doctor and Rory return to the TARDIS with the temporal mirror to keep track of Amy,it's up to her to find a place where the doctor can wait for her. And avoid the Handbots who function to commit mercy killings to anyone they encounter,perceived automatically to have the plague with what they call "the kindness".

                           After encountering many different pleasure vistas left behind,Amy finds a place to wait for the doctor near temporal engines where the Handbots will not get to her. Unfortunately by the time the TARDIS finally arrives Rory encounters a middle aged Amy. While she has become more adaptable at fighting the Handbots,she has also learned to fight her feelings for Rory and especially the doctor,who she's grown a serious resentment towards. The doctor soon realizes that in order to save the Amy from her original time frame,her future self would have to interect with her. The one wild card is that the older Amy doesn't wish to cease existing. Believing that there's a way for both Amy's to maintain their existence,the Doctor combines his TARDIS to bend time with the two Amy's synced thoughts to do so. However before they all get back to the TARDIS,they are again accosted by the Handbots and the young Amy is knocked out by one of them,while the older Amy remains to fight them off as a distraction. Inside the TARDIS the doctor admits to Rory that both Amy's would create a massive paradox. Realizing too her situation,the elder Amy elects to allow herself to be killed by "the kindness" as her time line ceases to exist.

                          While this story brings a lot to the table,it's foremost element is the level of emotionalism it brings out in the characters. Once again the doctors  often jagged perceptions of linear time leaves Amy stranded waiting for decades before the doctor finally returns as promised. Unlike her initial brush with the situation on their first encounter,the elder Amy Pond illustrated here has had to spend nearly four decades fighting off robots and has become extremely bitter-viewing the doctors words as half truths. Realizing this double betrayal too,Rory begins to share these sentiments himself to the point of vowing not to travel with the doctor himself. So in this story,it's primarily up to the doctor to act in the most reasonable manner possible in order to restore both the doctor and the elder Amy's confidence in him enough to allow the younger one to survive. It's very much a story of people's alternating views on emotion and the passage of time. And reflects on much of the decision making of the doctor himself.
Doctor Who-Night Terrors
                              The doctor received a message from a child on Earth during Amy and Rory's time in a council estate requesting to save him from monsters. While not directed specifically to him,the doctor decides to make a "house call" as it were. After checking the other residents in vein,including the landlord Purcell he comes across a couple named Alex and Claire and his son George,who it seems somehow sent the doctor the original message. Alex,perceiving the doctor to be a case worker allows him to investigate. The doctor discovers that his Alex and Claire are at the end of the ropes with the oddly fear riddled George and are considering sending him into foster care. In the meantime,at George's request,they locked all of the toys that frightened George into a closet in front of his bed. There is a strange event occurring of which the doctor is all too soon aware. An elderly resident,the landlord Purcell himself and Amy and Rory while in an elevator find themselves in what appears to be an enlarged 18'th century doll house,surrounded by anamorphic peg dolls. 

                              Upon being touched by them,first Purcell than Amy also seem to become peg dolls. When the doctor manages to open the closet to eswage George's fears,George again reacts in kind and both the Doctor and Alex are pulled in. With the revelation that it's a dollhouse,and with George entering to search for his father the doctor comes to understand that George is actually a Tenza,a telepathic alien who was able to become the ideal child for Alex and Claire who couldn't conceive children. And that this entire fiasco was a fantasy concocted from George's mind,being empathic, based around  his fears. By convincing George that,alien or not,he still cared for him as a father and intended to do right by him. At this particular point everyone from Purcell and Amy are restored to their normative conditions and the doctor leaves Alex and Claire with the understanding that,no matter how difficult their lives seem to be,George will by nature adapt himself to be their ideal son.

                               Based upon the childhood fear of dolls of writer Mark Gatiss,this story takes very familiar imagery common to both youthful fears of the unknown as well as similarly based horror cinema and brings it to all to life as something that poses a genuine puzzle for the doctor. Still the entire scenario is confusing for him. His original motivation was his own soft spot for children. Despite being the last of the time lords from a very alien culture,this story goes far to illustrate the inherent humanitarianism at the core of Doctor Who itself. Though at heart caring parents,between their economic woes and George's fears they find themselves unable to cope with their child's unusual and irrational fears. Whereas the revelation of one's child being extra terrestrial in origin might normally be soul destroying event for any parents,in this case it actually seemed to put an end to their concerns about George's experiences. 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Doctor Who-Let's Kill Hitler
                                                Following their escape from Demon's Run Amy and Rory drive through a corn field to meet back up with the doctor after creating a crop circle to try to get his attention. Almost immediately a red Corvette stingray pulls up,and a woman emerges carrying a pistol and holds up the doctor. Her name is Mels,an old friend of Amy and Rory's whose known them since childhood and has always known a particular fascination with the doctor and time travel.  Her intention is to steal the TARDIS and "kill Hitler". Almost destroying the TARDIS in the process,by the time they arrive in 1938 Berlin,they begin by imprisoning the puzzled Furer himself in a closet as Mels "regenerates" into River Song after being shot at by a robotic version of Nazi Erich Zimmerman,whose reason for trying to intercept Mels is now abundantly clear to the doctor. It was in fact River Song,who still knows of herself primarily as Melody Pond,who will be the instrument of his death in Utah. 

                                  During her regeneration crisis,Melody/River goes on the lamb. She manages to confuse Nazi troops and even crash a formal reception where she steals the the guests clothes. Meanwhile Amy and Rory become miniaturized into a disguised robotic version of Amy. The doctor for his part his bigger problems. When Melody/River kissed him after she regenerated,she ejected a lethal poison into him. As he struggles with his last half hour of life Amy and Rory find themselves inside the dimensionally transcendental,TARDIS like Teselecta,used by a temporal control agency attempting to apprehend Melody/River for her future crimes. Par the doctors instructions Amy and Rory are able to use their identity matches to fool out the Teselecta into escaping. As the doctor let Melody know via the robot that she'd one day be River Song,she gave her last regenerations to the doctor to save his life. As she awoke in a future medical facility the doctor,Amy and Rory leave her to her devices. By the 50'th century however,Melody is applying to be an archaeologist.

                                 During much of series five and so far into series six,the doctor was becoming more and more aware of the origins of River Song's place in his life. He started to see the conflicts between free will and a hidden biological imparitive within her even as far back as her revelation of being a murderer when they met with the Weeping Angels. So as it were,Melody's "regeneration" in 1930's Berlin represented the doctors first encounter with River Song,as well as their obviously paradoxical relationship in time and space. This episode has over a dozen plot lines,all moving at an extremely fast pace. There's River's "fear and loathing"-like regeneration delirium,mingled with her programming to kill the doctor. There's also the concept hinted at in the manner in which Amy and Rory escaped from the Teselecta that could very well point to how the war with the doctor might've started in the first place: his intent on protecting River Song even at the cost of his own life.  There relationship,though itself even emotionally paradoxical is the key element to this episode it's a big hoot to watch. And there's a whole lot more here than even that.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Doctor Who-A Good Man Goes To War
                                      Following the revelation of Amy Pond being a "flesh avatar",the doctors new phrase for a ganger,he sets about on the TARDIS to many different time zones calling in favors from Silurians,Sontarans and many other characters he has been of assistance to in the past. Meanwhile Rory,in full Roman Garb is set to retrieve River Song. But why has this all been done in the first place? Turns out the real Amy Pond is very much alive on a secret asteroid base called Demon's Run,where an eye patched lady named Madam Kovrian has been watching over Amy and her new baby Melody. There are armies of soldiers operating under the orders of overseers named headless monks to destroy the doctor. And they have a secret weapon they plan to use. But during a briefing where they receive their orders,one of the monks reveals himself to in fact be the doctor himself.

                             Than ensues a massive battle set up by many of those from the doctors other encounters in time who've owed him favors. One of the troops under Kovarian named Lorna overhears of the Madame's plans to trap the doctor,Amy and Rory and she goes to try to protect them. By this time the doctor and a number of his new companions have hacked into the Demon's Run's computer files and discovered the reason why Madame Kovarian wants Melody so badly;her DNA shows indications of time lord DNA apparently built up when Amy and Rory copulated while within the time vortex. This is cooborated soon by Kovarian herself when she reveals her wish to use Melody against him. Of course by this time,the baby Amy thinks she's escaped with turns out to be another avatar and Madame Kovarian already has the real melody. Although late,River song arrives and after espousing a strange degree of understanding against why these people are plotting against the doctor,she sends the doctor after the baby once Lorna warned them of Kovarian's plans,though too late and at her own sacrifice. With the doctor already aware,River song is forced to explain to Amy her actual identity: that she in fact is Amy's own daughter.

                        From the first time I caught eye of the River Song character in Doctor Who,it was abundantly clear that her relationship with him was about to come into very strong focus. Not to mention to protectiveness and familial relationship with Amy and Rory. Now it was not even a subject for debate that she had some time lord DNA by her abilities and knowledge of the TARDIS's operation. On the other hand I wasn't quite expecting this revelation to show up in this particular fashion. The identity of River Song was not the only significant thrust of this sprawling 48 minute epic.  As River Song so well explains upon her arrival at Demon's Run,it was only inevitable that with all of the worlds across time and space where the doctors name had been both famous and infamous for his meddling with the fabric not just of the space/time continuum but other's lives,that there would be some who would feel resentful enough to wish to take his life. This revelation,already known in the back of the doctors mind perhaps,might've been why he accepted his death at the hands of the "impossible astronaut" so willingly. Or will he actually accepted that death,again,at all.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Happy Birthday Whoniverse!
                                         Over four decades ago,towards the beginning of the evening on this same day in the year 1963 people all over England were treated,albeit late due to news of President Kennedy's assassination in America,to this compelling science fiction show about two teachers,a student who knows more about the future than the present and this humming police box with an interior larger then the exterior. Inside was an mysteriously man who spoke in riddles and,to the teachers disbelief they find themselves in the time of cave dwelling proto-humans still on the verge of discovering fire.  Whatever these people thought at that particular time Doctor Who has entered their lives.

                                  Hard to believe that this show is celebrating it's golden anniversary next year. And honestly? It wasn't until this February that I even began to become interested in the show. I am one of those people where it often takes me quite awhile to come to fully appreciate programs that are very near and dear to me. The one exception being Star Trek,which was literally (in the form of a Spock doll) present with me in the crib. But Doctor Who was always this very far away,and very foreign seeming thing on PBS with this guy with a huge scarf (Tom Baker) travelling around in this tricky telephone booth time machine At the time,found it overwhelming but always was interested in the back of my mind.

                                   And it is overwhelming. Star Trek impresses because it explores the human condition in dealing with the complications of interstellar space travel. Doctor Who deals mainly with the complications of time and space travel dealing with the human condition. The doctor is a time lord,travelling with what is nine times out of ten a human travelling companion and helping them learn about themselves in different ways through their journey. With all of the 90's era conspiracy theories about alien abductions,culminating in even Stephen Hawkings himself cynically coming to think that extra terrestrials would have nothing to gain from Earth aside from some form of conquest,it's particularly refreshing that the BBC has launched a program about the very human seeming and benevolent doctor who wishes to help humanity all through time and space. 

                       So on this 49'th anniversary I wanted to offer how my fairly recent experience with Doctor Who has been of benefit to my life. On that level,I must say it's done for me now in my 30's something very similar to what Star Trek did for me as I was growing up until it suddenly ceased to be on TV. And that is not something on a TV screen that tries to tell me how to think,but rather that I can think-to quote George Clinton there,someone else rather obsessed with space I may add. The happiest part of Doctor Who,after 26 years airing nonstop from 1963 to 1989,came back as a series again in 2005. And that having very recently experienced the newest episodes with Matt Smith as the doctor,with his companions Amy and Rory,that in particular these new shows are absolutely amazing and as the doctor himself might say "pretty much marvelous". 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Doctor Who-The Almost People
                                       The ganger doctor begins to engage in a rather unusual regeneration crisis as he and the original Doctor actually decide to pair up in order to find some type of honorable way out of the battle with the gangers. The solution would seem to be to look to the mainland for assistance. But the ganger Cleaves has already thought of that,and encoded the password. In the meantime Rory and Jennifer continue their journey back back to their starting point,at which time the Doctor divides the Doctor into teams and,observing her sensitivity towards his ganger during another of his regeneration crisis's sends her with him. For their part Jennifer shows Rory a pile of gangers left to die,explaining this wrongdoing must be exposed to the world. Shortly after,however it is learned the original Jennifer has been killed. And just as the factory is about to be flooded with acid,Rory learns he has been travelling with the ganger Jennifer all along. When confronting the oddly conflicted ganger doctor,Rory and the other gangers are soon exposed to the fact that one of the workers,and therefore his ganger,is a father. This revelation of his child begins to break the others apart from the ganger Jennifer's obsession with vengeance against humanity. 

                       When the original father is killed after exposure to acid,the Doctor not only lets him understand he must now be the father but that,together the gangers and the humans must now unite together against the ganger Jennifer who is mutating further and has murderous intentions. When the TARDIS is bought underground,following the deaths of the original workers,the Doctor reveals to Amy that she'd been travelling with his ganger all along so he could learn more about The Flesh. So while the ganger doctor and Cleaves stay behind to sacrifice themselves to destroy the ganger Jennifer the original along with Amy,Rory and the other gangers return to the mainland in the TARDIS to explain the situation to the authorities and to find a better solution. There is another twist Rory must confront: the Doctor has learned from his encounter with The Flesh that the actual Amy hasn't been travelling with them for some time and he is forced to destroy the revealed ganger version. Meanwhile,before an eye patch wearing lady  the real Amy is about to give birth.

                        This emerges as an excellent story that continues on from 'The Rebel Flesh' as an excellent treatise on human rights violations. In the end,most of the gangers realize that by waging war on their creators due to their mistreatment would bring them down to their level and decide to confront their creators to plead their case peacefully. The doctor's place in this story is basically one game of misdirection after another. Much in the spirit of the seventh doctor's tendency to manipulate the events of those he cared about to create an all around good outcome,the Doctor resorts to switching places with his ganger-apparently not only to learn more about the Flesh and it's intentions,but it order to assure himself of the unreality of the ganger version of Amy.  The idea of making the family connection,to help assure and stabilize the humanity of the surviving gangers also added to this. Again it's Rory's high ethical values and spirit,when confronted with the sight of "defective" gangers piled into a massive blob that sets many of the events into motion that,as most of the best science fiction stories can do,uses the medium as a filter to point out important ethical and emotional questions one might be too afraid to ask oneself in reality.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Doctor Who-The Rebel Flesh
                                                  Swept passed near disaster by what the Doctor calls a solar tsunami,the TARDIS lands on Earth in the 22'nd century near a 13'th century monastery where they follow an underground pipeline,apparently pumping acidic liquid fuel back and forth from the mainland,to it's source. It's a power supply factory run by a team who've discovered an amazing new method of sustaining their workforce in their dangerous work: a viscous,mimetic substance called The Flesh. The few workers at this factory have developed devices by which they can create new precise physical and mental duplicates of themselves in order to reduce work related fatalities. Upon touching The Flesh,the doctor senses a living consciousness within them. Though he warns the workers of the impending solar tsunami activity,they along with their clones they refer to as the gangers elect to stay in their factory while the Doctor tries to disable their power system. He succeeds and is briefly knocked out along with Amy,Rory and many of the workers.

                                           Upon awakening the it's discovered that the Gangers have gone missing in the apparently one hour they'd been unconscious. This after Cleaves,one of the workers believes it's been 12 minutes. They find in another part of the factory an area containing paraphernalia indicting the gangers not only are still there but now are convinced they are the people they originated from. Experiencing unusual symptoms another of the workers named Jennifer discovers she is actually a ganger. It isn't long before the Doctor realizes the same is true of Cleaves. While Rory sympathetically  sticks with the ganger version of Jennifer,the Doctor prepares to locate the other gangers who have gotten to the pressure suits in order to survive in order to iron out some negotiations between the creators and their twin creations. This fails when Cleaves attempts to destroy the clones,including her own and both join into divided camps against the other. Before the Doctor can take further actions,he is confronted with a ganger version of himself.

                                            This Doctor Who story brings up some very fascinating and important human ethical questions that have been bandied about as we in real life have begun to edge towards the possible genetic engineering phenomenon cloning. Is it the life of the originator of the genetic material or the outcome of that which will be held of a greater or lesser value? Although in this story being able to see each other for the equals the other is,the arrogant self righteousness of characters such as Cleaves is what creates the conundrum about what one values about life itself. Rory,as a nurse with medical training,recognizes that value in the ganger Jennifer completely when-during the most touching scene of the episode she brings Rory nearly to tears as she struggles with her budding human identity.  The Doctor for his part shares this opinion,and is acting very much as the diplomat in helping people who are literally taking to fighting themselves. This is complicated,of course when he finds himself in the very same position.