Sunday, November 24, 2013

Doctor Who-The Day Of The Doctor

                         Clara Oswald,apparently now a teacher at the Coal Hill School is summoned by the doctor and returns to the TARDIS. Suddenly,much to the doctors dismay they are airlifted to Trafulgar Square by Kate Lethbridge Stewart,current said of UNIT by one of their helicopters. Stewart ushers the doctor and Clara to the national museum to see a personal message from Queen Elizabeth the first. This message comes in the form of a painting that very much troubles the doctor. It is dimensionally transcendent time lord painting that the doctor recognizes as being referred to both by the names "Galifrey Falls" and "No More". What he doesn't understand is what the message could mean. Meanwhile one of the museum employees gets a mysterious phone call to move the painting. Meanwhile in the 1590's,the tenth doctor is gleefully enjoying an outdoor picnic with Elizabeth 1 when one of his devices detects a non human presence,which as it turns out is actually a shape shifting Zygon masquerading as his horse. He and the queen manage to escape into the TARDIS only to find a Zygon masquerading as the queen-with the real article present as well.

                        On Galifrey the time war with the Daleks rages on-with the time lords fighting a losing battle and the incarnation of the doctor encountered on Trenzalore wanders amid the carnage. He is granted a great weapon that was one of the last works of Omega referred to as "the moment",which had the ability to destroy Galifrey and end the war. While he tries to understand it's use it takes the form of Rose Tyler,his future companion,as a verbal interface. As the doctor debates with the moment (as it were) as to the morality of what he is about to do,a bright vortex appears and a red fez flies out at him. The same thing occurs with the tenth doctor,Elizabeth 1 and her Zygon clone. The eleventh doctor in the meantime confronts a top secret UNIT fascility where Elizabeth once stored dangerous art which,as it turns out is all time lord art. The doctor reveals that all this art are actually frozen moments of time meant to contain figures of people. But the figures have gone. In this facility,along with many personal effects of his past he locates his fez and,upon exiting finds a floor of broken glass-blown to the ground from the painting on the inside out. Suddenly the same vortex appears above the doctor and Clara. The doctor throws in his fez and leaps through-only to emerge before his tenth incarnation.

                     The doctor and the moment have also followed suit-arriving at the same place as each of the three incarnations are unsure how to each relates to the other. Meanwhile the queen has all three arrested and taken to the towers of London to be imprisoned. Meanwhile in the future Clara is taken by Stewart and her assistant Osgood to the towers of London as well,where they find many of UNIT's most sacred treasures among which is the vortex manipulator used before by Torchwood's Captain Jack Harkness. At the revelation that Stewart and Osgood have both been co-opted by Zygons as well,Clara uses the manipulator. She finds herself in the same location in the 16th century while the three doctors debate how to sync their sonic screwdrivers to open the door when Clara simply waltz in and allows for an escape. In lieu of Elizabeth actually manipulating the Zygons into thinking she was the clone,she and the tenth doctor marry after which he,the eleventh and the doctor set to destroy his world all use Zygone technology to incorporate themselves into the 'Galifrey Falls",arranging with the employee by phone to have the painting moved.

                    Upon arrival in the 21'st century Towers Of London the doctors,Clara and the moment find themselves confronted by the Zygons-who had been using the paintings in the same way to emerge to conquer Earth for their colonization seeing as their world was too destroyed. This of course when Earth had the proper level of technology to do so. Clara finds the actual Kate Stewart and Osgood trapped in the queens vault. The actual Kate and her Zygon clone wind up in a stand off-with the real Kate electing to blow up the towers and all of London with a nuclear device beneath them to save their entire world. The doctor prevents this by temporarily erasing the memories of both Kate Stewart,Osgood and their Zygon clones so neither knows who the other is-therefore allowing them to talk peace. The "time war" doctor suddenly returns back to where he started from while talking to Clara. So she,the 11th and 10th doctors go in their TARDIS to make sure that their predecessor doesn't have to destroy their world alone. 

                   Meanwhile Clara's encouragement  brings the 11th doctor to make a decision to use a series of calculations,that apparently he'd been working on in all his incarnations to bring all 12 of the doctors TARDIS's to mask Galifrey behind the same type of freeze in time used in the paintings. The Daleks therefore destroy each other-thinking they've destroyed Galifrey as well. Upon returning to 21st century London,the tenth doctor and the "time war" incarnation return to their respective time. Before departing with Clara,the 11th is visited by the museums curator,a man who resembles and whom he believes to be his 4th incarnation,who informs him that the name of the painting has been misunderstood and is actually "Galifrey Falls No More",meaning the planet is saved and the doctor breaks the time streams one more time to join all his other past incarnations in viewing a Galifrey that is no longer dead,but awaiting a rebirth in some future time.

                  Being the 50th anniversary story,this episode represents for the contemporary version of Doctor Who what The Five Doctors did for the original series on its two decade anniversary thirty years ago. It ties together as many elements as it possibly can,including the return of David Tennant as the tenth doctor-resulting in repartee between him and Matt Smith easily on a par with the silly sparring between the second and third doctors in the past two multi doctor stories. The return of the Zygons,
absent from Doctor Who for 37 years is also a highlight. John Hurts "time war" doctor calls back into question something once suggested in The Brain of Morbius-that the doctor has many incarnations he rejects for different reasons as part of his history. In this case,a guilty conscience. During the climactic scene we also see a brief glimpse of the eyes of Peter Capaldi,slated to play the doctors next incarnation. But it won't be the last. The doctor played by John Hurt makes it clear the doctor can actually regenerate more then 12 times. Tom Baker's extremely surprising appearance at the conclusion of this story is probably the most exciting part of it all. And because the story behind the doctors personal secrets are becomming more and more unraveled during his current incarnation,this epic story represents not only a secure future for Doctor Who but also a superb golden anniversary story. And,if I may say so in terms of scope,epic plotting and writing one of the most vital and strong stories Doctor Who has yet delivered.

*As a bonus for this 50th anniversary "after party",as it were on this blog I am including a very special bonus video I made on YouTube-in which I'll be talking about my top 25 Doctor Who stories,action figures and the new book Doctor Who-The Vault:Treasures From The First 50 Years. Enjoy this review,enjoy the video and a big happy birthday to Doctor Who. All too happy and proud that I could be enjoying the show for this big event!

                      ***Coming soon. Here's A Link In The Meantime***

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Doctor Who-A Fifty Year Legacy In Just Under Two Years

                     Fifty years ago today,the BBC launched what was intended to be an educational program for preteens/adolescents. Current series producer Steven Moffat,when asked about how the original creators of the series would've responded to the current Doctor Who. He indicated that he felt they would be shocked at how much the show has endured from their intentions. Though one thing I noticed is he didn't speak of it in particularly cynical terms. Very to no Doctor Who admirers/Whovians speak or think of the show in this manner. Its such a broad construct,the TARDIS openly admitted in the un-aired Doctor Who pilot by William Hartnell himself as a metaphor for the huge world presented to the audience of the small television screen. There is so much one interested person could say about Doctor Who. Since an unending journey through time and space is so intimidating,might be best to merely offer a perspective.

               One of the main reasons this blog was started was because I was a Star Trek admirer. It's view of a more hopeful future  had a strong therapeutic influence on my developing mind-even in difficult times. Basically I had to stand by and watch Star Trek die a slow death-both literally and as a strong cultural influence. It got lost in nostalgia. And never came back to television either. Than I started learning more about Doctor Who. It was not a case of a fan of one science fiction TV show transferring devotion to another. Doctor Who actually took time to grow on me. And that's appropriate because time is the central theme of Doctor Who. Not just time travel,but the place of all life within it. Because Star Trek existed at a time before I had access to internet,the opportunity to discuss my feelings about it never happened. So I started this blog to share my views on the show,and the episodes as I saw them. For Doctor Who,half a century has passed. For Doctor Who in my life,not quite yet two years. So here is what I have to offer.

               Sometimes it is important to face reality. And the reality is we live in a society that's still extremely closed to a strong consciousness. It doesn't matter if its a social consciousness or a more personal one. Seems as though more and more things in life are presented to us to laugh at,rather than laugh with. And "drama" has become an insult-to be used when a genuinely serious matter is discussed. Doctor Who itself was actually born out of a vital twin consciousness. When the show premiered this day in 1963,no Americans were seeing it in their own country. They were preoccupied with the shattering assassination of President John Kennedy,a man who symbolically inspired an entire generation to ask what they could do for their country. England was equally shaken,and the show wasn't given much notice at first. But Doctor Who endured,just as the world endured the slaying of JFK. Doctor Who was cancelled twice in its original run. And both times came back. And even though the second time it took fifteen years to do so,it still came back.

              When Doctor Who returned in 2005,it was to what I've heard call the Net 2.0 generation. The world was filled with new technology-all designed with the greatest hopes it would somehow bring human beings together. Instead human beings were finding ways to use this new digital technology to shut out what else was going on around them. From the first episode of the "new who" as some call it entitled "Rose",that very situations was addressed. The doctors ninth incarnation,played by Christopher Eccleston took one Rose Tyler to show her many worlds were you didn't only have to face reality,but where reality was totally flexible. This new doctor was tortured by the loss of the other time lords and his home planet Galifrey in the last great time war. The character has regenerated twice since then. And is about to yet again as Matt Smith's 11th incarnation is about to regenerate into a 12th played by actor Peter Capaldi. Though originally began as a way to replace the original actor portraying the doctor William Hartnell,it is also now representative of humanity's ability to revive itself from seemingly impossible odds.

               On a personal level,the one thing I've learned to appreciate most about Doctor Who is it's enduring message of friendship,love and understanding.  While a mysterious character who occasionally is frustrated with humanity's slow progression,the doctor is a character who never gives up on a race his fourth incarnation,played by Tom Baker described as "indomitable". In recent years he has even been able to see himself through the eyes of his enemies who see him,as Dalek creator Davros once described him as "the destroyer of worlds". The doctor is grown from a mildly sinister character kidnapping two school teachers in his time travelling police box that was "bigger on the inside" to someone who has seen the many sides of humanity,come to grips with his own lonliness and is at last coming to realize he cannot outrun the identity he has been hiding since he first denied his true identity by bestowing upon himself the name of "the doctor".

             That overall message of love and understanding is something that extends to Doctor Who admirers as well. Speaking again from a personal perspective,the one thing that really makes Doctor Who such a special part in my life is how influential the character of the doctor is on the lives of those companions who travel with him-both human and sometimes otherwise. If only for a brief moment sometimes,they are led into a new way of looking at life or even being the universes savior by being in the doctors presence. And mostly without his direct guidance. As a person who is still overcoming the many odds against them by periodically re-arranging their consciousness rather than making myself into someone they aren't,the implied method of influence the doctor has with his travelling companions is what I'd described as a very positive one. In a society that often tries hard to dismiss consciousness as only the result of drug use,where people interested in creative things deacribe themselves as "music nerd" or "Star Trek geek"-echoing seemingly enforced self hatred,its my pleasure to wish a very happy birthday to this TV show about this time and space travelling character who bestowed upon himself the name of...the doctor.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Doctor Who-The Name Of The Doctor

                          Clara Oswin Oswald,the "impossible girl" is racing through a time tunnel-splintered into a million fragments. She finds herself, while often in the shadows,saving the life of the doctor in all his incarnations-including her warning the first doctor when he is about to take the TARDIS from Galifrey with his granddaughter. Meanwhile during the 19th century Vastra,Jenny and Strax-who is in Glasgow,find themselves in a telepathic conference call with River Song based on coordinates given to Vastra by a mass murderer of women named Clarence. Using Vastra's shock to create an escape attempt,Vastra writes a letter for Clara to open in the future-containing a trance enduing substance that allows her to join in on the conference. She is given the coordinates such as Jenny disappears from the conference-claiming to be getting murdered. In reality,Jenny has been murdered by a group of white ghostly faced humanoid forms in top hat and tails. 

                   Meanwhile Clara is awakened by the sound of the doctors  voice while he is caring for Angie and Artie. Clara tells him what was told to her in the conference call-that the coordinates given to her were for a planet called Trenzalore,a name which related to the doctor. Reacting with a good deal of sadness,the doctor takes Clara to the TARDIS where he explains Trenzalore is a graveyard for time lords after their final regeneration. And that no living time lord should ever go there. When they arrive on Trenzalore the pair find a massive yet conventional looking graveyard with the doctors tomb; his decayed future TARDIS which itself is expanded outwardly as much as the inside. Still linked to the telepathic conference,Clara is contacted by River Song who points her and the doctor to what appears to be her own grave but,as it turns out is an entrance to the future TARDIS. While travelling through it,Clara begins to remember her encounter with the core of the TARDIS-namely the fact the doctor had encountered and lost her twice in the past.

                  Vastra,Jenny and Strax travel to Trenzalore to meet the doctor-only to meet the Great Intelligence,in the guise of Dr.Simeon,with his ghostly lackey's. They have the capability to end someones life from the inside. They meet the doctor within the control room of the future TARDIS where they find a white energy stream the doctor claims represents the entirety of all his timestreams-all that ever happened and ever will to him. It is the Great Intelligence's intention to enter this stream and cause every single right the doctor had done to many different worlds to be undone. As Vastra notices stars blinking out,Strax turns on her,Jenny disappears and the doctor buckles in pain as his timeline is re-written. Clara realizes why the doctor encountered her twice before and proceeds to enter the energy stream herself-scattering herself as the Great Intelligence did to right all he was doing wrong. While this recovers the timeline,the doctors as well as Vastra,Jenny and Strax the doctor is then obligated to enter the stream and rescue Clara from his timestreams. When he arrives he finds a confused Clara surrounded by a metaphoric world of his essence and past regerations. She agrees to leave when they encounter a man who the doctor knows as one of his regeneration's,and the one who revealed the secret of his identity.

                   While the majority of Steven Moffat's work on Doctor Who has been based around season long story arc's surrounding a companion of the doctors,this story completes a story arc that had massive ramifications on the life and fate of the doctor himself. Throughout her time with the doctor,Clara Oswald has been puzzled by the fact that the doctor seems to be aware of her in a way she doesn't fully understand. It is only when he is faced with someone else,in the shape of the Great Intelligence,
erasing the doctor from history that her purpose becomes clear. This is a story that links all of the doctors incarnations together. Contemporary FX enabled Clara to be seen peripherally keeping the doctors (visible to us anyway) played by William Hartnell,Patrick Troughton,Jon Pertwee,Tom Baker,Peter Davison,Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy out of danger throughout there timestream. Its therefore presumed that Clara Oswald is very likely the singular human figure that has bought the events that started the events of Doctor Who together and,without anticipation,might be part of the doctors attraction to human beings. If this story is followed through to a dramatic conclusion,it may represent massive changes for the doctors character in the future.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Doctor Who-Nightmare In Silver

                          On the insistence of Alice and Artie,the two children Clara is caring for,the doctor takes all of them on a day trip to Hedgwicks Worlds Of Wonder,an alien theme park in the future where they encounter a man named Wembley who are hiding from military troops who now occupy the planet,where the amusement park is now closed. He uses his psychic paper to convince troop Captain Ferring he is an ambassador looking for the departed emperor they are searching for. Wembley takes the doctor,Clara and the children back with him to meet up with a new automated chess playing device that he has invented,which turns out to be the shell of an extinct Cyberman body with a sort man calling himself Porridge manipulating the controls inside. When the doctor notices some odd armored silver insects,he instructs the children to sleep at Wembley's. After he leaves,the Cyberman shell reawakens and grabs Wembley.  After discovering the insects are actually a form of new Cybermites,the doctors sonic screwdriver can of them inadvertently transports him to an orbiting vessel where he meets Wembley-who is now a partially upgraded Cyberman,along with Angie and Artie who are in a more controlled upgraded state. The upgraded Wembley informs the doctor that a new fleet of new Cyberman are awaiting a newer and more powerful consciousness into their central mind-the Cybermariad. 

                  That consciousness is apparently going to be the doctor. The Cybermites effect on the doctor creates a duel personality-the doctor and another who calls itself Mr Clever. The doctor breaks through enough to warn Clara to lead Captain Ferring and her army,who warn him they are an incompetent punishing unit who would be ineffective against an enemy whose destruction is now part of their history. As Clara,along with the surprisingly able assistance of Porridge are able to lead the army into pitched battle against the new and advanced Cybermen,the doctor uses Wembley's chess board as part of a metaphoric game with "Mr Clever"-the doctor trying to gain control and deactivate the new Cybermariad and regain the lives of Alice and Artie. Aware from Porridge that the planet has a self destruct mechanism for situations such as this,Clara attempts to deliver the activation device to who she thinks is the doctor,when Mr Clever is able to deceive her and destroy the activation device. While the doctor is able to use a laser to remove the connection and destroy the Mr Clever identity,Porridge reveals he knows the destruct code himself-and its the now liberated Alice who makes the connection with a statue of the missing emperor she saw earlier that Porridge is that emperor.  He succeeds in evacuating all of them to his imperial ship in orbit,along with the TARDIS before destroying the planet and the new cyber army. After a failed marriage proposal to Clara the doctor returns her,Alice and Artie home.

                     Very much in the spirit of the Daleks,the Cybermen seem to
consistently be able to fool the doctor into thinking that the doctor has at last defeated them. But the situation has changed at this point. The doctor spends the majority of this story literally in pitch battle with himself-that is as a highly organized Cybermariad manipulated version,triggering some type of time lord psychosis. Needless to say Matt Smith's playing two separates sides of himself with split second precision is an award winning performance in and of itself. Clara instantly takes on responsibility,
apparently drawing on her nanny skills,in leading Herring's army against the new Cybermen. In the end however the story is punctuated by two unexpected twists. Though even more cyber controlled through much of the story as the doctor,its Alice who reveals Porridge's status as the missing Emperor-having grown board and lonely in his position to such a degree he decided to hide in the abandoned amusement park. The introduction of the Cybermites is certainly a fascinating modern update of the Cybermats seen in The Tomb Of The Cybermen. Another interesting quality mentioned again in this story is the doctors seeming mission,ever since the departure of Amy and Rory,of trying to erase himself from history. Of course,that will remain a whole other story.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Doctor Who-The Crimson Horror

                         Madame Vastra,Jenny and Strax are in 1893 Yorkshire investigating an unusual plague of bright red skinned corpses that seem to surround the private planned community of Sweetville, run by the reformist Mrs. Gillyflower and are referred to as The Crimson Horror. Disguising herself as a guest of one her Gillyflower's "sermons", Jenny manages to bribe another member of her congregation into creating a distraction to sneak into the back room to investigate-only to find herself in a strange industrial factory surrounded by vials of bright red liquid the same color as the corpses. Madame Vastra reunites with Jenny to find that she recognizes the liquid. Vastra has also noticed the face of the doctor in the eyes of one of the photographs taken of the corpses. Meanwhile Gillyflower's daughter Ada,blind and deformed,is caring for a friend of hers named she refers to as the monster. As it turns out,the monster is really the doctor who,after Jenny rescues him reveals he and Clara accidently arrived in Yorkshire in this town,where they came to the same conclusions about the mysterious Sweetville: the no one who goes in comes out. He and Clara are than selected as part of Gillyflower's plan: to emurce human beings in this red liquid which Vastra reveals as being the secretion of a Selurian era parasite that poisoned their drinking water 65 million years ago. 

                 While the doctor has revived himself using his sonic screwdriver, he is searching for Clara. Believing Clara to have died during their previous encounter,Jenny is surprised when the doctor finds her and is successful in reviving her.  It is not long after,however that the doctor reveals himself to Ada and Gillyflower discovers what he and Clara are trying to do. By than the doctor learns the truth about Ada. While being led to believe her injuries were bought on by an abusive alcoholic husband,Gillyflower had actually been experimenting on Ada in her plans to construct a rocket that would launch this parasitic liquid that woul,if functional would kill all humanity-leaving only the ones in Sweetville alive. The doctor,Clara and Ada than learn just who the mysterious owner of the community Mr.Swet is: one of the parasites that has attached itself to Gillyflower. After Clara disables the rocket launcher with a chair, Gillyflower goes to the launch by to attempt a manual launch. When she does,the finds Vastra has removed the liquid. And Strax kills her with his Silurian weapon-after which an enraged Ada clubs the parasitic lifeform to death before the doctor and Clara depart. After arriving home,Clara returns to a strange sight: the children she is caring for have noticed pictures of her and the doctor from across time on the internet. Realizing she is a time traveler,they make it clear they want in.

                   Framed in an extremely dark comedy atmosphere of a Victorian planned community,there are a number of interesting threads throughout this story. For one theirs the return of the team of Vastra,Jenny and Strax: characters who all seem to be there for the purpose of a potential future spin off series. Vastra and Jenny are the most helpful tot he doctor of course as they are able to provide the framework for the entire mystery. The real victim in the rather contemptible Mrs.Gillyflower's plans is not any merely just any number of those who succumbed to the poison her her "crimson horror". But rather her daughter Ada who she deforms,lies about and than turns her weakness for her supposedly heroic cause of Eugenics against her. As with a lot of the modern day Doctor Who stories, there's a mild return to the Gothic/Victorian horror with a sociopolitical twist of the Tom Baker era of the show. Of course the real twist is in the end. In particular the completely shocked expression on Clara's face when she returns to the time she left-only to find that her adventures across time with the doctor have resulted in her face being smeared across the internet. And knowledge of her being a time traveler now could be publicly known.


Saturday, November 16, 2013

Doctor Who-Journey To The Center Of The Tardis

                         The TARDIS finds itself buckling and leaking gas when it is unknowingly taken in by the Van Baalen brothers Bram,Gregor and Tricky as cosmic salvage. When the doctor comes to he notices Clara has gone missing. The doctor approaches the bickering brothers,all of whom present Tricky as being an android,to come on board to see for themselves that what they are salvaging is no mere escape pod as they had thought but an advanced space/time device. His real objective is to locate Clara. In actuality Clara is trapped inside the TARDIS,which stretches into an infinite maze of corridors and an impossibly huge library where she learns of the doctors origins. And even his real name. In their search Gregor,hoping to find new salvage material comes across the artificial replication technology that maintains and constructs all the technology aboard the TARDIS and removes one of its nodes. The TARDIS for its part goes on the defensive from this act-locking the doctor and the Van Baalens into the same mobius that's trapped Clara. The doctor and Clara both arrive in the same place-an exit-less echo of the TARDIS's secure control room but on different intersections of the damaged time continuum within it. Using his sonic screwdriver to bring Clara into his dimension he finds himself and the Van Baalens menaced by the same monsters which had beforehand been menacing Clara. 

                       The doctor knows who they are but will not reveal this to Clara. When a series of metal control rods penetrate Tricky along their journey to fix the damage at the heart of the TARDIS, his injury forces the doctor to reveal to him he is not an android,but Gregor's injured brother who sustained memory loss and physical damage requiring robotic implants. And that him being an android was a cruel practical joke on Gregor's part. When the doctor reaches the eye of harmony-actually an enormous star held forever in a near super nova state,he reveals the "time zombies" they've been seeing represent a future Clara and Van Baalen brothers if,that is the present time fracture continues. After the Van Baalens sync up with this time frame and only remain as zombies,the doctor locates a message etched into Clara's hand about a big friendly button. This reveals to him what he must do-send a device back through a time crack in the side of the TARDIS to himself and Clara before they met up with the Van Baalens ship that caused the whole disaster and reset time itself. While Clara believes her memory of the doctor will be erased after this the evidence shows,even when time resets so the TARDIS is undamaged that Clara,the doctor and even Gregor Van Baalen retained something for their experience.

                         A few Whovians I've seen recently online claim that this is among their least favorite Doctor Who stories ever. In my opinion its one of the strongest of the 11th doctor era stories I've yet seen. Over the now half century legacy of Doctor Who we've seen bits and pieces of the TARDIS. And we know it has a biological component with a personality. But few stories have ever delved into the  nature of what the TARDIS is and its relationship with the doctor on its own terms. We start out with Clara getting the feeling the TARDIS doesn't trust her-mirroring an extreme version of the doctor's own puzzlement of her impossible existence from his perspective. When the opportunistic Van Baalen brothers interfere with the damage they caused to the TARDIS,the initially inconsequential nature of their characters changes at the revelation of Tricky's true identity. This projects in a quick and subtle way the fundamental anti bullying message behind Doctor Who itself. Clara and the doctor both learn about how the really are here through this story-on opposite levels as Clara learns he is much more than she thought,the doctor learning she is far less than he suspected. Though time is reset at the end of the story,the lingering thread of that memory remains etched at a point beyond time and space.


Friday, November 15, 2013

Doctor Who-Hide

                          The doctor and Clara materialize within the haunted Caliburn Mansion in 1974,where former intelligence agent Professor Alec Palmer and his assistant Emma Grayling,an empathic psychic is using her abilities to aid in the search. While Palmer explains to the doctor his motivation for the search,Emma explains to Clara that her romantic feelings towards Palmer,which Clara is even able to pick up while the doctor requests Clara's help in searching for ghost they find a room of the mansion,which Palmer apparently purchased for himself,is colder than the others. Additionally Clara feels her hand is being held when the doctor isn't doing so.When he returns he finds a spinning black disc has appeared with a voice behind it saying "help me". He takes Clara with him the the TARDIS to photograph various points in human history to affirm his guesses,with Clara noting his lack of compassion for these events she finds transcendent.  When they return the doctor surmises from the photographs that they are dealing not with a ghost but a 23rd century human time traveler named Hila Tukurian.
                      Tukurian is trapped in a decaying pocket of space-moving so slowing that for every second in her time is a hundred thousand years on Earth. The only way the doctor can think of to rescue Tukurian from her imprisonment in time is to use a psychic projection device from Metabelis III to enhance Emma's empathetic abilities to to provide a gateway into the decaying time pocket. He is successful in rescuing Tukurian from a beast chasing them within the pocket. However Clara ends up having to retrieve the doctor herself in the TARDIS. After the doctor returns he reveals that Turkurian is Emma and Palmer's distant relative from a future coupling of theirs. Revealing his real reason for coming their was to consult Emma about the identity of Clara,he quickly returns to the time pocket where he realizes the creature grabbing Clara's hand earlier was actually the mate of the creature chasing them so, before leaving returns to retrieve its mate.

                       Very much set up with Steven Moffat's concept of a surreal horror/mystery element of Tom Baker era Doctor Who in mind,this story initially sets up a series of scenarios that don't seem to fit together. We have Emma and Alec-one shut off from their emotions and the other overwhelmed by them,who both love each other and are trying to avoid it. Than you have Clara and the doctor,both of whom are not sure if they can truly trust one another at all. In the meantime,the ghost they think they are searching for is actually a confirmation of Emma and Alec's feelings. And the actual ghost is realized accidentally by Clara,and is actually itself an alien creature in love. While the narrative is illustrated with the same kind of extreme space/time complication of a tale such as Warriors Gate,the general theme is a very non-cynical view on the emotion of love and empathy as being a vitally unused force within humanity. So the story,in the end is about the triumph of optimism and compassion.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Doctor Who-Cold War

                            On route to Las Vegas the doctor and Clara find themselves aboard a Soviet submarine in 1983,during the height of the cold war. The crew has captured what they believe to be a Mammoth but one of the crew of the submarine has thawed it prematurely-causing the systems on board to begin malfunctioning and the submarine to begin sinking. This coincides with the initial appearance of the TARDIS,and now Submarine commander Captain Zhukov immediately suspects the doctor and Clara of being Western spies. Before this can be resolved the submarine buckles and Clara is knocked out. When she awakens she find the submarine has sunken,oxygen and power on on minimum and the TARDIS has disappeared. Before the doctor can convince Zhukov and his crew of his good intentions they end up confronting the source of their troubles-not a mammoth as Zhukov had suspected but what the doctor instantly recognizes as an ice warrior. Said Ice Warrior introduces himself as Skaldak as a member of the crew attacks him out of fear. 

                     The doctor insists,due to the Ice Warriors Martian code of combat,should be locked up or the crew will be in danger of destruction. Not to mention Skaldak is one of the most revered Ice Warriors in Martian history. Wanting only to speak to the doctor,Zhukov only agrees that Clara be allowed in to negotiate as a neutral. Believing she is successful at first,the doctor and the submarine crew are petrified when Skaldak escapes from his protective armor,threatens the life of its crew and than the entire planet by swearing to begin a tactical nuclear strike with all Earth nations by launching the subs compliment of missiles. In  the end the doctor convinces Skaldak that human kind is evolving the same way his world had and,if he destroys them now,that won't be able to continue. When a Martian space craft comes to retrieve Skaldak,the doctors lesson in mercy pays off as he releases the ships power back to itself and disarms the missiles. Meanwhile the doctor and Clara hitch a ride back to the TARDIS,whose metaphoric panic button took it to the opposite pole, with the now jocular Zhukov.

                 Very much in the history of stories such as Tom Baker's Horror At Fang Rock or David Tennant's Midnight this is a very claustrophobic  bottle story that strong emphasizes character interaction. This story however has a far stronger sociopolitical back round than either. The sense of ever present danger doesn't come so much from Ice Warrior Skaldak-a triumphant return for the second/third doctor era alien adversary/sometimes ally,as it does from the atmosphere of the cold war as it reached its fevered pitch. The one character that really helps ease the high tension level is Professor Grisenko who,brilliantly realized by David Warner (a favorite actor of mine being a Star Trek admirer in particular) who is very Western oriented and whose love of new wave music by Ultravox and in particular Duran Duran's "Hungry Like The Wolf" provide some lightly comedic comfort to an understandably frightened Clara. This element,as well as Captain Zhukov's willingness to negotiation with Skaldak,provides for the doctor to witness Soviet Russian culture as it was about to enter the era of Perestroika. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Doctor Who-The Rings Of Akhaten

                     After exploring the meeting of Clara Oswald's parents over a leaf gifted between them,and the premature passing of her mother the doctor asks Clara to choose anywhere in space and time she wishes to go-just as he had with many a companion before her. She requests to go "somewhere awesome". He takes her to the scenically dynamic rings of Akhaten,part of a planetary system of seven worlds who all believe that a great temple residing within the rings are the seeds of all life within the universe. During their journey,Clara encounters a runaway child who reveals herself as Merry Galel,Queen Of Years. She is hiding from the obligation of singing a special song for someone called Grandfather,
though she fluently knows every song and myth of her culture to perfection. She meets back up with the Doctor,who follow Merry as she sings what the doctor describes as a never ending lullaby to their god. Suddenly the ground trembles and Merry is carried away. Clara desires to help,so the doctor and her have to come up with a plan fast.

                        Knowing this species trades in valuable objects that give a signature of personal experience to their gods,Clara trades in the ring her mother gave her for a stellar moped which she and the doctor use to travel to the temple-where Merry is being held with a singing companion the remainder of the eternal lullaby which,interesting enough is coming to an end. When the beastly god they worship becomes conscious,the doctor attempts to help Merry-unwilling to escape what she believes to be her fate,that their god is simply a type of vampire who consumes the memories and souls of other lifeforms. While Merry uses another song to re-open the door that even the sonic screwdriver found heavy,they escape the vampire god when the doctor realizes its part of a much larger entity in surrounding the temple. As Merry continues to sing to appease her peoples god,the doctor offers the overwhelming sum of his own experience until Clara intervenes-returning to the doctor and offers up the leaf that was her parents courtship betrothal-because it was presented by her father as the most important peace of human history for her. Drawing from its further wealth of experience for her,the entity spares the many peoples of Akhaten and Clara resumes her journey's with the doctor,so long as he excepts her on her own terms rather than his perceptions of their past meetings.

                   Throughout its history Doctor Who has long dealt with religion and spirituality to such a degree that many contend that Doctor Who itself is akin to a religion. This particular story uses the motivations of the doctor and Clara to ask a number of vital philosophical questions about the value of ones memories and history. The doctor,who has witnessed everything of and between the beginning and end of time,is yet not enough to appease the emotionally gluttonous god of Akhaten. The point is made so eloquently in the story that the entity is filled to the point of implosion by what it receives from Clara's leaf which,as she explains,is the sum of the many different realities unborn from her mother's un-lived life that was cut short. This seemingly simple statement came to me as a profound moment whereby life,metaphysics,scientific and temporal reality all met at a very important focal point. This sense of disconnection had an atypical effect on Clara as it does on many young people who lose family. She develops a maternal type connection to Merry Galel. And although strong personal experience of many sustain the Akhaten god Clara is able to see and learn from the one thing that soothes it: what amounts to a lullaby song sung by a little girl.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Doctor Who-The Bells Of Saint John

                          A man on a computer screen warns people all over the world not to log onto an unusual glyph for WiFi internet access because it will spread and their souls will end up like his-uploaded to a computer and their bodies dead. Meanwhile the doctor,living as a monk in early 11th century Cumbria received a call in his TARDIS from a women identifying herself as Clara,a nanny who has been having difficulty logging online herself. Thinking the doctor is a computer tech,she guesses "run clever boy" as her internet password. This prompts the doctor to go looking for her,realizing she is in fact Clara Oswin Oswald (who from his point of view has died twice) only to find she again doesn't know him. Skeptical of him in his monk garb,he changes into a new burgundy suit and returns to find Clara apparently dead. She saw a character from a book read by one of the children she was caring for who apparently had uploaded her using the same technology used for all the others. What they don't know is that that a lady named Miss Kizlet is under orders from an unknown client to use an enormous staff and alien technology to upload human minds using WiFi for the clients own personal storage. The doctor is able to use the sonic screwdriver to restore Clara to her body. When she is restored she has enhanced computer knowledge and remembers nothing if their earlier encounter. 

                   Later that day at a cafe,the doctor confirms what he suspected earlier that day: that people the world over are being manipulated by someone controlling biological fields through WiFi-to the point where Miss Kizlet is able to talk to him through the mouths of people within the cafe. By this time Clara has been able to determine Kizlet is operating out of The Shard. Being the only one so far to escape her operation Kizlet wants Clara back very badly. She describes her client as someone who is in love with human minds. By this point however Clara has been fully integrated back into Kizlets system by another WiFi base robot,like the girl she met earlier who appeared to be the doctor. The doctor meanwhile drives his special anti grav motor cycle up the side of the Shard and attempts to convince Kizlet face to face. In a few minutes she learns its not the doctor at all-its the re-programmed WiFi base system robot she used to absorb Clare-now in the doctors control. He manages to lock her into the system-forcing her staff to download all the human minds,whom they were apparently saving for the Great Intelligence,back to where they originally came from. Her staff have no idea what they are doing. And Miss Kizlet in fact only sees herself as a lost little girl. Meanwhile the doctor invites Clara,willing to travel so long as she can return to her life on 21st century Earth,to travel with him on the TARDIS in order to fill her book of places to see. More or less.

                  Since the beginning of Doctor Who,the doctor is a character who tends to reveal only other questions when it comes to his identity being revealed. While many of his companions have in fact been mysterious at first,Clara Oswin Oswald is literally an "impossible girl" who seems to reincarnate in a similar manner to the regeneration of a time lord. She claims not to remember the doctor,yet he remember her and feels otherwise. So with Clara he has truly met his match of mystery in a travelling companion. Also this story will have computer enthusiasts and conspiracy theorists alike astounding with it's portrayal of modern WiFi connection being used as not only a method of mind control,but of uploading the minds of people as if they were simple computer files. Typically the doctor engages in his "trolling the villain" routine with the manipulated Miss Kizlet-who is actually convinced she is the manipulator. The very unexpected scene in which the doctor climes The Shard in his ant grav motor cycle is a reminder of the epic FX that the modern day Doctor Who is able to realize. So from story line,special effects and the solid introduction of Clara as the 11th doctors companion 'The Bells Of Saint John' succeeds on every possible level.


Monday, November 11, 2013

Doctor Who-The Snowmen

                          In Victorian London in 1892,a man named Doctor Simeon promises several men food if they gather snow for him,presumably for his Great Intelligence Industries. Shortly afterward a group of carnivorous snowmen appear and devour the human men. The doctor is using his allies-the Silurian Vastra and her human wife Jenny and the Sontaran Strax to investigate further while the doctor himself remains in the shadows,having lost all interest in helping humanity after the loses of Amy and Rory. A young woman named Clara is investigating too,noticing a disturbances-actually the same snowmen outside the tavern where she is employed. The nearest person she encounters is the doctor,who she 
accuses of building the snowmen. From what he sees he's determined the snow has its own life force. But still refuses to do anything-requesting Strax give her a memory wiping alien worm so she'll forget him. He then lets her to understand that her thoughts are creating the snowmen,and of course she uses her thoughts afterward to melt them. She then follows him to a ladder which he uses to ascend on a spiral staircase to his TARDIS but,when he notices Clara she makes a fast retreat.

                   Clara then resumes another job-this one as a governess for two children of a Captain Latimer-one of whom is having nightmares about their former governess coming back from the dead and telling her they've been bad. When Clara learns that the deceased governesses body is buried beneath the only nearby frozen mass of ice,she takes the children to bed-promising them comfort in the form of a story about the doctor. She believes he will appear,however they are visited by the frozen form of their former governess,just as in the Latimer daughter's dream. Luckily the doctor is also there,using his newly refitted sonic screwdriver to temporarily melt the ice creature. While it does reform and give chase,Clara and the Latimer children follow the doctor-disguised as Sherlock Holmes,to Doctor Simeon's Great Intelligence Institute where he confronts the Simeon of the revelation of the psychic snow-able to conjure thoughts into physical being. The ice governess then re-appears while the doctor drags Clara back to the TARDIS-where he entrusts her with the TARDIS key after her awareness of it is revealed.

                 While the doctor prepares to complete the mission in the TARDIS,Clara is captured by the ice governess and hauled back to Doctor Simeon. The doctor materializes the TARDIS over Clara and reveals his confidence that she will stay alive while he confronts Simeon. He's now deduces that psychic snow is actually a receptacle for the anti social thoughts that Simeon has had since he first encountered the Intelligence as a child. Intending to invade the world with an army of deep frozen snowmen,the doctor manages to use the memory worm to erase Simeons memory-which inadvertently allows the Intelligence to fully take over his body and he attempts to kill the doctor. But the snow suddenly turns to rain. Apparently Clara and the Latimer family's sadness is also affecting the psychic snow. And Simeon's body dies in the process. And Clara dies on Christmas morning,so the doctor is lead to believe. Later at Clara's funereal he notices her middle and last initials are Oswin Oswald. Remembering his encounter with her on the Dalek Asylum and her death there,he leaves to go searching for whom he has now christened "the impossible girl".

                   Statistically this Doctor Who Christmas story is the fourth most viewed TV show in the UK on Christmas. There are many important features to this story. The use of the great intelligence again-from the Patrick Troughton era of the show. Also theirs the introduction of the doctors new burgundy suit and a newly redecorated TARDIS control room-which is far more streamlined and space age in the manner of the classic TARDIS interior design. This story serves mainly as an introduction for the doctors mysterious and mercurial new companion Clara Oswin Oswald. However Richard E. Grant's Doctor Simeon and Sir Ian McKellan's voicing of the Great Intelligence is often underscored by the massive changes to the doctor himself. In the beginning the doctor has become an uncharacteristically EMO type character-avoiding any attempts to show caring for humanity-even to the point of verbal cruelty to Strax and showing mistrust of Clara as he uses Vastra to test her knowledge of the situation with a one word test. Considering the thrust of the whole story is literally emotion driving everyone's actions and motivations, this is a very dramatically heady but strong Doctor Who Christmas story.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Doctor Who-The Angels Take Manhattan

                          In 1938 New York City,a man named Grayle hires a PI named Sam Garner to investigate a group of moving statues at the Winter Quay apartments. Upon going there he finds himself unknowingly surrounded by weeping angels,who have also taken over the statue of liberty on the rooftop after he's found his elderly future self in one of the apartment bedrooms. Meanwhile in 2012 NYC,the doctor is vacationing with the Ponds while reading what he thinks is a functional book about a NYC PI named Melody Melone he found in his pocket. All of this changes when the doctor notices Rory's going to find coffee for Amy is recorded in the book. And he realizes the future of his companions is being written as he speaks. By this time,Rory has already been sent back in time by the angels. Following clues from the book,the doctor attempts to take the TARDIS back to 1938 but finds massive temporal displacements there. But not before he and Amy discover Rory's name on a gravestone. Again using the books clues to travel to ancient China for yet more clues,he finds out the identity of Melody Melone is actually River Song.

                     It was River who'd pulled her own father backward in time as she investigated the angels Grayle was keeping as part of his personal collection.  And River's Melody Melone book is based on her experiences of investigation as a warning to the doctor. Rory is sent to the basement of the Winter Quay where he is menaced by a group of cherub angels. He ultimately does escape to Winter Quay. Trapped by an angel grasping her hand,River breaks her own wrist to free herself  Following the doctor using his regenerative energy to heal her she,the doctor and Amy follow Rory to Winter Quay where they find an elderly Rory who has died. The doctor realizes the angels,who feed of time energy have turned the massively populated NYC into a giant repository to feed off of. Understanding it would take a massive paradox in order to keep angels repository at Winters Quay from existing,Rory deems to throw himself from the building-believing since the building never existed he won't die. Amy chooses to fall with him,after which they wake up together with the doctor,River and the TARDIS in a graveyard. When Rory notices his name on a grave,he disappears back in time as the doctor notices a surviving angel. Realizing its the only way she can be with Rory again,Amy joins him much to the distress of a distraught doctor-who departs with River Song in the TARDIS-in order to read the afterward in the Melody Melone novel written by Amy Pond herself.

                 As a vehicle for the departure of Amy Pond and Rory Williams as companions,this story also showcases enormous personal growth for the doctor as well. Especially in the presence of the extremely powerful weeping angels,who hold the power of time in their hands to such an enormous degree they force others to literally pay attention to them,the stress level amid the characters comes to critical mass. River Song's relationship with the doctor has become strained,as she's come to view him as every bit the deceptive individual that she can be. Her increased cynicism in regard to the doctor is equally matched by Amy's intense feelings of love for Rory. Understanding his impending death leads her to making one sacrifice in this story after another to try and save his life. Including joining him for a life lived in the past,a fixed life the doctor cannot alter without a literally Earth shattering temporal paradox. I've never actually seen the doctor show such intense emotion at the loss of companions before-not even in cases of enormous personal sacrifices such as the fates met by Adric or Donna Noble. This is one of the finest weeping angel stories done in the series. And a very poetic and emotional send off for Amy and Rory. At least we think its a send off. One never knows with the last of the time lords,do they?

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Doctor Who-The Power Of Three

                         While contemplating leaving behind their life of space/time adventure with the doctor on the TARDIS,Amy and Rory find their private lives interrupted by the arrival of identical black cubes all over the planet. The doctor of course is already investigating-agreeing to stay with the Ponds and Rory's father Bryan while they investigate the situation further. As humanity struggle in the media to find meaning to these mysterious objects,the doctor leaves the Earth for a time to investigate on his own. Returning as the Ponds have elected to make commitments to in their own lives,the doctor returns to investigate further. This time the cubes have begun to move,one even penetrating Amy's hand to take its pulse. Meanwhile,patients at the hospital Rory works in have suddenly been disappearing. The Ponds home is then chanced upon by Kate Stewart of UNIT-now a more scientifically based organization seeking to investigate further. None of their experiments have been able to harm the cubes. Having taken some of the cubes into custody,each react in a different in a totally different way. And each have begun counting down.

                      The doctor volunteers to remain confined with one cube as it counts to to zero. When the cube opens Stewart,now realized as the deceased Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart's daughter-along with Amy and Rory notice on the monitors that anyone near the vicinity of a cube,all seeming to land en mass near seven important electrical power installations word wide,have all began to suffer cardiac arrests and starting to die. One of the doctors hearts begins experiencing the same effect,though he is able to stay focused enough to deduce that the cubes were actually advanced scanners-designed specifically to short out human cardiac functions. He manages to localize an electrically charged portal that leads he and the Ponds to an orbiting spaceship where the vanished patients,including Bryan,and subject to the mercy of the Shakri. A race understood by Galifreyeans to be a myth,the Shakri are using the cubes to destroy humanity-seeing them as an infestation according to their own personal mythos. The Shakri they meet up with is only a hologram luckily. And the doctor is able to feed back to control the cubes to reactivate the cardiac functions of all effected humans. Before departing Earth again,the Ponds return on their journey's with him with the kindly encouragement of Rory's father Bryan.

                     While an excellent story on many levels,including the introduction of the Brigadier's daughter Kate as a story element with UNIT along with Bryan Williams again as a temporary companion,the main thrust of this story is synergy. The Ponds are debating within themselves which is the more productive life for them: the breakneck speed at which their lives move in the company of the doctor,or their relatively mundane life as regular human citizens. The doctor meanwhile faces up to the fact that he has actually developed a closely intimate friendship with Amy and Rory-much as he had with Sarah Jane Smith many regeneration's before. In their mission to solve the mystery of the Shakri cubes,they of course all end up saving the world. Yet its the sometimes slow journey to that which makes all the difference-especially for the doctor. He is forced to slow down to the (in his eyes anyway) plodding pace of average human existence-resorting to household chores and even a few Wii games to alleviate boredom. By elevating a tale essentially about the intensity with which the doctor experiences friendship,this is probably one of the best stories focusing on the inner psyche of the doctor himself.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Doctor Who-A Town Called Mercy

                          The doctor,Amy and Rory arrive in a 19th century American frontier town called Mercy,which has a puzzling keep out sign. When the doctor dismissively crosses that line,he finds a group of towns people drawing pistols at him. He and the Ponds are taken in by Sheriff Isaac,who at first tells them that a mysterious gunslinger is blocking the town off from food and supplies and killing anyone attempting to leave-that is until an "alien doctor" shows up whom he's looking for. When the doctor agrees to sacrifice himself to save the town,Isaac confesses the alien doctor is already in town. He is a Kahler Jex,a surgeon from a race of ingenious engineers who has not only cured a cholera epidemic in Mercy but also provided them with electric lighting. So the doctor agrees to go with Isaac,Amy and Rory to the outskirts of town to seek out the gunslinger pursuing Jex.

                   While he companions successfully fend off the cyborg gunslinger,the doctor manages to use his sonic screwdriver to to access the personal database in Jex's egg like spacecraft. He returns to the town to find the Jex has been lying all along. Jex was in fact a military surgeon who had created the gunslinger,actually called Kahler Tech,through cruel medical experiments on sentient beings. Tech has been pursuing him to gain justice for Jex's misdeeds as a war criminal. While the doctor is equally as furious,Amy reminds him of the irony of his attitude towards Jex-even as Isaac is killed in crossfire. Now the sheriff,the doctor agrees to protect Jex from his creation-even fending off the frightened towns people in a lynch mob. The situation is handled when the doctor agrees to face of Kahler Tech in a shoot out-creating a distraction while Jex escapes. Jex invariably agrees to end his life to face his misdeeds. Unsure of his place on his own world following Jex's death,Tech elects to remain as a peaceful protector of Mercy as the doctor and his companions depart in the TARDIS.

                  This is one of the strongest and most cleverly conceived stories of Matt Smith's time on Doctor Who. The plot itself blends the themes of revenge and redemption found in a quality  Western with a science fiction twist-in this case an alien character who attempts to redeem himself in a small and less advanced community to make up for his Nazi doctor-like war crimes. In a theme that's played out ever since Galifrey was destroyed in the last great time war,Jex and Amy alike both question the doctors anger at the immorality of Jex's actions and self preserving attempt at redemption. The doctor redeems this when he faces off the towns lynch mob,contradicting their original principles as they demand Jex be handed over to them,by delivering an iconic line: "Violence doesn't end violence-it extends it". Reminding himself of the oath he took for himself before his home world was destroyed,the doctor manages to restore the peace Mercy had found by part of the very means that almost threatened it in this quality story.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Doctor Who-Dinosaurs On A Spaceship

                         The doctor journey's throughout time to convince Queen Nefertiti in ancient Egypt,an English big game hunter in Africa named Ridell and of course "the Ponds" to investigate a massive spacecraft about to crash into the Planet Earth in the mid 24th century. Materializing around the Ponds home,the doctor doesn't realize he is about to take on not only Amy and Rory but his father Bryan,a homebody whose never ventured much beyond his own neighborhood. Once on board the ship,they all confront the seemingly impossible presence of dinosaurs on board-including a Triceratops and flying Pterodactyl .Splitting into teams the doctor,Rory and his father find themselves in the spaceship's   hydraulic engine core-only to discover using a computer interface that another ship within this one is causing its course to Earth. Amy has encountered another console at random-managing to ascertain from found log records that the TARDIS is on board a Silurian ark-containing a number of different lifeforms from Earth.

                              Tracing the signal from the intruding spaceship to its source,it turns out that the ship was piloted by an alien trader named Solomon-who planned to impound the Silurian ark to trade in for a large personal profit. Unfortunately his ship damaged the ark,setting it off course towards its possible collision with the Earth. Solomon then attempts to hold the doctor hostage by means of his two temperamental  (and apparently second hand) robot lackey's in lieu of the doctor conceding to his agreement that Nefertiti join him as a personal consort in exchange for Solomon departing in his spaceship The doctor escapes and Nefertiti,having heard and understood Solomon's demands on the ark's communication grid agrees to his demands as the doctor,Rory and Bryan manage to get past Solomon to the ships control deck-but not before Solomon murders the Triceratops. Rory and his father manage to reverse the course of the ark-separating Solomon's from it as the missiles already launched from Earth are redirected to his ship rather than the ark. After returning everyone to their proper time periods,including uniting Ridell and Nefertiti,Rory is now confronted by  his father suddenly becoming a world traveler.

                         In this story history,science,comedy,drama,adventure and pointed social commentary blend together in such epic and ultra fast paced proportions its hard to know where the story is going sometimes. Much of the social commentary is linked the the comedic elements-such as the regal and proud Queen Nefertiti generally only being able to relate to Amy Pond's strong assertions of femininity. Rory's father Bryan,an accidental character if their ever was one,proves the most altered by his adventures on the runaway Silurian ark. His best scene involves him,eating a simple lunch from his metal pain look down at the Earth from the steps of the TARDIS,similar to what his daughter and law Amy experienced during her initial voyages with the doctor. One particular touching scene is how much compassion the doctor shows the Triceratops as its dying, after being shot by Solomon in under twenty seconds. The dinosaur chases in this story are extremely well done and is probably some of the best realized dinosaur related effects in any Doctor Who era. Though it does a lot,this is a story that genuinely benefits from the modern shows higher octane pacing.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Doctor Who-Asylum Of The Daleks

                     After being summoned to Skaro by someone who presents themselves as someone whose daughter is being held captive by the Daleks,the doctor finds himself whisked away by this apparent Dalek/human hybrid to an unknown holding cell. Meanwhile Amy Pond,apparently having marital troubles,finds herself and Rory both facing the same situation-finding themselves before the Dalek parliament who,for once require their help. A unknown spaceship has crashed on a planetary asylum for damaged Daleks and the parliament wish the doctor,Amy and Rory to help track it down. Meanwhile the parliament receive a signal before the doctor confirming this by an unusual humanoid girl who along with her ship have somehow managed to evade the Daleks. However the planet contains a protective nano cloud that transforms any living creature,living or dead,into an adjunct Dalek hybrid. So before teleporting down the trio must use a specialized device that allows them to travel there safely. 

                        Once arriving Amy encounters an individual from the Spaceship Alaska,ostensibly the ship the crashed there. The doctor has encountered a Dalek eye piece through which he is communicating with the unusual spaceship passenger,who addresses herself as Oswin Oswald,a crew member on board the Alaska. Rory for his part was deposited deep within the center of the Dalek asylum-facing a group of semi conscious Daleks. As the doctor and Amy investigate the remains of the spaceship,the find the man Amy first met is actually dead,as is his crew having been effecting by the Dalek nano cloud. Fending off what essentially amounts to Dalek zombies,the doctor discovers Amy's nano proof bracelet has been removed. As her neurology is being altered,the doctor and her teleport below to discover Rory while the doctor,after fending off and overloading a group of the prisoner Daleks, goes searching for the elusive Oswald.

                          Recognition of Amy's symptoms helps Rory to resolve their personal differences. Realizing his love for Amy is stronger,he offers her his anti nano bracelet while the doctor completes his own mission. He finds to his disappointment that Oswald was apparently so clever a human on the Alaska that the Daleks' made her completely into one of them-without her being aware of it. At first almost overcome away from her humanity by the revelation,the doctor convinces her to stay human long enough to go through with her plan to knock down the shield preventing them from leaving the telepad. And upon doing this the signal feeds back and the asylum planet is destroyed just after the transport is completed. Thankfully upon arriving back at the Parliament ship,the hive mind located on that world linking them all together is severed. And the Daleks no longer remember the doctor as their enemy. Liberated from the effects of the nano cloud,Amy and Rory are returned to a hopefully happy future as the doctor departs yet again.

                       The conclusion to this story offers up a concept that,if followed through in the future,could represent the end of the Daleks confrontation with the doctor. There are a couple perhaps unintended Star Trek references in this story. In her first appearance in Doctor Who,Jenna Louise Coleman's "Oswin" Oswald makes mention of a planet Vulcan,where the doctor has been before. Also the idea of the Daleks being interlinked by a hive mind controlling them to a degree is closer to Star Trek's Borg than Doctor Who's cybermen,who assimilate but are individuals. This is also an important story,not only with its epic production scale but for the Amy/Rory relationship-with Amy revealing in a rare moment of vulnerability to Rory that the events of Series 6 involving her daughter motivated her to attempt to end their nuptials-due to being rendered sterile apparently. It is a fitting way to begin series 7 of Doctor Who and opens the door for a number of possible new directions as well.