Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Doctor Who-The End Of Time

                          While visiting a church on Earth during Christmas,a mysterious woman in white shows Wilf a caricature of the TARDIS in a stained glass window-talking about the legend of the blue box and its eminent return. Meanwhile the psychic Odd Sigma has called the doctor to a seance where they prophesize the end of time itself-personified in the image of Lucy Saxon,ex wife of the man the doctor knows as the Master and two unrecognized human figures. The doctor returns to Earth to meet Wilf-regaling his senior bus group with tales of his experiences with the doctor. What they don't know is a cult of Harold Saxon (the Master) has broken Lucy from her prison and used her DNA as part of a ritual that uses the energy created by their deaths and the destruction of the prison to restore the Master back to life.

                       As the doctor explains to Wilf about the end of his life,he notices in a news report on the TV of the cafe they are at that someone seems to have escaped from the prison where Lucy Saxon had been and which was destroyed. He travels there with Wilf's seniors group in tow to confront the now revived master-now a manic,unhinged man in constant need of food and haunted constantly by a constant rhythm he hears within his mind. Trying to convince the Master to join him instead of fighting him,the Master uses his super human strength resulting from his rebirth to escape the doctor via a helicopter. The doctor and Wilf travel back to London to search for the Master. When Wilf returns,his granddaughter Donna Noble hands him a book by a Joshua Naismith-saying it will assist him.

                     Wilf is then again visited by the woman in white saying he must arm himself. He takes his old military gun into his pocket and follows the doctor on his mission to pursue Mister Naismith. When they meet him,turns out he is actually working with the Master to develop an immortality gate he believes will give his daughter Abigail eternal life. The doctor confronts the two scientists who work for the Master-actually disguised members of the Cactus-like Vinvocci race. This gate is actually a simple medical device of their world,used by the Master when the Vinvocci survey team arrived to survey the asteroid belt. As President Obama is about to unveil his new financial stimulus plan to the world in the US,the Master enters into the device where,after he and every human on Earth experiences a brief head seizure,all human beings have literally become the Master himself. With the exception of the doctor,Wilf and Donna.

                 After the tied up doctor and Wilf manage to convince the weakened Master removing their gagging,one of the Master's masked soldiers reveals themselves to be one of the Vinvocci scientists who allows the doctor and Wilf to take refuge on their survey ship after Donna passes out when recalling her experiences with the doctor-knocking out the Master clones advancing on her. The Master meanwhile mobilizes every soldier on Earth,all him of course as one gigantic weapon against his enemies. 

              While the doctor leaves them the survey ship dead in space when trying to stop the Vinvocci from running away from what they view as a doomed world,the Master is sent a whitepoint star diamond from Rassilon-lord president of Galifrey who is looking to use the Master, tormented by the sound of the rhythms of time itself by being forced to look directly into the time vortex itself,to fascinate Galifrey's return from the timelock it had been in since the conclusion of the time wars. 

                 He launches a massive series of tactical missile strikes against the Vinvocci survey vessel,which they survive as the doctor calls upon Wilf's experiences as a fighter pilot in WWII to destroy them with the Vinvocci scientists assistance. When the return to the Master's headquarters,formerly that of Naismiths,he finds Rassilon and the council of time lords before them-the planet Galifrey itself moving into position and about to knock Earth out of its orbit. Having been gifted Wilf's gun on the survey ship,the doctor is caught between shooting the Master and the time lords. He elects to destroy the Master's gate-restoring all humans on Earth to normal. 

             The Master sacrifices himself to send Rassilon,the time lords and Galifrey back into the time lock in revenge for what they did to him and the doctor survives to find Wilf in the immortality gate chamber-about to be flooded by radiation. Unable to see Wilf die,the doctor replaces himself for Wilf-absorbing the massive level of radiation created by the Master's armed nuclear bolt. After the regeneration process begins,the doctor travels across the Earth-visiting companions such as Donna Noble,Martha and Micky along with Rose Tyler and stalwart Sarah Jane Smith. When he returns to the TARDIS,the doctor regenerates so violently he crashes to Earth in the first few seconds of his regeneration into his eleventh incarnation.

                This extremely involved story ties so many elements together its hard to explain it easily. The doctor confronting the possible end of his life,his own people resorting to ending all time to stop the time war and destroy humanity and the manic insanity of the Master-revealed her as actually a tormented character seeking only to ebb his madness and seek vengeance on those who caused it. This might explain the doctors continued sympathy and protection of him throughout the series. Through the doctor's experience with the plucky Wilf,he realizes after reuniting with his companions in the end that he does't want to go. And 
atypically regenerates in sadness. Timothy Dalton gives a great performance as the obsessive Rassilon-alas now just as obsessed with survival as the Master had become. This is a story where the doctor again points to the eventual corruption of his own species. And how that,on many occasions,almost resulted in destruction of Earth and all of time as well.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Doctor Who-The Doctor,The Widow & The Wardrobe

                         Falling out of the sky after an encounter with aliens,the doctor falls to Earth inside a spacesuit,put on backwards,into late 1930's England to be assisted back to his TARDIS by a Madge Arwell-wife of Reg and mother of daughter Lily and stargazing son Cyril. Grateful for her assistance,the doctor vows to be at her willing assistance if she wishes for him to come. In 1941 when Reg goes missing in his plane over the English channel,the doctor returns in the personage of the character of a shelter where Madge has taken her children for protection during the London blitz. While he has decorated the home,especially the children's room,in a fancifully whimsical manner Madge is traumatized by the loss of her husband. And has elected not to tell Lily and Cyril as it's Christmas time. 

                    During the night  Cyril awakens to sneak a look at his present put under the tree by the mysterious but kindly caretaker (the doctor,of course) and finds in the huge box a door into a beautiful wintery forest-where trees create their own decorations as it were. One even falls to the ground and expands into a growing sphere of wood. Lily and the doctor join together when the find Cyril has gone missing,and follow him through into the wintery forest. The doctor has intended this as a gift for Cyril. However he observes the trees speaking to each other in whispers-atypical behavior indicating something has gone wrong. Madge herself enters the box herself to be set upon by an expedition,who respond to her protective actions as a mother and explain to her what has occurred.

                       The expedition are from Androzani Major-a world where the living trees are a prized commodity. They intend to melt down the trees of the forest using artificially created acid rain in order to harvest their natural life force. Meanwhile the doctor and Lily follow Cyril's footsteps into an elaborate wooden structure where they encounter regal looking wooden humanoids. Cyril meanwhile is upstairs with one such humanoid, who places a golden crown upon his head. By the time the doctors and Lily reach him,he is unconscious. He awakens to tell them he hears the trees talking. From out the window Lily notices the trees covered by stars,which the doctors explain are pure life force about to ascend. 

                     Speaking through Cyril,with the crown apparently a relay the life forces of the trees deem him as too weak. Same goes for the doctor and Lily as well. Soon enough the doctor notices the beginning of the acid rain. And the sound of the Androzani land vessel coming toward them-piloted improvisationally by Madge as the original crew had escaped at the beginning of the acid rain fall. When she arrives to rescue her children,she takes the relay,believing it to be a crown and puts it on her head. The life force of the trees are intending to use a strong individual to carry their energy as a symbiotic biological lifeboat. The life force stars enter into Madge's apparently unfazed mind as the rounded tower they are in takes off into the night sky.

                     Realizing that Madge's thoughts are controlling the vessel,the doctor advises her to focus on her home. This forces her to recall the memory of her lost husband,and the children to begin to learn of the news she has been hiding from them. After landing back on Earth in their proper time and place,the doctor leaves the sphere to give Madge privacy to tell her children of their fathers supposed fate. Yet outside he finds a surprise he asks them to come see. Apparently,the sphere's trip through the time vortex at Madge's hands had provided a guiding light for her husband to steer his plane into safety and be with them for Christmas. Having reunited the Arwell family the doctor,at Madge's maternal suggested,
returns to the TARDIS where he meets Amy and Rory for Christmas dinner-where River Song has told them about him still being alive and where they had been setting a table every Christmas for the two years he'd apparently been away.

                    Over time the doctor has had a fickle relationship with domesticity: alternately embracing and dismissing it. In this story, everything he does is based around his interest in the Arwell children and their healthy curiosities. He is continually surprised by Madge's sometimes brash maternal confidence,accepting her inability to tell her children of their father's fate due to her protectiveness and concern for single motherhood in the ward times of the second world war. A re-visitation of Androzani from the final fifth doctor story,and the story of it's life force trees has a well written and vitally metaphoric message about environmentalism and deforestation as well. Overall this is a fantastic Doctor Who Christmas tale full of the love of family enduring through hardship,the significance of the power of both mother and fatherhood and of course the importance of respecting life in all it's forms.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Doctor Who-The Time Of The Doctor

                         A massive fleet of ships from the Daleks,Cybermen,Sontarans and many other species are converging in orbit a planet to try to decipher a message they cannot understand. When the doctor arrives,with the help of a disembodied Cyberman cranial unit (which he calls Handles) for navigational guidance. While continuing to appear in dangerous places in his quest to discover the message-such as a Dalek ship,the doctor is phoned by Clara who asks him to join her for Christmas dinner with her parents. And to help her with her holiday Turkey,which he places in an active time vortex. When Clara arrives the doctor is naked revealing that,after agreeing to his visitation with Clara's parents for the holiday dinner,he and Clara must appear naked before the Papal Mainframe-a galactic church headed up by Mother Superious Tasha Lem,whom the doctor has previously encountered. Before this encounter Handles informs the doctor and Clara that they planet they are orbiting is Galifrey.

                     After a failed attempt to seduce the doctor aboard the Mainframe,during which which time Clara has an encounter with the Silence that she,of course,doesn't remember,she finds herself and the doctor sent to the surface of the planet to a town called Christmas-surrounded by a truth field so no one can lie. While exploring the planet,the doctor and Clara discover the same crack in the wall that they encounter the same crack in time and space that he originally found on the wall of a young Amy Pond when he first encountered her-that time where the universe collapsed and the doctor was forced to save it by remaining within the Pandorica. The doctor realizes what is happening when he finally translates the mysterious message: asking after his name. He realizes this is a warning from his people. That this crack has always represented Galifrey's presence in another universe and that the revelation of his identity can revitalize his people and world.

                      At that point a holographic image of Tasha Lem appears in the sky to warn the doctor that if he continues on his course to reveal his name,the time war will begin and all of his enemies will hunt him down. To prevent this,since the doctor can no longer lie in the town of Christmas, the the Papal Mainframe has now become the Church Of The Silence in order to prevent the doctor from revitalizing his people-the Silence themselves acting as high priests of that order. Also Lem reveals the planetary location of the town as Trenzalore,where they doctor understands he will be laid to rest. And that she is willing to let the doctor be attacked if it means stopping the carnage should the time war begin anew. In order to prevent the townspeople of Christmas from being destroyed,he remains there to protect them from the onslaught of his enemies for 300 years. He tricks Clara into plugging a device into the TARDIS and returns her home.
                      When Clara arrives back on Trenzalore the now 1500 year old doctor explains he is reaching the end of his lifetime and ability to regenerate. He wishes to die here helping the people of Trenzalore from being destroyed by his own enemies. A meeting between the doctor,Clara and Tasha Lem reveals that the Kovarian chapter of the Silence church had splintered off to prevent the doctor from reaching his current location. Of course the Daleks had turned Lem into a Dalek puppet after being re-educated about the doctor via a DNA sample the doctor tricks Clara into returning home to the TARDIS again. When she re-emerges she finds the Lem operating the TARDIS to return Clara to Trenzalore so the doctor won't die alone. She finds an elderly and infirm doctor still protecting the people of Christmas from his enemies,and soon facing a massive Dalek army. 

                   Clara than pleads to the crack in the wall for the time lords not to allow the doctors life to end. And that the doctor is the name she will always identify him with. Just before his death at the hands of the Dalek army atop the town clock tower,a massive amount of regenerative energy enters into the body of the doctor through another crack in the universe which opens in the sky-which he uses to destroy the Dalek fleet and save the people of the town of Christmas. Clara than finds herself home again,
with the now fully cooked Turkey in hand and missing the doctor at her families Christmas table,the doctor reappears in the TARDIS as a young man again-facing a longer winded regeneration as his current life is being rewritten. He experiences a vision of Amy Pond,the first face he saw,who he finally says the goodbye he always wished to. Then before Clara's eyes,he changed into his 13th regeneration with only one minute problem: he was no longer aware how to pilot the TARDIS.

                  Even though I've seen every regeneration of the doctor in the past tense,this is the first time I've seen a regeneration occur right as it was happening. I've seen a lot of Whovians say you always remember your first. Steven Moffat's 11th (or is it 12th?) doctor episodes have tended to follow story arcs throughout each series. This story showcases that the entire 11th doctor's journey was in fact one long arc that this story covers in the typically epic manner of his era of the show. The Daleks have emerged as a possible adversary,the Papal Mainframe plot line wonderfully showcases the potentially corrupting influence some religions can have bring this story even further into life. We also see the doctor sacrificing many centuries of what he believes is his final regeneration-just to self sacrifice himself for the people in the winter town of Christmas-literally walking on his own grave. Since its been presented this year that Christmas represents extreme changes to many people despite my personal reservations,this story bought home (in more ways than one) the possibilities that lay in positive changes. And the people who remember us. Farewell to Matt Smith in Doctor Who after the fall of the eleventh!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Doctor Who: A Christmas Carol

                          On a human colony in the distant future,a starliner with 4000 passengers  is about to be torn about by a massive clouds disturbance over a planet. On the surface,the sister of an ill lady in cryogenic freeze pleads for her sisters health from Kazran Sardick,the man whose father had full control of the planets weather. Amy,who is on board the liner since the doctor is unable to use the TARDIS to prevent its crash due to the electrical disturbances,the doctor emerges from Sardick's chimney to convince him to use the isomorphic controls,linked to his own mind to stop the meteorological disturbances. As the family of the cryogenically frozen lady are about to go,one of the younger boys in the family's family pleas are nearly met by Kazran hitting him-from which the doctor assertains a possible reason for Kazran's disposition.

                       Contriving on the Dickensian Christmas parable,the doctor utilizes an old film he discovered,projected behind the TARDIS to show Kazran his childhood at the hands of his domineering and joyless father-even going back in time masquerading as a new sitter for the young Kazran. As the elder Kazran watches,the doctor attempts to reshape his history while also looking into the mystery of fish flying through pure air vapor,through the fog. This turns out to be the result unusual properties in the air itself. The doctor and Kazran are set about by a shark that eats half of the doctors screwdriver-leaving the other half signaling a homing beacon. Kazran leads the doctor to a cryogenic device where Kazran reveals his father Elliot has been keeping humans frozen as a form of collateral investment.

                        After being set upon by the shark again,it is again calmed by the singing of the woman the doctor saw frozen earlier,whose name is Abigail. For many Christmases to come,the doctor returns at Christmas to take Abigail and Kazran on a journey to a new place in space and time-all the way up through Kazran's adulthood. He even allows Abigail to spend Christmas with her sisters family who are deprived due to the cruel deprivations bought about by Kazran's miserly father.During a visit to Hollywood, Abigail is forced to bid Kazran a tearful farewell. Kazran decides he wants a break from the doctors visits to work with his father. The doctor gives him his sonic screwdriver and tells Kazran to contact him if he needs to. 

                   When he meets with Kazran again,as the liner is continuing its descend. Kazran is no doubly disenchanted that the doctor filled his past with new memories. He informs the doctor that,having fallen in love with Abigail on their journeys,he learned she had to return to stasis as her illness would terminate her life after only one day of being unfrozen. The doctor convinces Kazran by bringing his younger self to see the bitter man he'd become. Upon embracing his younger self,Kazran finds himself unable to deactivate the isomorphic weather controls due to his altered memories. So the doctor uses his sonic screwdriver half to create a link with the half still within the belly of the shark,who is awoken by the song of the unthawed Abigail,resonated the atmosphere and allowed the liner to land safely with no fatalities. The doctor takes the newly married Amy and Rory on their honeymoon with Kazran and Abigail have their final day together.

                 This first of the 11th doctor era's Christmas stories is an excellent and often thought provoking one-spinning the old (and so often cliched) Dickensian Scrooge parable around a bit by using the device of the doctor to who the Scrooge-like character of Kazran the error of his ways-not by dreams but by genuine time travel-allowing him to see himself through his own eyes. Integrated into the story are more contemporary barriers to the happiness of the Christmas holiday or anytime-such as the problems of healthcare in relation to terminal interest and the very quality that is driving Kazran's cynicism about humanity: the issue of child abuse at the hands of his father Elliot. Its an excellent Christmas tale from Doctor Who featuring love,whimsical flying fish and a thought provoking message that is very apropos to the 21st century and many of it's problems and need for joy. 


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Doctor Who-Arc Of Infinity

                    While two young men named Stuart and Colin are staying overnight in an ancient crypt after hitchhiking to Amsterdam to visit Colin's cousin in lieu of their reserved room at a local youth hostel, an unknown entity is commissioning one of the time lords for the biological information on the doctor from the Matrix of Galifrey. Meanwhile,just as the doctor is re-adjusting the TARDIS's gunfire proof grace system,he and Nyssa find the TARDIS overcome by a massive extra dimensional force that slows down time within the TARDIS. The doctor is briefly overcome by the presence of an unknown life form that registers to Nyssa as antimatter based. Her research helps the doctor to understand that what they encountered was part of what time lords call the Arc Of Infinity-a powerful intersection between matter and antimatter. At this point the TARDIS's recall systems are activated abruptly and the doctor and Nyssa are whisked away along with it.

                 Once on Galifrey the doctor is shot down by one Commander Maxil,with the permission of Lord President Borusa,the doctors old friend Hedin and the council of the time lords is taken into custody due to bioscans of the doctor showing that his presence has been overcome by an entity intent on using their Matrix to converge the Arc Of Infinity and simultaneously kill billions across the universe. Despite Nyssa and ally time lords Damon and Hedin's protests,the doctor is sentenced by Borusa and Maxil to termination. While Nyssa and Damon's research into the matter indicate the bioscans were forged by someone within the high council,the doctor is swiftly terminated. He then finds his consciousness locked within the matrix-conferring face to face with the unknown life form that took over his body and has suspended his mind and body between the termination chamber and the Matrix.

                    Back in Amsterdam,Stuart and Colin's overnight in the crypt is interrupted when Colin begins constructing some unknown device,doesn't recognize Stuart and disappears. He then goes to the hostel where they were to have stayed. He then intercepts Colin's cousin at the airport,who turns out to be Tegan. She has come to visit her vagabond cousin to cheer herself up after losing her job with Heathrow. She finds herself involved now in the mystery of his disappearance in one not so ordinary crypt. When she and Stuart arrive at the sight of the disappearance,they find an unusual bird like creature their to greet them. The creature promptly transports Tegan and Stewart to the TARDIS of the unknown alien-who promptly uses the mental essence of Tegan in order to manipulate the doctor,still believed by his own people to have died,into doing what he wishes.

                 After asking the doctors seemingly only ally on the high council,Hedin for assistance he allows her and Demon access to the TARDIS to restore its activation unit Maxil had removed just prior to the doctors termination. Via further investigation they discover the fact that the doctor is still alive and trapped within the Matrix. The Castellan meanwhile is convinced,though Nyssa and Damon are able to prove without doubt that the doctors bioscans were faked that he was involved in a conspiracy with someone within the high council. The doctor being let go from the Matrix into his own body,his final encounter with Tegan reveals the location of their unknown adversary. The doctor manages to reunite with Nyssa,Demon,Borusa,Castellan and Hedin-who to his surprise is the time lord who'd framed the doctor as a way of re-animating Omega,the unknown creature who'd merged his bio energy with the doctors so he could live among the time lords.

               While Hedin is killed during the ensuing struggle the doctor journeys with Nyssa in the TARDIS to Amsterdam to find Tegan and Colin,whom Omega has now released from his control. Though with Demon's help they've found a way to halt Omega's reanimation  process,Omega has assumed a humanoid form identical to the doctors. He escapes into the city of Amsterdam just as the doctor and Nyssa arrive. After getting directions from the hostel Colin was to have been staying at before Omega began manipulating him to construct his matter converting fusion device,built in Amsterdam because it was at sea level the doctor,Nyssa and Tegan give chase until they finally encounter Omega-who is now beginning to necrotize due the instability of his matter conversion process. Knowing that Omega's continued life would destabilize the universe,the doctor gives him the narrow choice of dying where he is or being taken back to Galifey as energy. Omega seems to fade into oblivion,after which Tegan and Nyssa invite the now unemployed and eager Tegan to re-join them as her cousin recovers.

                One of the things about the complex and wonderfully realized story I realized is that,as with The Brain Of Morbius I'd actually seen at least the first part of this serial when I was a preteen. I was tuned into that due to the conversation between Nyssa and the doctor about the convergence of matter and antimatter. This story basically asks the question between physical existence and non existence,and the character of Omega who is such a survivalist he risks both the physical and societal stability of his own people to achieve his goals. Of course this is most famously future sixth doctor Colin Baker's very first appearance in Doctor Who as the bureaucratic Commander Maxil,who infamously shoots the doctor in the cliffhanger of the first part of the serial. The special effects are used here to produce from reality bending effects such as a physically warped doctor floating inside a light beam Matrix of thought. Overall this is one of the most thematically complex and visually stunning encounters with the time lords and the doctor in the classic Doctor Who series and as such is not all that bad an entry point for those who've never seen Doctor Who even.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Doctor Who-Time Flight

                         Concord flight 192 Victor Foxtrot out of Heathrow airport mysteriously disappears off of airport radar. On board the TARDIS the doctor plans to take Tegan and Nyssa,still mourning the death of Adric to the 1851 London Exposition when the TARDIS buckles and accidentally materializes directly over the runaway of Heathrow immediately after the disappearance of Victor Foxtrot. Landing in the airport terminal,the doctor is at first suspected of being responsible for the missing airplane. Upon submitting his UNIT credentials to the airport officials,he then proposes to one Captain Stapley that he take the TARDIS aboard another Concord to search for Victor Foxtrot,which he believes was caught up in in a time warp that caused the TARDIS to fly off course to begin with.

                   The plane believes itself to have landed back at Heathrow,but its all an illusion-the real Heathrow perceives Stapley's plane as too going off the radar. Nyssa is the first to notice what the doctor convinces Stapley and his crew by seeing a glimpse of dead bodies: their surroundings are a telepathic projection. Their actual surroundings is a desolate Jurassic period ice age Earth with a crashed spaceship. While viewing a mysterious citadel in the back round Nyssa,Tegan and Stapley find the doctor absorbed briefly by what the doctor soon reveals to be Plasmatons-manifestations of strong biophysical energy emanating from a given source. At that point they spot the crew of Victor Foxtrot hauling away the TARDIS,apparently believing they are on a standard flight while the doctor and his companions follow suit.

                     Along the way the encounter hypnotist Professor Hayter,the lone passenger on Foxtrot who is aware what he is seeing is an illusion. Though uncertain of the doctors identity,he elects to join them. They arrive at the citadel,overcoming one series of illusions after the other when Nyssa falls ill before arrival-apparently overcome by another life form taking over her mind. The doctor leaves Tegan to look after her as the doctor and Stapley proceed to find an unusual alien calling himself the Kalid within,who is using the crew of Victor Foxtrot to commandeer the doctors TARDIS using advanced telepathic suggestion. When Hayter notices along with the doctor Kalids device is made from spare TARDIS parts the Kalid reveals himself as the Master,locked on ice age Earth after a failed escape attempt from Castrovalva.

                        The Master has located a central power source in the Citadel,that both Nyssa and Tegan have by this time arrived at and are unable to penetrate,to power up his TARDIS and return to his time. He attempts to brainwash Stapley and his crew mates the same as he had Foxtrots crew to facilitate his needs,though Stapley is able to recover in time to do some makeshift work of his own on the TARDIS before the Master escapes to his own TARDIS with time controls from the doctors. The doctor and Hayter arrive with Nyssa and Tegan at the central power source,which he recognizes as belonging to a war torn race called the Xeraphin,who had processed their physical bodies into plasmonic energy to be stored there. When Hayter attempts to access that knowledge,his body is similarly processed as two conflicted Xeraphin-one wishing to work with the doctor and the other for the Master,end up in conflict.

                     Realizing it was the Xeraphin who possessed Nyssa to begin with,and their plasmonic energy source would give the Master a nearly exhaustible level of power,the doctor pulls a switch on the Master as Stapley,his crew and Tegan plunder the functional parts of Foxtrot to repair their own plain-even after the Master attempts to materialize his TARDIS around it. With the original crew of Foxtrot long out of the Master's control,the doctor makes the switch and returns-inside the TARDIS,with Stapley on their plane back through the time warp to Heathrow safely-luckily materializing a few moments before the Masters TARDIS is blow into oblivion by the dual presence of both TARDIS's in the same dimension. As the doctor bids Stapley and his crew goodbye,Tegan elects-at least for the time being,to resume her position as a flight attendant at Heathrow as she originally planned.

                          Though not ranking very high among many Doctor Who admirers,this is actually a very compelling story blending the idea of one of the numerous and mysterious airplane disappearances of the late 20th century with the concept of time travel. Of course the Masters deception is at the heart of the matter-even inventing his own character disguised as the mystic Kalid. Stapley makes a more than effective one off companion,learning quickly about the TARDIS and even saving the doctors nose on more than one occasion. Nyssa's psychic vulnerability to the Xeraphin consciousness points to advanced mental equity that was not fully hinted at again during her time in Doctor Who,and helps guide the doctors and his companions in their mission. My own interpretation of Tegan's reasons for staying on Earth for a time might have to do with her feelings over Adric's death. But in the end this is a compelling and scientifically sweeping story.



Friday, December 6, 2013

Doctor Who-Earthshock

                          On Earth in the year 2526,a mining expedition led by Professor Kyle and a Lieutenant Scott are using advance thermal equipment to search for missing members of their team. On board the TARDIS meanwhile Adric declares to the doctor that he is unappreciated by the doctor,Tegan and Nyssa alike. And that he had calculated a way back to E-Space where he wishes to return. The ensuing argument leads the doctor to take the TARDIS to the underground caverns of the mining expedition. When walking within the caverns the doctor,Tegan and Nyssa find a massive amount of dinosaur remains within it-as well as natural sulphurated lighting.  Of course the presence of the two hearted time lord with his companions into their mining setup lead Scott and Kyle to believe they are responsible for the missing miners.
                        Before the doctor can debate the innocence of him and his companions with the expedition,a trio of Faceless androids launch an all out attack on the miners-unknowingly being used by a Cybermen vessel to specifically track down the doctor. While hiding from the androids,the doctor locates a metal door which the androids seem to be deliberately avoiding. While Scott and his offers continue their fire at the androids,the doctor manages to breach the door and inside finds a bomb that is set for a swift detonation-one powerful enough to destroy the Earth from the inside out. The doctor manages,with the help of Adric's calculations to disarm the device. Upon return to the TARDIS with a now grateful Scot and Kyle and mending the fence with Adric,the doctor informs all of them that the bomb in the caverns was sending a signal to Sector 16 and he intended to investigate the situation further-after which Kyle and Scott insist on joining in gratitude.

                   In that sector,a freighter on route to Earth to make its delivery detects an unexpected disruption in the neighboring sector that indicates a possible delay in their delivery. When the doctor's TARDIS appears, the   freighter's security chief Ringway finds two crew members murdered with the doctor and Adric investigating. While planning to execute them, freighter captain Briggs insist they be bought to the bridge-where he disbelieves the doctor that he and Adric had not killed her two crew members. Impatient for the doctor and Adric's delay,Scott leads Tegan and some of his officers in entering the freighter on the offensive. As the doctor is fending off a near mutiny between the crew and Briggs over her seeming inability to trust the doctor,the freighters internal sensors indicate the true source of the murders and the disruption: the same Cybermen Tegan and Scott have encountered. Using a flux of the ships antimatter power source to trap one of the Cybermen in the entrance to the bridge,the Cybermen reveal their plan to the doctor.

                 The Cybermen plan to re-inhabit the Earth after accelerating the freighters at warp drive so the freighter will become a bomb that will crash into the Earth-destroying a multi national Earth conference whose result would be a massive united army the Cybermen couldn't overpower. The Cybermen on board,upon noticing the doctor's protective instincts to save Tegan elect to keep Briggs and her crew aboard to observe their reactions. The doctor evacuates Scott and Tegan back to the TARDIS as they face off Cybermen attempting to invade it's systems following Tegan attempting an emergency launch. Adric shrugs off the Briggs offer to join her,Scott's expedition and the freighters crew in an escape pod as the TARDIS gives chase-believing he can stop the ship through his own calculations. Meanwhile the warp device the Cybermen install sends the freighter backward in time 60 million years-still on course to Earth and just in time to become the source of destruction for the dinosaurs. After using the gold star Adric gave the doctor to disrupt the Cybermen's circuits to buy time the TARDIS attempts to pursue to kamikaze freighter to rescue Adric but they are too late. Adric is destroyed along with the freighter before a shocked doctor,Tegan and Nyssa.

                  One of the main themes of this story ends up being what I've heard referred to as a pre-destination time paradox. While Adric's surprisingly self sacrificing death did halt the Cybermen's plans to destroy Earth in the future,it resulted in the destruction of the highly successful dinosaur race whose extinction was part of Tegan's own history. Seeing as they hadn't been on Doctor Who for nearly a decade at this point,another important element of this story was that non of the characters outside the doctor had any awareness of the Cybermen. Professor Kyle's expedition were so intent on finding their lost mates,and Captain Brigg's freighter crew were so internally quarrelsome they both suspected the doctor and his equally unknowing companions of their missing/murdered crew before learning to trust him. These complexities are lost on the Cybermen,who only view emotions as a weakness to be exploited. That plus the surprisingly gripping sacrifice of Adric make this one of Doctor Who's most meaningful action stories that views the intensity of emotion from the Cybermen's outsider perspective.


Thursday, December 5, 2013

Doctor Who-The Visitation

                         Attempting to return Tegan to her original location of Heathrow airport shortly after she was set to arrive,the TARDIS finds itself in mid 17th century England in the same location to find the smell of gunpowder smoke in the air. They are soon set upon by a man addressing himself as a Richard Mace-an actor turned highwayman following an enormous display of shooting stars preceded a plague in the area that has killed hundreds. When Nyssa locates alien power packs in the vicinity,the doctor and his companions,Mace included journey to the nearby home of the Miller where Mace intends to intact his latest heist. When inside the Millers after his departure,they all find his home deserted-along with the smell of Soliton gas around him-something that clearly does not belong in 1666. 

                    Following with his sonic screwdriver to its source he locates a holographically hidden door,behind which is located alien a caged rates and a winery. The doctor and his companions are set upon by an android disguised as the Grim Reaper,who while frightening Mace and capturing Tegan and Adric help the doctor and Nyssa to realize for sure that the shooting stars seen before the beginning of the plague are surely extra terrestrial in origin. The doctor recognizes the android as belonging to a species known as the Terireptiles. Of course the green skinned amphibian like Terireptile's,at least one of them is demanding Tegan and Adric give him information on the TARDIS and the doctors sonic device. 

               While Tegan is taken away the doctor,Nyssa and Mace travel to what turns out to be a Terireptile escape pod. Adric is let go and is sent by the doctor with Nyssa back to the TARDIS to build a sonic disrupting device to counter the effects of the Terripetiles android lackey. After pointing out to Mace that the pendant he found is actually a Terireptile mind control bracelet,the doctor and Mace attempt to speak to the Miller,who doesn't acknowledge them but the mind controlled villagers soon set upon the doctor and Mace. They are rescued by the Miller who takes them alive to the Terireptile who,as it turns out is not only controlling Tegan with the same bracelet used to control the villagers but is one of four Terereptile prisoners who escaped mistreatment when their ship crashed on Earth.

              Unable to travel to another world,the doctor offers the Terireptile a chance to either return home or to an uninhabited world with him. The Terireptile,an intelligent but imperial race,intend to unleash a systematically lethal plague to destroy all human life so they can colonize the Earth.  Upon resisting,the doctor and Mace are imprisoned. While Mace is controlled by the bracelet same as Tegan,the doctor attempts to engineer an escape-after which the Terireptile destroys his sonic screwdriver. While Adric attempts to set off on his own from Nyssa to fight off the controlled villagers,Nyssa is successful at building and setting off the sonic device and destroying the android. Once back inside the TARDIS with an amazed Richard mace,the doctor localizes the Terireptile base in London. 

               Arriving to the Terireptile feigning surrender inside a bakery where Miller is delivering the devices intended to distribute the plague into the many rats in London,the bakery is accidentally set on fire to the bakery. Unable to save the itinerant Terireptiles as intended,the doctor and his companions are able to make an escape. Richard Mace is invited by the doctor to join him in the TARDIS,but declines due to the fast paced nature of what he's experienced and elects to stay behind to help put out the fire. While Nyssa ponders the logic behind the doctor leaving a Terireptile device with Mace as a memento he reveals to her,Tegan and Adric that the  burning bakery they just escaped was the Thomas Ferriner's Bakery on Pudding Lane. And they had inadvertently started the Great Fire Of London.

               Throughout this story,time and history are the most important points. The doctor's presence in 17th century England is just as interwoven into the fabric of human history as the Terireptiles: with the former causing the Great Fire Of London and the latter causing the great plague. Only Richard Mace,a companion who only followed the doctor due to his own opportunism and cowardice in the beginning,was aware of the significance of these events. Aware that the locals around them view the extra terrestrial events in only a supernatural context,the Terireptiles are thoroughly unimpressed by the doctors urgent pleas not to destroy humanity for their own benefit. 

                 Of course history is made here for Doctor Who itself,as the sonic screwdriver is destroyed-never appearing again for the rest of the classic series run on BBC due to writers feeling it was too easy a plot device. Overall a wonderful serial in which each companion in the "crowded TARDIS" got their own vital function in assisting the doctor-in particular the often underused Nyssa. Michael Robbin's terrific blend of dramatic hubris and superstition in his characterization of Richard Mace made him a companion,while I personally wish had been a different case,whom we'd never see again in Doctor Who on TV. A fine addition to Doctor Who's consistent 19th series.