Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Doctor Who Confidential-The Fourth Series,Starring David Tennant And Catherine Tate

                                  After watching the fourth series of Doctor Who in full from beginning to end, I was truck with the idea of discussing the season at large. Yet Doctor Who Confidential,a behind the scenes program that began with the first series of the relaunch,does it far better than I ever could. The series was cancelled during the programs sixth series due to budget realities on the BBC,much to the dismay even of the actor portraying the current doctor Matt Smith. So I am presenting some of the original Doctor Who Confidential episodes from this series here. This is not intended to infringe on the show. Support Doctor Who on the BBC on television and by checking out the DVD releases when available.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Doctor Who-Journey's End

                          As the doctor regenerates,a container holding a disembodied hand of the doctor absorbs all of the regenerative powers to only heal him rather than change his appearance. Sarah Jane Smith,about to be killed by invading Daleks,is saved by Micky and Jackie Tyler stepping out of their alternate universe. Since the impending collapse of the universe is connecting to what Davros and the Daleks are doing in the Medusa Cascade the doctor,Donna,Rose and Jack transport into the Cruscible,the planet sized headquarters for the new Dalek army's entire operation. While networking with Martha and UNIT on Earth,Davros holds the doctor and Rose prisoner in a force field while he locks Donna into the TARDIS and threatens her and the TARDIS's complete destruction in the Earth's core if the doctor doesn't cooperate with him. Meanwhile Micky,Jackie and Sarah Jane surrender to the Daleks and are ushered in with all the other human beings taken prisoner. Sarah Jane allows the pair to use a transporter device of her own to escape while she remains to search for the doctor. They all successfully break through as Davros and Dalek Caan,the seemingly demented and damaged Dalek prophesier announce their plans to use this 28 planet arrangement to create the energy for a reality bomb that will destroy all living matter in the material universe-making Daleks the only surviving lifeforms.

                Meanwhile as Donna sinks into the Earth's core,her hand inadvertently touches on the container and the regenerative energy from the doctors hand merges with her to create a human replica of the doctor,with many of her character traits that he explains to her as a merging of their two natures-that he know has part of her body and mind within him. By the time they return to the Crucible to confront Davros,Martha has taken the special Osterhagen key given to her by UNIT with her to Germany. As she tells the doctor,it was designed to set off multiple atomic detonations in the Earth's core to destroy the planet in an instant in the event of a catastrophic emergency. When Donna reappears with the alternate doctor Davros fires a disrupter at her as the doctor and proceeds to active the reality bomb. Just before the countdown was completed, it is stopped by Donna who had apparently gained the time lords intellectual experience as well during the merging. The original doctor recognizes the synergy of events since he's met Donna,all the odd coincidences were to culminate in this "Doctor Donna" hybrid. Using the magnatron device devised by his alternate self he is able to destroy the new Dalek fleet and possibly Davros along with it.

                While "Doctor Donna" was able to transfer 27 of the planets back to their original locations due to her blend of human and time lord instincts,Earth remains in place. It takes the talents of Donna,Sarah Jane Smith,Micky,Jack and Rose to pilot the TARDIS-apparently originally meant to be piloted by six people,to help the doctor use it to drag Earth back across time and space to its proper location within the universe. With Earth returned to its proper position the doctor returns Sarah Jane,Micky and Martha back to begin their lives again on Earth. Before returning to the TARDIS with Donna,he drops off Rose and Jackie in Bad Wolf Beach in the parallel universe they were in before with his alternate self-who he believes embodies his inner violence and torment,to be with Rose whom both doctors have a romantic interest in but,being human Rose can be with on her terms. When arriving inside the TARDIS, he recognizes from Donna's stuttering mental reactions that she cannot handle the merging of time lord knowledge with her own. And in the most difficult decision he has made,is forced to use his telepathic abilities to reverse every memory Donna ever had of the doctor. She returns Donna,with no memory of her encounters with him to Sylvia and Wilf-asking them both never to discuss any knowledge of him to her before he sadly departs.

                 Stringing three seasons worth of companions,even the stalwart K-9 in a cameo for good measure,was likely a challenging task for Russell T Davies when producing this show. And true to be said this hour long presentation is filled with fast paced "techno babble" (a regrettably fitting enough term I still dislike using due to its seeming celebration of ignorance) and abundance of interwoven story lines. It is not so much an epic television show but has a similar flavor to a film production. On the other hand this is likely the most sad and deeply effecting Doctor Who stories I've ever seen. Davros brings a conundrum to the doctors minds: despite his own personal non violence, he has many companions on Earth for example who will do such dirty work for him if the need arises. This leads not only to the doctors decision to leave his more human self with Rose in a parallel  reality,but in the culmination of this story. From The Runaway Bride through the entire fourth series Donna Noble had developed more strongly than any companion since the seventh doctor's Ace,while still referring to herself as the "nothing temp from Chiswick". In one shinning moment as the doctor points out,her humanity merging with his intellect allowed her to save Earth from the seemingly impossible to defeat new Dalek empire. And how would any human being whose journey to full intellectual enlightenment had to be robbed from them forever to save their lives? It is not so much Donna,sadly returned to a menial life on Earth with no memory of what she'd done,who suffers most. But the doctor,who again was forced into a position of baring  the sacrifice of another in a fate worse than death itself.

Doctor Who-The Stolen Earth

                         The doctor and Donna stop back on Earth after their encounter on Shan Shen,where the doctor is concerned about the reappearance of Bad Wolf,knowing of course that Rose is looking for him. When he returns to the TARDIS after believing Earth is fine,the TARDIS is hit with a massive shock wave. When he opens the door he and Donna find the Earth has disappeared without a trace. Only knowing one option,the doctor and Donna head for the Shadow Proclamation for help. And there they discover Earth,along with 27 other planets have somehow been moved to the Medusa Cascade. The people of Earth-including Martha Jones and UNIT,Sylvia and Wilf,Sarah Jane Smith and Luke along with Jack Harckness and Torchwood are all confused by the sudden appearance of 27 new planets in Earth orbit. The doctor meanwhile learns in the Shadow proclamation that the Earth is under attack,which they are quickly enduring by his ancient enemy-the Daleks. Realizing the gravity of the situation, Martha Jones-now working for the top secret Project Indigo activates it,actually a Sontaran teleportation device.Meanwhile the doctor returns to the Medusa Cascade to find nothing there. 

              But all is not lost. Disbared Prime Minister Harriet Jones has found a way to link to Sarah Jane,Torchwood and even Martha over a technology called subwave radio,which the Daleks (who humans have now surrender to) cannot read through. Rose is also now in the fray,appearing with a weapon that can destroy Daleks and saving Wilf's life in the process. Of course because Sylvia has no webcam Rose cannot network with the team who,at Harriet's suggestion,has developed a system to allow every phone on Earth to send an enormous tracing signal to the doctor. When he receives it,he realizes the Daleks have set these planets out of sync one second with the rest of the universe. Now part of Harriet's link up, she sacrifices herself to the Daleks. The call is interrupted by Davros,who didn't die as thought during the time war but has created an even more powerful Dalek army from the cells of his own body. When the doctor arrives on Earth and is running to meet Rose,a Dalek exterminates him and forces a shock regeneration.

               This is a story that tries to bridge all of the events of the previous four series of the relaunched Doctor Who into a two part story,of which this is the first. Its an extremely fast paced,busy story on which volumes could be written about every little detail. Even so its still nice to see the late Elizabeth Sladen,Billie Piper,Freema Agyeman and John Barrowman all working together to help the doctor and Donna in their important mission. In this story the Daleks are particularly hostile towards the human race. The ninth doctor,portrayed by Christopher Eccleston referred to them in the episode Dalek as "the ultimate in racial cleansing". And in this episode that is exactly how they behave-rather more like fascist shock troops with a specific personal agenda rather than emotionless constructs. They are very concerned with obedience-even destroying an innocent family resisting them in front of hundreds of people. Donna Noble even gets a cryptic message of a terrible fate that awaits her from the Shadow Proclamation. And we're left to wonder if the doctor will regenerate or not.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Doctor Who-Turn Left

                         While visiting a Chinatown-like community on the planet Shan Shen, Donna indulges herself in a visit to an oddly persistent fortune teller who continually asks her about her past,how she met the doctor and what she was about to do on the events up to her wedding day before everything was put into motion. Unaware that an alien insect like creature is on her back,Donna recollects her road trip to two separate job interviews with her mother Sylvia. At the urging of the fortune teller,she decides to take her mothers advice to take a right turn instead of the left. Never having met her fiancee or attended the Christmas party where she first encountered the doctor,history changes around her. The doctor is killed during his encounter with the Racnoss and a whole section of London is destroyed. Then the Spaceship Titanic crashes into Buckingham Palace-prompting a massive atomic detonation that destroys London and makes most of Europe uninhabitable. America's attempts to render aid are hampered by the Adipose killing off millions of its own citizens. Meanwhile Sarah Jane Smith,her adopted companions as well as Martha Jones all day.

                      Donna,Sylvia and Wilf are forced to live with an Italian family as refugee's of London's destruction. Donna meanwhile continually encounter Rose Tyler,who will not tell Donna her name but tells her that she like Donna once traveled with the doctor,and that it was his presence that saved the Earth from these disasters. She tells Donna the only way to save her world,even as all the stars in the sky begin blinking out. The catch is if Donna goes,she is going to die. Rose takes her to UNIT headquarters where they have constructed a rudimentary time machine based on the TARDIS which was found floating in the Thames. Donna is shown the creature on her back through a series of mirrors. Its an unknown alien that feeds on time. And in order to set events right,Donna must return to the last few moments before Donna and her mother made that right turn. Once there,Donna gets run over by a truck-forcing her past self to take the correct turn. The dying Donna whispers two words to her counterpart who then appears back in the fortune tellers shop where the teller herself runs from Donna,noting she is too powerful. After the doctor examines the remains of the creature that redirected Donna's life,she tells him the words her alternate self whispered to her-which he then sees everywhere around him: bad wolf.

                      It would seem this story was a budget motivated companion based story in lieu of the big season finale for this series of the show. The doctor appears for nearly a total of a two minutes in this story-which focuses on an alternative history tale about Donna and her family. We realize that Donna's main motivation for travelling with the doctor is her low self esteem-fostered by her tormented and overbearing mother Sylvia. In a state of almost pacified resignation Donna watches a London vaporizes in a mushroom cloud and,in one of the saddest scenes in the episode her families jovial host Rocco and his weeping family being hauled away to a concentration camp after radiation wrecks havoc across Europe. The alien that attempts to consume time through Donna's memories is something that appears to be known to the doctor. But on the other hand represents an intense threat to him that even he doesn't seem to realize. The fact that Martha Jones and Sarah Jane Smith are key points in this alternate history as well-along with Jack Harckness's Torchwood  gives credence to the fact Rose points out that the doctor needs to help with the issue of the stars disappearing. And it is an event that points to something that would begin to occur on another occasion even for the doctor and Donna.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Doctor Who-Midnight

                     The doctor and Donna visit the planet Midnight,consisting of massive diamond structures bombarded by the massive amounts of extonic radiation from it's sun. Donna wishes to stay behind at the Leisure Palace while the doctor goes on a Crusader truck tour to visit Sapphire waterfalls.  In the truck itself he uses his sonic screwdriver to stop the entertainment barrage the hostess has used on the crew so he can talk to them. He meets the Cane family Val and Biff and their adolescent son Jethro,to whom they are very disrespectful. There's also Dee Dee Blasco,an enthusiastic students from a family of mechanics. And then there is  Professor Hobbs-who has taken the trip many times to study the planet. Mid voyage the truck abruptly stops. Its apparently never done this before. The hostess attempts to pretend nothing is happening until the power goes out and there's the sound of someone knocking on the door outside,even when their can't be.

                    Using his sonic paper,the doctor convinces the trucks drivers to issue a distress call. Soon after somehow,the cockpit and them with it. Another passenger,revealed to be named Sky Silvestry She panics and claims something is coming for her. When the power comes back on, Sky is in a catatonic state. She begins repeating every word the passengers say. All of them begin panicking intensely. They all begin to chide the doctor for being mysterious and believe that that he should be thrown out into the extonic light of the surface along with whatever life form is inhabiting Sky. The doctor is formed to actually face up to this life form face to face in order to prove his good will to the frightened passengers. Realizing whatever is inhabiting Sky is learning by cognitive conversation,the unknown life form steals the doctors voice from him. She plays on the paranoia of the crew in order to get them to throw him out of the truck. Realizing nearly too late that Dee Dee's observation of the truth is correct, the hostess sacrifices herself to ride the crew of the unknown life form within Sky before the rescue truck arrives. When the doctor returns to Donna,he cannot bare her repeating back anything he says.

             This intensely dramatic thriller story presents the doctor with all of the things that he actually fears. He is simply not in control of anything that is happening around him. The life form affecting the ship is unknown to him. The passengers paranoia and questioning of his identity is overwhelming even for him. As a result he misses a few interesting cues. For one,Sky's insistence that something is after her-as if she knew all along. And the image we the viewer (but never the doctor) see on the screen of the truck of Rose Tyler voicelessly trying to communicate with him from beyond the universe itself.  In the end,the doctor loses total control to an unknown life form that a human being,not himself, had to defeat at the cost of her own (and non-regeneratable) life. David Troughton appears in his second time in the series since 1972's The Curse Of Peladon as Professor Hobbs-an overconfident character but one who attempts to see reason-even as the usually cool mannered doctor is frazzled by.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Doctor Who-Forest Of The Dead

                          Donna Noble finds herself in a hospital looked after by a man named Doctor Moon. In a whirlwind she finds herself married and with children. Though she doesn't know what is transpiring around her. Meanwhile she receives a note from a black clad,dusky visitor telling her to met them in a nearby park. Meanwhile inside the library,the doctor and the surviving archaeologists struggle to figure out exactly what is going on   when one of them named Anita finds herself with two shadows-forcing the doctor to put up the shielding to keep away the remaining Vashtra Nerada. When Dave's corpse arrives to confront them,the doctor reminds them they can communicate with him through the neural interface inside the suit that holds in the memory patterns of those wearing it. It is when this is successful that they reveal that,while forest dwellers on their world,they've come to see the library as their forest,their hunting ground and they inhabit the pages of all the books stored them. That is when the doctor comes to a vital conclusion about what has happened at the Library. The dusky figure,by showing Donna how all the children in her new world look exactly alive, that it is not real. She is in fact the physically mutated-restored unlike Donna in an incomplete fashion,of Evangelista-who has gained only great intellect by what has actually happened. The explosion that bought the Vashta Nerada to the library created a catastrophe that reacted as any computer would in a time of danger: stored the population and anyone else in danger from the Vashta Nerada's invasion as date patterns within its massive hard drive. 

              Donna,extremely protective of the new family she'd always desired,is as equally frightened of the red sky that is appearing as the doctor is attempting to restore the hard drive to normal and restore the lives of all the stores library patrons. Yet in this stored world and the real one the word CAL continues to come up. When the doctor and the team arrive at the date core of the library,the find the face of the little girl he'd seen on the viewer earlier. Apparently CAL stands for Charlotte Abigail Lux,the youngest aunt of Dr.Lux,who died young and whose mind was left as the guardian of the library out of her love of books. Yet someone will ave to enter into the data bank itself to stop the Vashta Nerada from using the surviving patrons as bait and give it extra energy to continue. The doctor volunteers but River Song knocks him out volunteering herself-claiming he cannot die,but she must because he already knew her fate when last she saw him. She is successful and all of the library patrons,including Donna are restored. Before departing the doctor realizes River stored herself in her own sonic screwdriver to be implanted into the data core-where upon arrival she reunites with the deceased members of her archaeological team and three children of her own.

                Of all the tenth doctor stories,this and its predecessor very much follows the similar epic time/space tale that would manifest itself in The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang story line for the 11th doctor some years after this.  It interestingly enough presents a possible theory for the afterlife-a more optimistically toned take on the idea that Hollywood had already introduced by this time in The Matrix: the idea of people being stored as a computerized data stream and living in that alternate reality. Though here,the story is presented as one about saving lives rather than battling evil forces-that is,aside from the predatory Vashta Nerada. The doctor begins to understand more how River Song relates to him here,as she reveals in a whisper we don't hear that she knows his real name. This apparently would be known to someone who would have an extremely significant relationship to him. Which is why,after this revelation,he is forced to allow her to sacrifice herself. This contrasts with Donna's need for family relationships and children while saved in the library's hard drive as well.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Doctor Who-Silence In The Library

                          The doctor and Donna find themselves diverted into the 51'st century into what the doctor understands to be an enormous library containing every work of literature ever written in one massive planetary core. There's only one problem: there is no one inside the massive facility yet the library's computer indicates it to be heavily populated. They are greeted by these unusual kiosks containing people's faces-warning them to avoid something that casts a shadows.  This is confirmed by repeated warnings on the doctor's sonic paper-culminating in one that reads only "Hi Sweetie". The doctor and Donna are chased into one corner of the library by these over arching shadows that seem to be following them-seeming to justify the warning. Upon arriving they find a floating security camera that falls to the ground in reaction to the doctors screwdriver. When he inspects it,its reaction of being in pain indicates that it is in fact a sentient device. What the doctor cannot see see is a young girl in therapy-seeing the events in the library playing out in her mind. Before they can go further,the door opens again and the doctor and Donna are greeted by a  a team of people in spacesuits. One of them is someone who addresses herself as Professor River Song.  Dr. Song is accompanied by an archaeological team led by a man named Lux,son of the library's found,Miss Evangelista and two other team members named Dave. They are responding to the same call of distress. However something is a bit strange about River Song.  Her language makes it clear she has very close knowledge of the doctor and his procedures,yet from his point of view he has never met her before. 

            For his part the doctor has now concluded that they are all under attack by a species called the Vasta Nerada,shadow creatures that live just outside ones field of vision and consume human flesh. When trying to tap into the computer again,the doctor encounters the young girl again-only she sees him on her TV screen. Her manipulation of the remote for the TV set causes books to fly out among the team,so they decide to split up to continue their investigation. Miss Evangelista is the first to become the victim of them when investigating another part of the library. As the team,including the doctor and Donna,very sadly have to witness,her skeletal remains are "ghosting",a term used by River to describe how the green sensor device on their suits temporarily holds their memory in storage at the time of death. After this, the doctor notices one of the Dave's casting three shadows. After transporting Donna back to the TARDIS, the doctor returns to find Dave overcome by the Vasta Nerada and is himself ghosting.He on the other hand begins to give chase as the River,using her sonic device is able to activate the lights in another part of the library to reveal that Donna's face is now one of the library kiosks repeating "Donna Noble has been saved" again and again. Meanwhile the girls therapist is now telling her that the library she's been seeing is real.

            This brilliantly executed story is bought into life by the characters,the mysteries and the subtleties. The atmosphere of an unused library is substantially creep even for the knowing and wise time lord. He is equally puzzled by the arrival of the even more mysterious River Song,who knows him quite intimately somehow but he has never met her in his life as far as he knows. Yet at the same time, she has the knowledge to help her,the doctor and her team escape the fate of being consumed by the Vasta Nerada-an alien race who come off as even more fear inducing as the Weeping Angels. The lingering seen of the Doctor,River,Donna and the theological team having to witness the "ghosting" memory pattern of Miss Evangelista is one of the most sad moments in Doctor Who up to this particular point-making you aware of how much River Song has taken from the doctors sense of morality of which he at this point knows not what.  Even before the story really kicks off, the doctor and Donna are presented with a series of questions that instantly seem more important than their answers-as everything appears to connect to a young girl who the doctor only has one interaction with in this part of the story.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Doctor Who-The Unicorn And The Wasp

                          The doctor and Donna land in England in 1926 at a party hosted by the Lady  Eddison and her husband Colonel Hugh. During the introductions they are introduced to the guest of honor: Mrs. Agatha Christie herself. This is timely since the area is being menaced by a theif known as the Unicorn. When the doctor takes a look at the newspaper amid all these introductions,he notices the date is the same one where Christie disappears and is found ten days later at a far off motel with amnesia of this very day itself. One of a the guests,a professor Peach is soon found dead. The corpse leaves behind a viscous substance the doctor instantly recognizes as morphic residue. After a stone sculpture lands on and kills the servant Miss Chadrakala she makes a reference to a mysterious lost child. Agatha Christie and the doctor pair up to interview everyone at the party as to their whereabouts at the time of the murders while Donna does some investigating of her own. She locates the bedroom where the Butler Greeves tells her Lady Eddison laid ill 40 years earlier after a Maleria outbreak upon a return from India,that had been thereafter abandoned. Alone in the room Donna is set upon by a giant wasp she narrowly escapes,which leaves its enormous stinger in the wall.
Upon calling the doctor in to investigate further the doctor locates the same morphic residue on the stinger as found on the cadaver of Professor Peach. When they regroup with the dinner guests in the study,the doctor is poisoned by cyanide and instructs Donna to concoct a series of different ingredients to expel the poison from his body.  

          This inspires the doctor to add pepper,containing the insecticide piperine, to their food in order to repel the wasp,an alien Vespiform according to the doctor. After gathering the guests later,he learns that one of them is actually the Unicorn posing as a dinner guest. But more importantly,through Agatha's investigation that in India the younger Lady Eddison had become impregnated by a Vespiform taking human form-not only the cause of her Malaria but also that the valuable Firestone pendant she is wearing is a conduit for its powers. Deducing from his age and his adoption,the doctor deduces the other guest the Reverand Golightly is Eddison's illegitimate son with the alien Vespitform. He reverts to his natural form and,realizing that she is partly responsible for what has happened with Eddison reading Agatha's books before this encounter and the Firestone is a telepathic enhancer connecting her with Golightly,she pursues him in her car with Donna and the doctor following. Donna throws the Firestone into the river when the memories are reversed from Agatha to the the Vespiform and it sinks in the river,as Agatha's memories of her encounter with the doctor and Donna are erased. Upon leaving on their mission,the doctor shows Donna an Agatha Christie novel found millennia in Earth's future about their encounter-indicating her memories were not so fragile after all.

               This is a wonderfully executed comic mystery type setup that matches what might've otherwise been a 1920's era historical murder mystery send up on the line of 1982's Black Orchid into something quite a bit more compelling. Agatha Christie is depicted here as a hard working writer who hasn't valued her work much until the doctor inspires her to follow her own instincts in helping to solve the mystery developing around her. Still even she isn't prepared for the involvement of what essentially amount up to gigantic alien wasps. The characters are all highly colorful. Most humorous is during the interview process after the murder of the professor, each one of them remembers the question asked with a very thinly veiled disguised of their many hidden agendas: including pornographic literature,a homosexual affair and the identity of the Unicorn thief herself.  This is also the story where Donna actually kisses the doctor,of course within the story only the shock needed to effectively dispose of the cyanide that he was poisoned with. In the end this is an excellent murder mystery story,very much playing out like an Agatha Christie story such as Miss Marple with a science fiction twist.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Catherine Tate,Happy 45'th Birthday!!

              One of the keys to the success of a Doctor Who assistant/
companion is how complimentary their humanity is to the doctors extra terrestrial eccentricity.  From Ian and Barbara in 1963 up through medical student Martha Jones in 2007,the doctor "only took the best" in his own words-the best of everyday human beings with certain intangible not so everyday qualities such as near endless bravery and a strong sense of morality and fair play. One character was a former temp from Cheswick,who by chance appeared in the TARDIS in a wedding dress and in one bewildering moment helped the first extra terrestrial she ever met..save the planet from the second extra terrestrial she ever met. Even though she turned down the doctors initial offer to join her, she took him up on that upon their second encounter. Her name was Donna Noble. And she was played by Catherine Tate.

           It seems that Tate always fancied herself involved in the acting profession. After years of pursuing professional schooling in both drama and comedy she landed many television and theater roles before getting her own sketch comedy show on the BBC in 2004-The Catherine Tate Show. It was a phenomenal success. It was there a couple years later that she acted with David Tennant-in a memorable sketch in which Tate portrays and irritating student pestering Tennants head master character about his physical resemblance to a...certain time lord Whovians have all come to know and love. In 2007 she first appeared on the Doctor Who holiday episode The Runaway Bride. Her one off appearance was so successful that she came back for a full series with the tenth doctor on the BBC in 2008.

           At first glance Donna Noble might've appeared to be a person who was a bit too unfocused and shallow for the doctor's interest. But he noticed something about her character. As portrayed by Tate, Donna was ambitious to see the universe and all of time around it-with a wide eyed thrill for discovery and adventure matching the doctors. Her emotionalism and enormous heart also kept the doctor in check at times when he faced moral dilemmas even he wasn't able to solve himself. Because of Tate's renowned talents as a comedienne, her sassy and sometimes bawdy humor also found its way into the show: the ideal compliment to David Tennant's goofy wittiness. Personally I congratulate Tate on her fine performance as one of my personal favorite companions of present day Doctor Who and wish her and her family the happiest of birthdays for her this year.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Doctor Who-The Doctor's Daughter

                          With the doctor,Donna and Martha in a TARDIS spinning out of control, the doctor manages to stabilize it long enough to land it on the planet Messaline-where the trio are instantly met upon by armed troops and a gigantic machine removes a small layer of skin from his arm. From the door of a huge chamber in front of them, a young armed woman emerges. The doctor recognizes her as his daughter,the product of a DNA replication system that allows for generations of soldiers to be created on Messaline. And the reasoning is a war with fish like creatures called the Hath. During an ensuing battle Martha is knocked out and taken away by the Hath while the doctor and Donna are taken to a barrack to meet up with General Cobb,leader of this crew of human troopers,who promptly holds them in custody for their passivism. He claims that while they and the Hath once peacefully co-existed, they are now locked in arms against each other in search for something called The Source, an energy that the soldiers,both Hath and Human worship as a deity.  

               Meanwhile Martha saves the lives of one of the Hath,who begin to respond positively to her.  After the doctors new daughter,whom is given the name Jenny and Donna engineer an escape from Cobb's custody, the doctor meanwhile searches the soldiers computer records for evidence of additional tunnels in the colony. As they explore the tunnels,being flanked by soldiers continuing the war with the Hath,Donna notices a sequentially continual set of numbers above the door of each new area of the structure they encounter. Jenny uses her advanced abilities to break through the electronic frontier separating them from the main part of the chamber. By this time Martha and one of the Hath have discovered the same 3-D map the doctor used and found their way to a dark,inhospitable surface. Martha falls into a natural springs and is saved from death by her Hath companion,who sacrifices himself for her.

          After staving off Cobb and his troopers with Jenny's able hand,the doctor and Donna arrive at the control room of the surface area. Donna and the doctor are able to ascertain that the numbers they've been seeing are in fact dates. The temple of the Source,as it were is actually a spaceship that landed on the planet a week earlier. And the long war the troopers have been fighting has only lasted that long-while seeming longer due to their fast regeneration process,and the Hath originally just being helper robots trying to continue the original mission. While Jenny holds off Cobb's troops, the doctor and Donna find a garden area with a small terraforming device installed. Realizing the true nature of the mission when Cobb's troops arrive,Cobb shoots Jenny and appears to have murdered her. The doctor,after seeming to threaten Cobb with death himself,actually breaks the terraforming sphere-after which its natural process begins to bring the planet to life. A deeply affected doctor leaves his daughter behind to return Martha to Earth and continues on his mission with Donna,not knowing that Jenny has regenerated and taken off in an escape pod to go on a space/time mission of her own.

           Throughout this story,a lot of deep emotional areas of the doctors personality emerge. He is alternately concerned,frightened and hopeful for his newly created daughter Jenny-as most new fathers would be. Yet she is born fully grown and essentially bread as a solider,the doctor is hoping in his mind she will not self destruct due to her violent instincts she will not extinguish herself. Of course,as Jenny points out, the doctor could be interpreted as a soldier of sorts in his own right. The cycle of life and death deeply affects Martha to the point of tears when the Hath who saved her life is lost on the surface of Messaline.  The doctor is similarly moved when he believes his daughter has been killed by Cobb. Rather than killing Cobb,of course he spares his life to prove a point that their society can only survive if they discontinue killing for the sake of their imagined deity. Its the age old Doctor Who conundrum of creation science over creation myth that brings this brilliantly conceived story to life.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Doctor Who-The Poison Sky

                     Even though Sylvia is successful in breaking Wilf out of her gas filled vehicle before he asphyxiated,the poisoning gas emitted by the ATMOS vehicles is saturating the air of all major cities on Earth in a chocking pillar of smoke. With Wilf's encouragement, Donna has gone off with the doctor,who asks her to go to the TARDIS alone-which in turn is transported to the Sontaran vessel in Earth orbit. Meanwhile the news media reports urban dwellers fleeing en mass to the country side while they those remaining are instructed to stay inside. UNIT itself is trying very much in vein to stop the crisis. But the doctor continues to resist their insistence on using force in the matter. Without a proper sample of the gas in hand, UNIT feel forced to act and decide on a strategic nuclear strike against the Sontaran ship. Each time the strike is attempted,it is instantly shut down. Meanwhile Luke Rattigan tries to explain to his fellow school mates at the Academy the Sontaran's plans to place them all on another world where their intelligence will come in use. They dismiss him as insane and promptly abandon him. The doctor meanwhile tries to face down the Sontaran's by UNIT communications-pointing out that the gas goes against their strategies,having weapons that could easily destroy the planet they would'nt need a biological device. 

                    Of course he also learns their 50,000  year old war with the Rutans has been going badly.  When a sample of the gas is finally obtained using UNIT's enormous new atmospheric vessel, the doctor follows Martha to the lab where he reveals he was aware of her cloning,and of her sabotaging all attempts at a nuclear strike against the Sontarans. Transported on board the Sontaran ship himself, Rattigan learns he was only being used by the Sontarans to develop the technology needed for their plan and is dismissed to Earth,crestfallen. And the doctor has already figured out their plan when the cloned Martha dies and reveals the gas emitting from the ATMOS vehicles contains the same material used in Sontaran cloning method,and they are planning to use the planet as a hatchery to produce more warriors. The doctor is able to use an atmospheric condenser to fumigate the atmosphere of the poison gas. Of course this is after Rattigan usurps the doctors attempts to sacrifice himself to destroy the Sontaran ship-taking his own life to protect the doctors. After this Donna departs with the doctor and Martha,not intending to join them,is forced to when the TARDIS is locked and pulled away from the planet.

                  One of the main factors of this particular story is how much it points to the nobility of the doctors character. For a good half of it, he feigns complete ignorance and uncertainty that Martha is a clone attempting to facilitate the Sontaran take over of the planet-in order to stave of UNIT possibly destroying the Earth with a nuclear attack. Luke Rattigan points to the type of genius level intelligence enveloped by his own resentment at being misunderstood by other people. He hopes for a world where he and others like him will be left alone. Driven to tears when the Sontaran deception is revealed, he willingly sacrifices himself to destroy the enemies he never realize he had so the doctor,who he learns is the real hero of this affair, will continue to survive and triumph. Though Donna and Martha are both complimentary in helping the doctor in this story, though Martha is presented in her cloned form most of this part of it, Martha wishes to stay behind. Even though,as is typical with the doctor things don't quite end up as expected.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Doctor Who-The Sontaran Stratagem

                         While Donna is attempting to maneuver the TARDIS herself,the doctor receives a distress call from former companion-the now Doctor Martha Jones,now a physician for UNIT regarding the mysterious and simultaneous deaths of 52 people around the Earth. Upon arriving on Earth, the doctor and Donna meet up with Martha to find that UNIT soldiers are swarming about a factory producing a device called ATMOS (Atmospheric Omission System) that is a green friendly device used in 400,000,000 cars the world over. As does the doctor, UNIT also suspect a connection since all of the sudden deaths have taken place with people whose cars were fitted with ATMOS.  Meanwhile two UNIT guards are hypnotized by a Sontaran general named Staal when they discover a secret cloning facility.  During this investigation Donna speaks with Martha about the difficulties her family endured during her time with the doctor and decides to return to her mother and grandfather while the doctor further pursues what is occurring with ATMOS. The doctors travels take him to Rattigan Academy,a private genius university run by the young prodigy Luke Rattigan who actually helped develop the ATMOS technology. 

                 Inside Luke's laboratory the doctor finds,among other ingenious scientific discoveries, a teleporation portal that takes him on board a Sontaran vessel to meet with General Stall where their plan is revealed to destroy the people of Earth-having been excluded from the last great time war that the doctor had led. Meanwhile during her investigation, Martha is taken captive by more Sontarans and is herself unwillingly cloned in order to allow them to gain access to UNIT. After narrowly escaping death by confusing a UNIT vehicle equipped with ATMOS with UNIT solider Ross,the doctor seeks out the help of Donna at her families home. After Donna introduces the doctor to her mother Sylvia and grandpa Wilf, he attempts to examine the ATMOS device installed in Sylvia's car-the reason Donna claimed to leave the doctor behind in the first place. Upon finding it emitting a poisonous gas,Wilf locks himself in the gas filled car trying to repair the damage when the doctor realizes every ATMOS fitted car in the country experiencing the same gas emission. 

                This episode not only provides a new chance for two more doctor companions to meet, but sets a stage for a story that allows them to understand their relationship to the doctor. In contrast to Rose Tyler earlier, Donna and Martha click immediately as a female buddy team. It also provides an opportunity to do a modern UNIT story,with the organization being a far more mobilized setup than it had been in the third doctor/Jon Pertwee era. The sociopolitical commentary of this program is also an important feature as well. Luke Rattigan is depicted as a brainy but stereotypically cocky young adult-with an insecurity and need for power than keeps him from being fully aware of the scope of the Sontaran's plans to murder humanity wholesale. Of course the story is also not shy about pointing out the irony of ATMOS technology,intended as a green alternative to fossil fuel, is based on alien technology intended to kill human beings.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Doctor Who-Planet Of The Ood

                    Somewhat at random the doctor and Donna find themselves on a glacial planet that has been colonized by the fourth great human empire of the 42nd century. Along the way the doctor here's a melody in his mind that he recognizes as the song of the Ood,a telepathic species who he remembered acted as servants to the human empire. The Ood is dying and insists to the Doctor and Donna that the circle must be broken before his eyes turn a fiery red and he passes away.  The doctor and Donna come to a human colony run by Ood Industries where a human named Solana is about to make a presentation to a group of perspective clients regarding what are referred to as Ood servants. This is all taking place a midst several murders  committing by these red eyed Ood-who are believed to have gone rabid. After hearing the presentation at the conference,the doctor and Donna wander off to discover a massive warehouse where they not only discover grates filled with Ood but part of the truth about what is happening there: the human empire have begun to treat the Ood as their slaves.

                  It is at this time the doctor and Donna are found out not to be participants so Mr. Halpen and his Solana send their troops out to locate them. That forces the doctor and Donna into a imprisonment area where they find a group of un-enslaved Ood. It is at this point Donna learns that the Ood,unlike humans,have brains on the outside of their heads and this has the effect of mobilizing emotion and thought from outside sources-making them easier to control by others than other humanoids. When the pair confront Halpen about this, it becomes clear his Ood Industries have basically lobotomized the Ood by replacing this brain with a translator  But the doctor points out another missing piece of the puzzle,when Harplen takes them to a facility housing an enormous brain found under the surface of this world which they have been using to control the Ood.  As it turns out,the hair tonic Harplens Ood has been giving them is a transformative agent that has been slowly turning Harplen into an Ood-the transformation of which is complete with his full expose to the brain. With the Ood now free,their collective song is sent out to the Ood all over the universe and the doctor and Donna depart having made new friends.

                   In this story we actually discover one possible reason why the doctor might've been interested in taking on Donna as his assistant in the TARDIS. Thought at first coming off as a bit of a trivial person who hadn't been a success in life, we find out here that Donna's true gifts lay in her empathy and outwardly focused ego. Her distaste for her own people in the future again resorting to slavery to build their empire easily matches the doctors own moral convictions. And in one truly touching seen in this, Donna is moved to tears when the doctor allows her to hear the Ood's telepathic song because she cannot bear to hear their suffering.  Even though her discouragement in humanity's future almost makes her want to go back home,she rethinks her plan when she brings up the gusto to stand by her convictions to the cold and uncaring Haplen. The Ood themselves are a fascinating species. With their unique biology, they are very benevolent-even transforming their nemesis Harplen rather than killing him: the old "walk a mile in my shoes" ethic. Excellent story dealing with an important but sometimes uncomfortable moral dilemma. 


Thursday, May 2, 2013

Doctor Who-The Fires Of Pompeii

                     The doctor and Donna arrive in what they believe is ancient Rome but,upon Donna's observation they realize they are standing in Pompeii before Mount Vesuvious-only a day before it is set to erupt and destroy the town. Before they can act they discover the TARDIS has disappeared. It was sold to a man named Lucius Caecilius Lucundus and his family by the Sibylline sisterhood,who through the apparent psychic ability of Caecilius's daughter Evelina is part of a local prophecy regarding the new wonders coming to the local auger Lucius Petrus Dextrus,after which the doctor breaks in to find that Petrus has transformed stones into a series of rudimentary circuits to form a primitive energy converter. He,Donna and Caecilius's family are than accosted by a gigantic fire breathing creature when Donna is taken away by members of the sisterhood,who determine she is to be sacrificed to maintain their visions.

                 The doctor shows up to save her,at which time he asks to hold audience with the sisterhood's high priestess. He is not only confronted by the fact that she and her subjects are slowly turning to stone,the same as Petrus apparently is but that they are inhabited by the energy of a race called the Pyrovile,who fell to Earth as disintegrated stone and have been using the locals ritualistic practices to inhabit their bodies through the volcanic ash they have been consuming. Their plan is to colonize the Earth by encasing it in volcanic eruptions. They doctor can shut down the energy converter,however it reveals that this will be the cause of the volcano that destroys Pompeii and that he was in fact the cause of this fixed historical event. After Pompeii is overwelmed in volcanic ash,a crestfallen Donna begs the doctor to save at least one of them,and he returns in time to save Caecilius and his family from certain death before departing with Donna.

                This is a wonderfully moving story and one of the tenth doctor's triumphant moments. Donna,ever human as she is of course, is unwilling to simply allow the people of Pompeii to die before her eyes even if history dictates it must be. Of course the doctor is faced with the hardest choice of all: sacrifice all Earth to the Pyrovile or destroy Pompeii and all it's people to save it. Its the same "needs of the many outweighing the needs of the few" conundrum he faced,as Donna pointed out,in saving his own world from destruction-which he was unable to do.The visuals of the ancient Roman city,especially the intensely frightening scene of Pompeii being overwhelmed by volcanic ash, are some of the most dramatic visual dynamics ever to be included in Doctor Who. Of course this is also the first appearance of Karen Gillan, who would go on to portray the 11th doctors companion Amy Pond, as an unnamed member of the Sibylline sisterhood as well.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Doctor Who-Partners In Crime

                           Roughly a year after her encounter with the Doctor, Donna Noble takes a job as a door to door representative for Adipose Industries,who are offering a new diet pill that is promising to reduce body fat by use of a special capsule that advertises fat as "walking out the door". What Donna does not know is that the doctor,under the name John Smith has himself applied for a job at Adipose in order to investigate some strange occurrences  He visits a customer who claims to have been awoken early by rustling sounds near his cat door. A customer Donna is visiting actually disappears before her eyes-replaced by two small white bipedal creatures. Donna,who has been watching the stars every night for the TARDIS with her grandfather Wilf, follows the doctor unknowingly to a meeting between Adipose's CEO Miss Foster when she is speaking to a skeptical employee. Donna and the doctor,both watching the event through opposite windows, both overhear Miss Foster discussing how the Adipose pill is actually the catylst for her seeding millions of unknowing humans with an alien embryo that grows off body fat and,if necessary the rest of the human body as well. Through pantomime in the windows, the doctor and Donna identify each other and the situation as it seems.  Foster notices both of them while the doctor and Donna both meet each other and run to a nearby outdoor lift when Foster uses a sonic device to try to plunge them to their death. 

          The doctor escapes through a window in time to get Donna,hanging off the side of the lift into the building where they confront Foster,actually a midwife for the Adiposian first family-who is attempting to use Britain's overweight population as breeding stock for the species which,as the doctor points out,is a felony in galactic law for a planet of Earth's type. While escaping Foster again,the doctor and Donna locate a gigantic computer core in her office,which is operated by the golden pendents each Adipose employee is given. While the doctor is unsuccessful trying to de-activate it with his, Donna provides her own and they are successful. However before this happens Foster activates the breeding controls. Donna's mother Sylvia,at a private dinner with an Adipose customer plays witness to thousands of infant Adipose emerging from some of the guests. Meanwhile Foster,thinking she will escape on the Adiposian mothership because of her help in breeding their children, doesn't realize that as the doctor points out the adult Adiposians are aware of the law against what was done. They retrieve their children,and Foster along with them but realize what she has done and she falls to her death when they de-activate the drop their teleporation device and fly back to their world. Donna then decides to take up the doctor on his earlier invitation to join him. He agrees and she leaves the key to her mothers vehicle in a bin near where she parked her car and asks a young woman to hold onto it-who turns out to be Rose Tyler.

            It was fairly clear at the end of The Runaway Bride that Donna Noble would likely one day elect to take up the doctor on her invitation. While her mother Sylvia is depicted as doubting Donna's abilities to lead a productive life its her grandfather,the dreamy and enthusiastic Wilf, who supports her in her quest to search for "the right man in the blue box" who she feels will change her life for the better. Of course part of the appeal of the doctor to Donna is that she has no physical attraction to him.  And that gives her an interesting sense of impersonal security. The doctor for his part, still weary of feeling responsible for the fates of Rose and now Martha, is not only divided on his feelings on having Donna put herself at risk by joining him in the TARDIS but is also unwilling to let harm come to the Adipose infants solely because of their illegal conception. The Adipose,for their part, a very cuddly marshmallow type creatures-too helpless to be considered villains and their place in the story are as pawns of Miss Foster's egoism,as well as the stories comedic satire on people's shallow obsession with the wrong kind of weight loss. This ends up being an excellent comeback/return story for Donna Noble and a chance for the doctor to (hopefully) successfully travel with another companion.