Friday, December 26, 2014

Doctor Who-Last Christmas

                       One snowy morning Clara awakens to find Santa and two elves on her rooftop,with seemingly the sole purpose of convincing her she actually believes in them. Finally the doctor shows up in the TARDIS-informing Clara that she is has to go with the doctor because humanity's fate might be at stake. They arrive at a base at the North Pole at some point in time. It's a base being terrorized by creatures that the doctor refers to as dream crabs,terrestrial Earth lifeforms capable of using it's hosts dreams as a form of anesthetic while consuming their bio-matter.

                         While working with different members of the research team to find out how to stop the dream crabs,Clara is absorbed by one of them and imagines herself with a living Danny Pink. The doctor,having been absorbed voluntarily to warn her of what's happening,manages to successful pull them both of the supposed illusion until he realizes the onion effect of the what the dream crabs are doing-using layers of plausible illusion to keep everyone unconscious while they slowly consume them. 

                    Thinking everyone was attacked in the bases infirmary,they awaken when the doctor deduces the same effect-with the identical copy of the polar base operation manual containing totally different first words on the exact same page. During another try of this,realizing the pain they are all feeling in their head as the key focal point for their actual reality,the doctor realizes the persistent presence of Santa Claus questioning everyone as to his reality is actually a safety net. 

                       The reality of everyone's situation is they are all asleep,in different places on Earth,possibly different times even and the dream crabs are all linking them together as part of a plan. In order to escape this,Santa appears with his reindeer and sleigh-taking everyone with him and giving the doctor the chance to indulge in a fantasy of steering his sleigh. Soon everyone remembers who they are and disappear-all except Clara. 

                   The doctor believes he has awakened on a planet and returns to free Clara from the dream crab only to find her 62 years old. He talks to her about her supposed experiences since they last met before Santa again reminds him to "wakey wakey",and he wakes up on the same red planet-and rescues the real and young Clara from the dream crab. And invites her back to the TARDIS with him for yet more journey's through space and time.

                    Upon first viewing? This emerges as possibly one of my very favorite Doctor Who Christmas tales. Perhaps one of the best of such Doctor Who stories thus far. The story really kicks into how each of the characters,in particular with Clara missing the deceased Danny Pink and the doctor in turn missing Clara,with how much the imagery of Christmas really fires up the imagination. That plus Nick Frost as a rather pimped out attituded Santa,complete with comedy Elves makes for a story full of horror,laughs,toy robots taking siege of an imaginary moon base and a tangerine! In the Whoniverse? Christmas is always fun!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Doctor Who-Death In Heaven

                       While Clara attempts to fool a small army of Cybermen at 3W HQ into thinking she is the doctor,the actual doctor is attempting to fend of Missy and the Cybermen army. She is attempting to pass them off as an art installation until a lady asking to take a photo reveals herself to be an incognito member of UNIT-with her and Kate Lethbridge Stewart having Missy and the Cyber army totally surrounded. By this time the Cybermen fly into the air which,as Missy explains,will cause a rain across the Earth that will ensure the Cybermen's takeover of the planet. All the while,Clara is successful in fooling the Cybermen army on 3W into destroying one another rather than her.

           Much to the doctors surprise she then tranquilizes both him and Missy together. She cites his past unreliability with UNIT as her reason for getting him to guarantee to the position she must now assign him in this planetary emergency: as the president of the entire planet Earth itself. Aboard a specialized emergency airplane,the doctor tells Stewart and the UNIT crew that the "rain" is actually Cybermen bio matter. And that they must have found some way to control the bodies of deceased humans in a centuries long plan of Missy's at 3W-all along set up as a prerequisite for the on-coming invasion.

             While Danny Pink begins to notice the change inside the "neurosphere" that is 3-W,he is told the truth before the rain before the first of the new Cybermen begin to rise from graveyards the world over. Clara finds herself deposited in one such graveyard. As the flying Cybermen catch up with with the UNIT plane,Missy causes an escape plan by using her guard to escape,than killing her while the Cybermen enter and hijack the plane. In the graveyard,Clara's life is spared by one particular Cyberman. As he approaches her he reveals himself to be constructed from the body of Danny Pink. He than proceeds to beg Clara to activate the circuit that will remove the emotions which he doesn't want to have.

              Escaping the broken up UNIT plane after Missy transports out and he believes Kate has been blown out into the sky,the doctor locks onto his departed TARDIS and engineers an escape to find Clara. All after Missy has revealed to him that she now knows the coordinates of Gallifrey.  And that she'd carefully masterminded that Clara would become his companion. He arrives to find that Missy attempting to sway the doctor into re-joining her to return to his home world. All the while with Clara desperate for the doctor to save the life of Danny Pink. Between the two demands made on him,the doctor asks Clara to deactivate Danny's emotions so he can explain how the Cybermen's mission will be carried out. Danny explains how Missy has been controlling the Cybermen through a bracelet,which she gives to the doctor-offering him full over over the Cybermen. 

                The doctor defers control of the bracelet to Danny,who rallies the Cybermen as a soldier to return to the sky where the cloud they created burns away with them in it. The doctor dismisses Missy-either killing her or sending her back to her TARDIS while he goes off to Gallifrey. He was deceived by Missy and doesn't find it of course. But he does return to Clara to inform he was returning there anyway-allowing her to remain with Danny-who he thinks returned using the bracelet. Before leaving he finds Kate Stewart returned alive,apparently the doing of her now Cyberman body of her father-the "Brigadier". Of course,since it was a one way journey for one person? Danny actually had opted to send back the boy he killed in war.

                  While the Cybermen present,now with the ability to fly,is very appealing to Whovians I am sure? This is actually a very moving story about honesty,deception and betrayal. The science of the Cybermen being used by Missy,the new "Master" regeneration,to use bio matter of dead humans to replicate is a good new development for the classic Doctor Who adversary. Michelle Gomez's turn as the darkly comic and very unstable Missy is also a highlight. At the same time,the story actually provides an interesting and rather literary ending to the Clara/Danny Pink saga-with him apparently sacrificing his miserable and sad existence for the life of the young boy he killed in war. The idea of the doctor's discomfort with soldiers provides the arc of the story-a doctor who still doesn't quite know himself. As for whether Clara will be his companion in the future? It would appear this actually won't be the case.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Doctor Who-Dark Water

                         Following a call from Clara whose noticed sticky notes describing her recent adventures with the doctor all over the wall,her concerned phone call to Danny Pink is interrupted by a lady who claims she just ran over him in her car. After Pink's demise,Clara receives a call from the doctor asking after her. Once on board the TARDIS, she then uses a patch aboard of the doctors to induce him into a dream state where she threatens to throw all of his TARDIS keys into  an active volcano if he doesn't bring Danny back to her-rational being that she's seen him manipulate life and death.

                       Though decrying her behavior,the doctor agrees to have Clara connect with the TARDIS's telepathic circuit,as she did before,in order to connect herself stronger with Danny Pink's timeline-to which she is emotionally connected.  Once this is done,the TARDIS takes them to what appears to be a mausoleum filled with skeletal human remains suspended in a liquid medium. The doctor encounters a manual which projects a holographic ad for 3W,apparently some type of "humane" method of life after death. 

                 After encountering a woman who claims to be an android rep named Missy,the doctor and Clara are taken to her subordinate who claims that the name 3W refers to three words heard by the founder of the facility-who claims to have isolated the voices of the dead through white noise in the television from the dead saying "don't cremate me",indicating people still have feeling after death. This explains the name (3 words),yet the doctor is skeptical. 

                    Meanwhile Danny Pink has also arrived at 3W,and is receiving the same story-that he is dead and connected to his own deceased corpse. He is linked by means of a localized Wi-Fi to Clara,something that has apparently never happened at 3W HQ before,where she attempts to question him as to the truth of his identity. The doctor meanwhile goes to see Missy for more information about the facility itself and what she plans to do with the corpses.

                     All around Clara and the doctor,without them immediately noticing the transparent "dark water" with which they are all surrounded are receding to reveal the bodies of the doctors nemesis the Cybermen. After meeting with a boy he apparently killed in war,Danny Pink is then given the option to "delete" his emotions. When the doctor discovers this,Missy takes him to the center of London-where they've apparently already been. After his attempts to warn the population of their impending doom? Missy reveals her name as short for mistress because she can no longer go by her original name of The Master.

                       Aside from the reveal of this series' ongoing story arc character of Missy as being a new regeneration of The Master? This story has some similarities to the classic 1985 Colin Baker serial Revelation Of The Daleks in that it deals with the deceased being used as vessels by one of the doctor's foes. In this case,its the Cybermen rather than the Daleks. The element of people's irrational fear of death,and their inability to accept it as a part of their own existence,is added into this story as well.

                    As for Clara's behavior at the beginning of this episode? Speak of irrationality! While the trauma of a dead loved one can cause emotional instability? Clara's self centered behavior to the doctor,whose saved whole civilizations from utter destruction throughout time,removes a great deal of likability about the character-already suffering from a poorly realized attitude this series. That Clara would actually take away the doctor's means to be heroic only to satisfy her romantic needs. As for the story itself,there is of course more to tell.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Doctor Who-In The Forest Of The Night

                        The TARDIS materializes in what turns out to be Trafalgar square,where the doctor meets a young girl named Maebh Arden who had ran away from a museum field trip at the Coal Hill School with Mister Danny Pink. After their sleepover in the museum,Danny and his students awake to find a London (and much of the planet) covered in dense forest foliage. Not only is the presence of this forest mystifying. But also that Maebh,a girl whom her students and fellow teachers view as mentally delusional and on medication,seems to have knowledge of the doctor and also has been making some rather unsettling drawings in her notebook.

                           Back in the TARDIS a fast observation of the drawings indicates that the visuals and numbers of it indicate a massive solar flair powerful enough to destroy the planet,one that is arriving today. Local officials meanwhile are trying to burn paths through the forest in order to clear pedestrian pathways,and find the trees are resisting their attempts. After escaping a number of escaped zoo animals,Maebh is revealed to be a child of preternatural mental ability-whose a voice for an unseen alien voice on Earth protecting the new trees from destruction. The doctor assumes that the laws of physics suddenly dismissing themselves are a sign of the planet's impending doom. 

                           After Clara leads him to travel alone in the TARDIS and continue his mission after Earth's inevitable demise,the doctor chases Clara,Danny and the students back to the TARDIS to explain that the intelligence occupying these trees have created the natural shrubbery as a way to consume all the carbon dioxide given off by the solar flares and thus saving the Earth. It's up to Maebh to send an urgent message to the world-urging them not attempt to destroy the new shrubbery. With Danny and the students returning to Coal Hill,Clara and the doctor watch from the TARDIS as his "solar airbag" of oxygenation successfully shields the planet from the gigantic solar flare.

                            While the character of Maebh Arden is a strong one,indicating my thoughts that what some might see as mental illness may be an unknown gifted perception at times,some of her fellow students do come across as rather annoying characters. While at first the playing up of the irascible cynicism of Peter Capaldi's doctor is equally as unpleasant? This episode does have an important and distinctive social message about deforestation. With environmentalism and climate change in the hearts and minds of the world? This adds a relatively plausible element of science fiction wherein an alien presence in trees won't allow Earth to be destroyed. It's an excellent infusion of hope for those who are convinced climate change cannot be stopped. And that the world does in fact have a future if we wish it to.


Sunday, October 19, 2014

Doctor Who-Flatline

                       When the doctor attempts to return Clara back to her precise,previous destination the TARDIS finds itself in Bristol. Oddly enough,the exterior of it has been reduced to half it's normal size and it's continuing to shrink. Clara goes to investigate the situation while the doctor stays and attempts to solve the problem. At a nearby highway tunnel she meets Rigsy,a young Graffiti artist doing community service. She's quick to notice the graffiti on the side of the tunnel-all full bodies of people with their backs turned. Rigsy and lead civic worker Roscoe proceed to point out that there have been mysterious deaths all over town. When Clara returns to the TARDIS,she finds it further reduced  to roughly the size of a human hand.

                      Considering the doctor is now longer able to exit,he gives Clara the sonic screwdriver and asks her to operate on his behalf. She proceeds to go with Rigsy to his home,the doctor talking to her through a type of psychic Blue Tooth that allows him to see through her eyes. The screwdriver is able to detect,following a police officer who suddenly disappeared,that what seem to be unusual patterns on the wall are actually two dimensional human remains. By the time the doctor determines the city is being invaded by lifeforms that can affect dimension? Clara and Rigsy are escaping the creatures,apparently living in the walls,as they pursue the pair into Rigsy's glass hammock.

                    Once outside Rigsy's flat,he and Clara return with the shrunken TARDIS in tow back to the train station where Clara unites Roscoe and his civic crew in escaping these lifeforms-who continually seem to outrun them at every turn. Even to the point of killing at least one more time. As the doctor determines that these creatures are in fact parasitic somehow,the nature of this is determined by Clara who,by talking to Rigsy about the graffiti of the people in the tunnel that these represent the physical bodies of some of those who had been killed. The lifeforms then begin to manifest themselves as flesh twisted versions of the bodies of those who'd been killed.

                          During Clara and company's escape the shrunken TARDIS,having fell into the center of a railroad track,is forced to go into a siege mode wherein no one can get out or in. Once Clara is able to retrieved the "locked" TARDIS she is able to overhear the doctor speak of the need for energy reserves to make it function,and that he has a solution for dealing with the aliens. She asks Rigsy,following a near self sacrifice to stop the train before it ran over the TARDIS,to great a graffiti painted gate the aliens would be fooled into opening-with the TARDIS behind it and allowing the energy they create to re-fuel it. With the TARDIS restored? The doctor managed to use the sonic screwdriver to feedback the aliens energy and return them to their dimensional realm-after which he returns everyone involved back to where they came from.

                            This is a very captivating story for a number of reasons. For one,it provides many informative and often comic moments (such as the doctor using his hand to pull the miniature TARDIS out of danger ala' the Addams Family's Thing). Also we learn the TARDIS has a safe mode-rather like a far more advanced one on a personal computer. The thrust of the story,aliens who have the capability of altering the entire 3 dimensional nature of matter to it's own benefit,makes for some exciting and sometimes horrifying moments-as well as bringing out a compelling scientific theory at the core of Doctor Who itself with the TARDIS: the idea of relative dimension  itself. 

                         Even the doctor admits the Clara really showed her mettle as a vicarious doctor-solving a life and death problem with brain over bron and wits over fear. Jenna Louise Coleman plays it up wonderfully in what Whovians refer to as a "doctor light" story. Of the human characters Rigsy,the everyday man of the setup acts as Clara's companion and helps save...perhaps humanity from losing their life and dimension in the end. The blustery protagonist of Roscoe,potentially a minor irritant in the story,turns out to embody the worst aspects of humanity in the end. While the world is saved,people have died. Most of the human characters sho compassion save for Roscoe-who just feels they are lower class people no one will truly miss. This says as much for the dimension of the mind as the story itself does for the dimension of the physical self.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Doctor Who-Mummy On The Orient Express

                         For her final journey on the TARDIS,the doctor takes Clara on board a space bound simulation of the Orient Express for a railway trip through the stars. Pandemonium ensues when the doctor and Clara are suspected of being responsible for the murder of an elderly passenger. When the woman's granddaughter Maisie take it upon herself to investigate the death,they find themselves discussing their respective positions while the doctor confronts the captain of this expedition and his attempts to keep the continuing deaths quiet to avoid panic.

                          What's really happening is that mummy-like creatures are killing passengers on the train,many of whom turn out to be different medical and scientific experts,and the fact it all seems to happen within 66 seconds is inflaming many of their own superstitions and plays into why they are keeping the situation quiet. Even when Clara and Maisie decide to join the doctor on his mission? The doctor figures out that the Orient Express setup and most of it's passengers are a simulation-fabricated by a sentient computer that is performing a study on the life and death of humanoid beings.

                            The doctor then finds that the mummy's responses to those it "kills" seem to come not only from there emotions,but also from their likely physical probability of death when the computer dismissively murders several live cooks on the train for that very reason. The doctor also figures out these mummy's are programmed alien soldiers and liberates one of them by allowing everyone to see it at once-even if they aren't dying. The computer responds by cutting off the crew's air supply.  In the end the doctor manages to rescue Clara and much of the crew to a nearby sentient world. After a conversation with Danny Pink,Clara decides to continue her journey's with the doctor.

                                During this series in particular many Whovians,even a few I have know,have expressed great disappointment in some of the directions the show has been taking under the direction of producer Steven Moffatt. Even I can clearly see some of the issues these people have bought up with this episode. The story of the mummy's and the orient express,very much of human fear obscuring the eventual rational that what's been happening is a computer's logical view of life and death,is a compelling one making for wonderful storytelling.  And the appearance of jelly babies adds some fun continuity to the current series resurrection of Doctor Who's past. Yet at the same time,deeper holes appear very clearly on the surface of the story.

                                   Clara Oswald's personal problems with the doctor,which were illustrated at the end of the previous weeks episode,simply weren't integral to this story and prevented some major points from being addressed. Why did Clara go on one final trip with the doctor after stating she was leaving right then and there? What was the source of these mummy-like soldiers and just what was the doctor's relationship with them? And most of all? Why,after only a brief phone call to Danny Pink,did Clara have a manic change of heart to continue her travels with the doctor only after her lover seemingly gave her the okay to do so? Perhaps in the future Doctor Who stories might benefit from closer attention to the plot than advancing lesser elements of the doctor/companion personal dynamic.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Doctor Who-Kill The Moon

                       Noticing Courtney Woods' further self destructive behavior following her journey with the doctor on the TARDIS,Clara insists that the doctor find a way to tell Courtney that she is special. His answer is to take her and Clara on a journey to the moon. When they arrive however,the year is 2049 and they find themselves in a makeshift NASA space shuttle filled with nuclear explosives.  While Courtney takes in her surroundings,the doctor confers with the shuttles crew led by Lundvik,who informs him that they've been sent by Earth in an extreme hurry because the planet is encountering massive ecological disruptions due to unknown changes in the moon.

                     Since the gravity of the moon appears to suddenly be strong enough to allow human beings to walk effectively upon it? The doctor determines the moon is being weighed down by something enormous. So he,Clara,Courtney and Lundvik's team take a walk along the lunar surface to a Mexican scientific expedition that had sent an SOS to Earth and had apparently been killed. When there they discover a spider-like alien who kills the last of Lundvik's crew. While a confused an board Courtney returns to the TARDIS,following her using window cleaner to kill the creature before it attacked her,the doctor determines said alien is actually an enlarged germ.

                        Upon returning to where the other astronauts on Lundvik's team had died,the doctor and his team locate masses of these creatures just under the moons surface. A gigantic moon quake causes the makeshift shuttle to sink-including it's nuclear weapons. With only Lundvik's activation device and the Mexican station as a base camp? The doctor announces that the alien creates are in fact bacteria on a much large organism-one he has been able to pinpoint with his sonic screwdriver: a giant dragon-like flying creature.  The doctor gives Lundvik two choices-allow the creature to hatch and see what happens or destroy it with the nuclear weapons on the shuttle.

                            Interestingly enough? The doctor leaves Clara,Lundvik and Courtney alone to work out the situation-since it is there moon. Yet with their knowledge that it's actually a hatching egg with a gestation period of millennia? An ethical argument ensues wherein Earth control contacts Lundvik. Clara explains the situation and to answer them by turning the planets entire light system off. Earth turns them off just in time-indicating they wish the creature destroyed but Clara stops Lundvik from initiating the weapons when she hears the doctors TARDIS.

                              The doctor proceeds to take them all to watch the moon explode and the creature emerge-flying away after laying another egg-which will last as Earth's moon until probably the end of time itself. He also tells Lundvik that humanity witnessing this even,their first extra terrestrial sighting,encourages them to renew their interest in space exploration and begins a new age for humanity. Before returning Clara and Courtney to Earth,Clara angrily rails out at the doctor for essentially terrifying her and potentially his other companions and demands that she discontinue her travels in the TARDIS. She returns to Coal Hill,seeking comfort in her disappointment and anger from Danny Pink.

                               Personally I find this to be the most absorbing and  consummately   enjoyable episodes of Series 8 as it's so far occurred. It speaks to my exact views on space exploration-that the wonderful discoveries that await us from it will inspire future generations to do great things in friendship to sustain itself by moving on into the cosmos. As they do in this case,realizing the moon is actually a life form. Hermione Norris turns in an amazing performance as Lundvik-very much a one episode companion in and of herself. While I am at this point unsure? This might well be Clara's last journey with the doctor. Never in my time watching Doctor Who have I witnessed a companion so outraged and disappointed at the doctors behavior as Clara was at the conclusion of this story. As Danny Pink suggested to her however,how will she feel when her anger fades away?

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Doctor Who-The Caretaker

                       After tiring herself out going between missions with the doctor on the TARDIS and returning for dates with her lover Danny Pink,Clara is abruptly told by the doctor that he is going under deep cover and cannot travel with her for a time. When Clara and Danny attend a meeting to introduce the Coal Hill School's new caretaker,it turns out to be the doctor...whose "deep cover" goes no further than a janitors jacket. He than proceeds to mill about the school,randomly hiding different devices and randomly getting himself involved in Clara's classes and especially her relationship with Danny.

                    While fending off meddling school student and admitted "disruptive influence" Courtney Woods,the doctor soon a frustrated Clara-who demands to know the nature of the doctor's mission. He is actually searching to remove a robot called the Skovok Blitzer from the school,where it was accidentally re-routed from it's original mission and contains enough weaponry to pulverize the planet. He has been planting scanners throughout the school in order to lure the Blitzer to the TARDIS and remove it from the planet. 

                     Meanwhile a suspicious Danny Pink discovers one of the scanners and,inadvertently allows the Blitzer to discover the doctor,who has used an invisibility watch to throw the robot off his track. After witnessing the Blitzer being sucked into a time vortex,apparently for a 72 hour period,Danny now has many questions about the doctor and his relationship with Clara. After being shown the TARDIS and explained about the doctor's alien identity? His discomfort at Clara having lied to him is superseded by his interest in helping her and the doctor save the Earth from the Blitzer.

                         Following Danny using the invisibility watch to see if he can truly trust Clara,he and the doctor perturb one another after realizing the other's motivations. During a following PTA meeting led by Danny and Clara,the doctor calls them both to sudden action as he has successfully been able to lure the Blitzer back into the school with his sonic screwdriver and use a translator to make the robot believe it's his superior. After accidentally activating the robot's terminal self destruct mechanism,Danny leaps over the robot and gives the doctor just enough time to terminate the self destruct and begin the robots de-activation. 

                     Realizing Danny's heroic nature,he takes the space sick Courtney Woods on a brief trip into space on the TARDIS while Danny and Clara patch things up on their own,on Earth. Meanwhile one of the security personnel of the Coal Hill School believes that he is reporting to the government board about the science fiction-like occurrences he has just witnessed. The man whom he is talking to claims that the guard hasn't made it out of the affair alive. And that he has in fact entered into the afterlife. Unfortunately the head of this place,the ever-present Missy,is said to be very busy at the present time.

                       At it's core,this is not a story about the doctor and his mission to save the Earth as he has many time's before. Nor is it a soap opera regarding Clara's relationship. This is the story of Samuel Anderson's Danny Pink. This is a character that has had my curiosity  peaked since his first appearance at the beginning of Into The Dalek. He is a character that has a past: as to whether it's some form of PTSD or something broader I do not know. But in this story,he is quick thinking and astute enough to understand the doctor's motivations in his mission and to Clara. He tells Clara he feels the Doctor is similar to a motivating,strict drill sergeant. Yet also lets Clara know if it is all too much for her,he is there by her side. And the doctor now trusts both characters even more implicitly as well.


Sunday, September 21, 2014

Doctor Who-Time Heist

                       On route to a date with Danny Pink,Clara is interrupted by the doctor when he receives a phone call in the TARDIS. When he answers,he and Clara find themselves in a room with two strangers. One is a man named Psi who has a cybernetic interface,and a woman named Siabra,with a coalescent type ability to mimick the appearance of anyone she touches while in any physical contact with them. According to a video they all play witness to,they are to rob the Bank of Karabraxos: the most secure bank in the universe. And their memories of how they got their were wiped in order to protect them.

                 During the beginning of their mission,they encounter head of bank security Ms.Delphox,whose alien teller can read the thoughts of anyone planning a criminal activity and than literally scoop the brains out said individual-as the doctor and his cohorts have to tragically witness. Having to act on the beat of this teller,the doctor and Clara manage to witness the loss first of Siabra and later to the self sacrificing Psi using an atomic disintegrater that the doctor deems is a more humane way to die than what the teller does.

                   After the doctor and Clara are finally found by Delphox and ordered to be taken away,it turns out that the guards taken away were Siabra and Psi in disguise. The atomic disintegrater was actually a teleporter. And there was were two ships in orbit-one of which was the TARDIS. Now having learned from Delphox that that the teller is the last of it's kind and the reason for the TARDIS being hidden having to do with it's easy detection,he proceeds with his companions to the offic of Karabraxos herself-a woman in fact who has cloned herself in every facility in a similar manner to Delphox.

                       Her room filled with treasures from all over the galaxy,the doctor determines the only way to return his memories are to interface with the teller-where he retrieves the memories of what truly occurred. The entire mission was never truly a bank heist,but actually a rescue mission for another of the tellers species-a possible lover help captive to ensure his loyalty to Karabraxos. The doctor returns Psi and Siabra back to their respective homes and times while Clara returns to the exact moment of where she left. All after having dropped off the two aliens back on their home world to perhaps rebuild their species.

                       Much of the time? I've had no trouble dealing with the fast pace of contemporary Doctor Who. That wasn't the case with this story. Elaborate character development,important plot points and the reasoning for heist/rescue mission are all explained in what sounded like a less than coherent jumble. The scene of the Karabraxos' employee slowly having his brain reduced to "soup" oozing out of his eye was,even by Doctor Who standards,extremely disturbing. And in a way that wasn't at all a fun scare.  Overall,this was a decent episode that could've benefited from less shock value and more of a centered sense of story telling.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Doctor Who-Listen

              During a moment of self meditation,the doctor philosophies about an entity whose sole purpose would be not to be seen,one that would only effect an individual as a nightmare. During a tragically awkward date between Clara and Danny Pink,the doctor shows up in her apartment after she walked away from the date because he needed her to prove his point about the entity he is thinking of. He has her connect herself to the TARDIS's telepathic circuits-which reveals her entire life arc,cradle to grave,to him. They then journey to an orphanage,thinking they'll find a young Clara but instead locate a young boy named Rupert Pink whose afraid of the dark.

                 The doctor and Clara ease young Rupert's anxiety about something he sees under his bed clothes. Once this supposed creature disappears,with the bed cloths no less,the doctor returns Rupert to sleep and giving him to think it was all a dream using time lord "dad skills". He returns Clara to her date with Danny,which again turns out awkward when a man in a spacesuit crashes the affair. She returns with him to the TARDIS. Turns out to be an early human time traveler from the 22nd century named Orson Pink,whom the doctor discovered on Clara's timeline. His time ship,only supposed to go a week ahead in time,traveled millennia to the last planet at the very end of the physical universe.

                   Orson has been trapped alone on the ship for six months. And as with young Rubert,actually young Danny Pink as it turned out,was afraid-only this time of the clanging sounds in the pipes of the ship. The doctor orders Clara to return to the TARDIS while he investigates an opening egress door on which Orson has written a message on stating it must'nt be opened. When the ships atmosphere is breached,Orson grabs the doctor back into the TARDIS where Clara uses it's telepathic circuits to get them all out. 

               When they stop,they've landed in what Clara thinks is an orphanage. She meets a young boy sleeping in the barn of a cabin due to fear of the dark. She hides under the bed and overhears the what are presumably boys parents discussing how if he doesn't deal with his fears,he'll never become a time lord. After comforting the child with the vision of time as a companion,Clara returns to the doctor and asks as to why he went through all this trouble to seek out an unknown monster simply to justify his own childhood fear of the dark-which she realizes she just discovered. Orson returns to his life,while Clare returns to resolve her budding romance with Danny Pink.

                  This is a story that sticks very much to its heart-the very idea of someone trying to get inside ones fears and anxieties. It is something that is very true to my heart because,as an adult I came to some similar realizations that the fears I had might have a physical manifestation in my heart and mind. The story itself is rather claustrophobic,some could say a bit slow in parts. The driven obsession of Capaldi's doctor drives the narrative along. It also references Clara again as the "impossible girl"-being a complete influence on the doctors past. Its not an entirely comfortable story. But in the sense of fear as a companion bringing people to one another? It does raise questions that are perhaps better asked than answered.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Doctor Who-Robot Of Sherwood

                       The doctor asks Clara to pick anywhere in space and time she wishes to go. And she picks Sherwood Forest as she yearns for the possibility of meeting Robin Hood himself. Convinced a front that the character only exists in literature,the doctor takes her there anyway-one to open the TARDIS doors to find it pierced by the arrow of a man who appears to be and announces himself to be none other than Robin of Locksley himself. To prove the skeptical doctor wrong,Robin takes him and Clara to meet his "Merry Men":Will Scarlet,Alan A-Dale,Friar Tuck and John Little are all accounted for-even as the doctor investigates their apparent unreality. Yet it seems Robin and his Merry Men are planning to invade Nottingham Castle that day,with the doctor and Clara joining them.

                   During a bow and arrow match in which Robin pits his archery talents for the display of Prince John himself,the doctor fires a precision arrow into a target which reveals the knighted guards to be robots. The doctor than allows him,Robin and Clara to be taken prisoner by the Sheriff  in order to gain for information. As the doctor and Robin argue endlessly over their escape plan,Clara is courted and dined by the Sherrif. He reveals to her these robots came to him from a spaceship that fell from the sky. And he sees them as his key to his greed and lust for world domination. The doctor and Robin,upon failing at an attempt to bribe a hapless guard to escape manage to find their own way out.

                    The doctor and Robin discover the inner heart of the castle is actually a spaceship,with computers containing all information on Robin Hood and Sherwood Forest. Convinced at last this is all a deception,the doctor turns on Robin-who promptly escapes to question Clara,now his captor,of the doctor's true identity. After confronting the Sheriff,he reveals to the doctor his robbing the taxes out of the local peasants was his way of retrieving the gold needed to repair the alien robots spaceship to satisfy their bargain. In the end Robin comes to the doctors aid and it ends with the Sheriff being alchamized in his own device. The doctor departs Sherwood, following Robin identifying with him as the last of the time lords,and with the doctor leaving him with his beloved Maid Marion.

                   The idea of blending Robin Hood's Sherwood Forest into Doctor Who is an idea ripe for the show. The doctor has shown no surprise in the past at what was thought as fiction being reality. And Tom Riley gives us an excellent Robin Hood. Aside from the comedy and knockabout swordplay of Robin and his Merry Men? This story actually has what I view as a somewhat depressing flaw. At first the doctors' doubts as to Robin Hood's reality is cute comedy-leading to one of the episodes funniest scenes where the doctor successfully fights swashbuckling Robin Hood with a  spoon. But following their escape from Prince John's dungeon? The doctor becomes something I've really never seen him as: completely and utterly cynical.

                    The doctor's treatment of Robin Hood in the story gradually degrades. He starts out almost comically skeptical,then seemingly envious. And upon discovery of the date bank of the robots space ship? He begins to continually yammer on about how Robin Hood was only a heroic work for fiction to keep the spirits of Nottingham up while the Ben Miller's Sheriff of Nottingham did his damage. He even grew paranoid that Robin was in cahoots  with John and the robots plans. Though the thrust of the story was the doctor gaining back that trust? He really never re-emerged as a particularly likable character in this story. His apology to Robin in the end is begrudging and half hearted. Doctor Who,and science fiction in general,works best when offering a hero's journey to hope. And while this story is to the point and even fun? The doctor being played up as an emotionally flattened killjoy distracts from the story and the character itself a bit.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Doctor Who-Into The Dalek

                          Just as the doctor has rescued the Dalek resistance fighter Journey Blue after her ship (and brother) are destroyed,he returns to the Coal Hill School to bring Clara-who has been flirting with new teacher (and troubled former soldier) Danny Pink,to journey with him to return with Blue to her command ship the Aristotle par her demands. When they arrive,the commander of the ship requests their help since their newest arrival,a single injured Dalek, has requested a doctor. And insists on exterminating the other Daleks. 

                        On board the Aristotle there is a medical technology that allows humanoids to be reduced into a nanocordical device-shrunken down to enter living tissue. With the doctors expertise he,Clara,Journey and two fellow soldiers are reduced and into into the complex biotechnologically frenzied world within the (apparently) malfunctioning Dalek. When its cybernetic immunities begin to attack the doctor and his cohorts,they reach the inside of the Dalek-having sacrificed one team member along the way to find the Dalek,nicknamed Rusty by the doctor,overwhelmed with radiation.

                           "Rusty" explains how seeing a star being born altered it's outlook,
and that it saw its own species as a determent to life itself. By repairing a radiation leak near its brain,the doctor inadvertently reactivates the Daleks core nature as it proceeds to escape and attack the Aristotle's crew. The doctor sends Clara and Journey,by this time the last two surviving members of the team surviving when another named Gretchen dies and winds up with the mysterious Missy,to reconnect the nodes to restore the Dalek's memory core of it's earlier vision.

                              Clara and Journey are successful at this,as the doctor enters the Dalek's thoughts and attempts in helping it to rekindle its sense of compassion. The Dalek on the other hand,envisions the doctors disdain of the Daleks and proceeds on its mission to destroy the other Daleks. When the doctor,Clara and Journey exit Rusty,who plans to return to its people,Journey asks to travel with the doctor and Clara in the TARDIS. While the doctor admires her bravery and kindness,he observes she should stay with the Dalek resistance as she remains a soldier.

                                Since the doctor first encountered the Daleks with Barbara,Ian and Susan on Skaro,his relationship with that race has grown in complexity. And their relationship with each other has changes accordingly. Not too long ago convinced that the Daleks were a menacing blight with no purpose for existence? This is another example,along with series 1's 'Dalek',of how the Dalek's only seem to gain a sense of morality when malfunctioning. This time,a first for Doctor Who,we the audience are invited with the doctor and Clara inside of the Dalek itself in this story.

                                When the doctor discovers realizes the conditions that could cause such a morality inducing malfunction that would reform the Daleks? He suddenly begins to show few qualms in making sacrifices in his team to achieve that goal. Even the Dalek Rusty,when merged with him,notices and even mentions that the Doctor-in his quest to defeat them,has developed some characteristics of the Daleks themselves. This stories mixture of wrenching action,excellent acting on the part of everyone involved and a cerebral morality play make this a wonderful parable on what roads are the best ones to take to peace.


Saturday, August 23, 2014

Doctor Who-Deep Breath

                            A Tyrannosaurus Rex is threatening Victorian London. And the only ones in the city who have any possible clue what to do are the ever present Madame Vastra,Jenny and Strax. Before their eyes,the mammoth dinosaur expels the TARIS from its mouth. The saliva covered time machine opens to reveal the befuddled, newly regenerated doctor who recognizes neither Clara,Vastra,Jenny or Strax. They take him to their rooming home to recover while the dinosaur hibernates. In his sleep,Clara observes him translating dialog from the dinosaur while Vastra questions Clara's romantic infatuation with the doctors previous incarnation. And her obvious discomfort with his new face.
                      During the next evening,the doctor manically scribbles calculations on the floor of his room and wanders onto the rooftop to find the Tyrannosaurus spontaneously combust before his eyes. This coincides with many similar incidents in London at this time,apparently. The doctor then jumps into the Thames to give chase. After Strax gives Clara an unusually thorough medical test they agree to journey with Vastra and Jenny to find the wandering time lord. He himself has been undergoing his post-regeneration crisis before a puzzled homeless man in a back ally. While back at Vastra and Jenny's home,Clara notices the term "Impossible Girl" on a newspaper article. And on the other side of the page is a street address.
                      Clara winds up at a restaurant where all the customers are moving but only pretending to eat. After the doctor joins her,they prepare to leave-only to find the people reacting to their movement rather aggressively. Their waiter is revealed by the doctor to not be human. Before the pair can leave again,they are put in restraints and their seats lowered into a subterranean elevator. They then descend into an underground cavern populated by characters such as the type in the restaurant-including a high hatted individual  whose hands do not match. Determining that these are robotic beings taking on humanoid parts,the doctor and Clara split up to investigate.

                      Faced by ongoing androids,Clara remembers having to hold her breath in the restaurant. She manages to get through them until she passes out and his hauled before the high hated android leader. He continues the same logic based line of question about her and the doctor's motives,which she evades by not taking his threats seriously. After succumbing to his intimidation tactics,one of the androids reveals itself to be the doctor in disguise. He returns to the restaurant with the android leader,who claims to have been plundering bodies from across time (including that of the Tyrannosaurs as a power source) to restore their crashed spaceship to locate their "promise land". 

                       As Clara and the newly arrived Vastra,Jenny and Strax face off the androids,they eventually remember not to breath as the doctor convinces the android leader,now aloft in their balloon like escape pod that it has adapted so many human parts to itself,it's beginning to have human like values.  As Vaster,Jenny and Strax escape with Clara the android leader debates the doctor as to whether or not he will kill him to save humanity. And he does kill him,even to the surprise of the doctor himself for doing it. After coercing from Vastra,Clara returns to the doctor and almost returns home-finding the regenerated time lord too unfamiliar. After a call from the previous incarnation on Trenzalore,she decides continue her journey with her old friend with his new face.

                        Peter Capaldi represents an important new element for both Doctor Who in general and in my own personal life. This is the very first regeneration I've personally played witness to. And in fact the entire thrust of this story resolves around self identity-both that of the head hunting android protagonists and the newly regenerated doctor. He has not only regenerated,but is undergoing a totally different life cycle. For all we know? Perhaps not the first either. Especially in terms of Vastra,Jenny and Strax's interaction with the leads? The story has much humor. And Peter Capaldi's 12'th (or is it 13th?) doctor thus far brings a mixture of both Jon Pertwee's dashing gentility and Tom Baker's random intellectual prowess into play. While he has far more in common with classic doctors than the last three personality wise so far? Every actor who portrays the role makes it their own. And one can see Mister Capaldi will surely make that happen on his own too.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Doctor Who-The Ice Warriors

                          The TARDIS materializes underneath a giant glacial layer to find where the Doctor,Jamie and Victoria discover a huge plastic bio dome that-once they enter after two apparent scavengers exit the building encloses a building that even Victoria remarks resembles something from her own 19th century. Upon arriving in a computer control area they find a panicked Leader Clent,along with fellow operator Miss Garrett who are about to experience an overload of a fusion reactor they are using to power an ionizing device. The doctor helps them to alleviate the disaster. And he discovers along the way the reason why the disaster itself occurred.

                      Both Clent and Garrett are part of a team operating this ionizer in order to melt away the glaciers that threaten the UK which they are apparently in and the rest of the world. This is the result of a second ice age humanity created in error when they invented a synthetic food and destroyed all the plant life to house the growing population. Without carbon monoxide,the Earth became devoid of life and entered into a second ice age. Meanwhile Arden,a scientist working with Clent discovered what he believed to be some sort of cave man under such a glacier and enthusiastically returned it to the dome for investigation.

                         After observing the creature,the doctor realizes that this is actually an ancient astronaut with no terrestrial origins and that what they believed to be head armor was actually a sophisticated space helmet. Meanwhile in the dome's lab,Victoria is being menaced by this Ice Warrior who identifies his origin point as being Mars,and wants to know what Victoria knows of his crashed spaceship and crew. He takes her hostage and,when the doctor discovers this he sends Arden and Jamie out to rescue her from the talons of the Ice Warriors who abducted her.

                          While Arden and Jamie find the Ice Warrior's ship frozen in the ice,they are shot by one of them-leaving Arden dead and Jamie severely injured. Having failed already in numerous attempts to escape the Ice Warriors,Victoria pretends to agree to help them by contact Clent in order to reveal the location of the ionizer,which they believe is going to be used to destroy them and whose fusion fuel they intend to use to refuel their spaceship. In the meantime Jamie is dragged away by Penley,a scientist who left Clent behind on a matter of difference and the scavenger Storr-who distrusts science altogether.

                           During an attempt to return Jamie to the base,Penley escapes an attempt from Miss Garrett to sway him into helping the mechanized mind Clent into stabilizing the ionizer permanently. Meanwhile Storr journey's to the Ice Warrior's spaceship in an attempt to convince them that he is allied with them against Clent and his fellow scientists. He too is killed the the Ice Warriors. Having heard Victoria's plea,the doctor has now joined her and attempts to use a "stink bomb" toxic to the Ice Warriors to fascinate an escape attempt. Narrowly making it out, the doctor realizes the Ice Warrior's highly liquefied body makeup and devises a possible new defense for Clent and his base.

                          Returning to the base where Clent is futally trying to reason with Ice Warrior Varga,the doctor manages to alter the oxygen and gravity level in the computer area in such a way that Ice Warriors,
including the callous and threatening Varga, are all destroyed with minimal physical damage to Clent and his team. With the recovered Penley's knowledge of the "Omega Factor" at hand,he is able to cooperate with Clent and the doctor enough to save the faltering fusion ionizer and their mission. While Clent and Penley finally come to an agreement,they find the doctor and his companions have disappeared (back to the TARDIS) before they have a chance to thank him.

                             There are many layers to this densely written (some more cynical critics might say convoluted) 1967 story. The Ice Warriors place absolutely no value on human life and morals-only seeing what they need and what threatens them. They are even impassive to the constantly crying,screaming and understandably frightened Victoria's pleas to return to the doctor and Jamie. There is also Leader Clent-with almost an addiction (along with his employee Miss Garrett) to the need of their computer that has made all of their decisions for them,yet is faltering fast at the abundance of inconsistencies clouding its logic.

                              The basic plot of the story actually addresses the early stirrings of the global warming concept effected humanity today in real life. And again,with the more well rounded approach of the scientist Penley,the enthusiasts approach of Arden and the agrarian Storr are also ahead of their time as they showcase possible alternate sides on the fictional climate change and mind-over-machine dilemma faced in this story. Miss Garrett tries to be the calm middle ground. But in the end remains loyal to Clent and his computer. So it is the doctor and Penley who end up representing balanced scientific rationalism in dealing with both Clent's ionizer dilemma and the Ice Warrior's intrusion in this compelling and futuristically topical story.



Friday, March 28, 2014

Doctor Who-The Moonbase

                         The doctor,Polly,Ben and newest arrival Jamie end up being drawn by a massive gravitational field to Earth's moon,while on the way to the planet Mars. After Ben and Polly insist on going to investigate what has occurred,the doctor and Jamie join them in spacesuits bouncing across the lunar surface where they come upon a Moonbase. On the way,Jamie is injured while enjoying the anti gravity experience. When they arrive they meet a Dr. Hobeson and his team. They discover not only that it is the year 2070 but that this base is in fact home of the Gravitron, a device that uses a massive gravitational field to control Earth's weather from the Lunar surface. 

                      Unfortunately the base has been beset by some enormous setbacks,especially with their already high pressure assignment. An unusual plague has caused some of Hobeson's team,including the doctor,which causes black veins to appear on their bodies and for them to lose consciousness. Not only that but the Gravitron is experiencing a series of unexpected malfunctions and Hobeson's team are quickly losing control of the device. While himself recovering from his injuries in the bases infirmary with the other plague patients,Jamie observes to Polly and the doctor he has seen a mysterious "phantom piper" as his companions try to help Hobeson deal with the plague.

                        Dismissing Jamie's claims as delirium, Hobeson and his team are further pressured to repair the Gravitron by Earth despite their confusion. When another member of the team is compromised, Hobeson begins to suspect the doctor and his companions of all the trouble based on the timing of their arrival and that of the malfunctions and,when confronting them on the matter the doctor ushers them away. Shortly after Polly sees what she recognizes as a Cybermen lurking behind the infirmary. When she informs the doctor and Hobeson, he doesn't believe her claims. 

                    Still believing the doctor is somehow involved,he realizes Polly is correct when the doctor deduces when Gravitron operator Evans falls prey to the strange virus during a coffee break. Deducing it came from the sugar used,the doctor takes samples from Evans and finds a Neurotropic virus capable of altering the human nervous system. Meanwhile, the patients of the supposed plague are being taken to a nearby Cyberman vessel and outfitted with devices by which the Cybermen are able to control their movements. Realizing this,the doctor mobilizes the team to find a solution. 

                  Trapped in the infirmary with Ben,Polly suddenly remembers the Cybermen's plastic chest units,and that her nail polish is made of plastic. So she and Ben gather the necessary polymer thinning chemicals from the lab and construct a high octane liquid thinning agent Ben dubs "Polly Cocktail"-with which they disable the invading Cybermen guarding the infirmary  so they can assist the doctor and Hobeson further. After a number of failed attempts to keep the Cybermen out,they attempt to extinguish the personnel of the base by breaching it's bio dome with lasers. Unfortunately an Earth rescue ship sent to stop the Cybermen and rescue Hobeson's team are re-directed by the Cybermen controlled Gravitron and sent on a direct course for the sun.

                They also manage to regain control of Evans and use him to sabotage the Gravitron and deactivate the security systems-the Cybermen's intent being to use the device to purge the Earth of all biological life. Once Hobeson and teammate Benoit manage to successfully seal one of the Cybermen's breach,the doctor suggests the Gravitron be reversed and set against the lunar surface. When this is done,the Cybermen and their ship are blow off the Lunar surface with their ships. After departing in the TARDIS,the doctor and his companions soon find themselves set upon by the disturbing image of a Crab-like claw. A Macra.

                   I've seen it written many times that that fourth series of Doctor Who,the first to fully feature Patrick Troughton as the doctor overused the "base under siege" plot line.  At the same time this story is an extremely successful one and one of my favorite of the second doctor era. With the visually missing first and third parts brilliantly animated by the same team who did the same for The Reign Of Terror. The idea of a multi cultural human team coming together to use gravitational fields to better stabilize Earth's weather systems is a very captivating one. The possible reality of human politics and need causing this to be a high stress environment adds great drama to the story as well as pointed social commentary.

                  While there is one very embarrassing effect of two Cybermen flying saucers landing with completely obvious marionette strings attached,not to even mention a few sexist jibes at Polly from Ben Jackson this story actually features some interesting elements. For her part Polly emerges as a strong companion-using know how and science to develop her nail polish like cocktail to disable the Cybermen-as well as assisting as part of the medical staff and still have time to make the coffee. The doctor reveals a possible ability to have an inner dialog with some type of auxiliary brain in his head-a concept not fully explored in the series from this point on. Since it is the only available entry from season 4 of the series thus far,this emerges as a strong and satisfying story all things considered.



Monday, January 20, 2014

Tom Baker-My Ten Favorite Episodes From The Fourth Doctor

              Today is the 80'th birthday of Tom Baker. Of course before I ever became familiar with regeneration,Time Lords and TARDIS's it was the visage of Tom Baker: his huge grin,bushy hair,long scarf and coat that I always associated with Doctor Who. This year when William Hartnell, the first actor to play the now iconic role, had a birthday I decided to create a primer to "newhovians",as it were just becoming interested in Doctor Who as I did two years ago. Considering how well that turned out,I've decided to expand that presentation to include a list of my favorite stories of each doctor. So today I am going to present to you my ten favorite stories from Tom Bakers seven plus year run on the show from 1974 to 1981. Thank you and enjoy!

             Well there you have it,my personal ten favorite Tom Baker stories. Happy birthday to Tom Baker-the oldest surviving actor to have portrayed the doctor!