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 His discomfort at Clara having lied to him is superseded by his interest in helping her and the doctor save the Earth from the Blitzer.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.