On The Hazards Of Reviewing Part 1 Before You’ve Seen Part 2

You’ll remember (especially since it was only last week) that I was disappointed in Doctor Who‘s prior episode, “Under the Lake.” After the fantastic opening that was “The Magician’s Apprentice” and “The Witch’s Familiar,” the storytelling in this Part 1 just didn’t seem to measure up by comparison.

But it’s been a long while since we Whovians have seen a season built entirely on multi-part stories, as Series 9 has promised. When a narrative is allowed to unfold over two or more episodes, you have to look at the parts in the context of the whole. And when you do, things that might not work in the beginning make a lot more sense by the end.

Which is to say that I appreciate “Under the Lake” a lot more now that I’ve seen “Before the Flood.”

Continue reading

Speechless, But Speaking Volumes

I wanted to like this week’s Doctor Who much more than I did. It’s not a terrible episode ([insert random snark about “Let’s Kill Hitler” here]), but after Twelve’s rock-idol return in “The Magician’s Apprentice” and the beautiful character scenes of “The Witch’s Familiar,” any story would have to be really special to even hope to measure up. And this one wasn’t quite there.

But even if the great moments of “Under the Lake” didn’t add up to a great episode, they were still great moments.

Especially one.

Continue reading

A Game Of Old Men Who Have Lived Too Long

It’s relatively minor, I’ll admit, but one of the things I enjoyed about this week’s episode of Doctor Who was that now I don’t have to be so circumspect about what happened in the season premiere. So, spoilers away…

When we last left The Doctor, he was in another very dark place. Trapped on Skaro by his ancient nemesis Davros, with his three closest friends seemingly exterminated before his eyes, he looked truly broken, desparate enough to throw away his greatest rule: the rule of compassion.

Exterminate?

And so ended “The Magician’s Apprentice,” a dazzling beginning to Series 9. But this was a two-parter. And we all know how hard it is for the second part to live up to the promise of the first.

Except this time, it was even better.

Continue reading

Tonight, You’re Going To Break Your One Rule

Good men don’t need rules. Today is not the day to find out why I have so many.

As good as Matt Smith was as The Doctor – and he could be very, very good – his time on Doctor Who gave Eleven few moments where he could be well and truly dangerous. (The above quote, from “A Good Man Goes To War,” is one of those few.)

That hasn’t been an issue with Twelve. From “Deep Breath” on, Peter Capaldi has taken the character to those dark places only hinted at before. He’s borne the weight of the horrible things The Doctor has seen, the horrible choices he’s had to make.

And he’s nowhere near done.

Continue reading

So, Ten Years Ago Today, This Happened…

…and we’ve been running ever since.

After too long away, Doctor Who returned, with a new generation of actors, directors, and writers to bring sci-fi’s most unique hero-of-sorts on his way. And generations new and old were swept up in the terror and wonder of all of time and space, all over again.

Today, the adventure shows no end in sight. And I’d like to think we’re all a little better for it – at least I believe I am.

(h/t to that FX genius “John Smith,” whoever he may be…)

Thank you for coming back, Doctor. Here’s to many more ahead…

The Thing About Paddington

There’s a moment in the film Paddington that you should recognize from your typical modern family film. You should recognize it, but it’s not quite what you’re used to.

The Umbrella Chase

Early in the film, there’s a chase scene in which Paddington crosses paths with a thief. Many live-action “kids’ movies” have similar set pieces, but few handle them the way this film does. The chase doesn’t rush. It unfolds. It takes its time to reveal its delights. It trusts its audience. It’s not built on mayhem, but on something we don’t see as often as I’d like: a sense of surprise and wonder and charm and joy.

And that’s the beauty of the film.

Continue reading

Yes, Clara, There Is A Doctor

We don’t believe in Santa Claus because he’s real. He’s real because we believe in him.

There’s that kind of power in our fantasies, our fairy tales, our heroes. They don’t have to exist in our world. And it might be far better that they don’t. Reality can be a mess sometimes, maybe most times. And it’s a comfort to know that there’s something outside of it. Something better. Something impossible and incredible and great.

And so we create these heroes and vest our faith in them. Like Santa Claus.

Like the Doctor.

Continue reading

Old Friends Die Hard

“Clara, be my pal. Tell me… am I a good man?”
“I… don’t know.”
“Neither do I.”

– from “Into the Dalek,” by Phil Ford and Steven Moffat

They were the central questions of Series 8 of Doctor Who. What kind of man is this new Doctor? Is he a hero? Does he still care? Is he even capable of caring anymore?

It’s to the show’s credit that it dared to ask those questions, to explore the darker sides of life with, and as, the last Time Lord. Asking those questions gave us stories like “Listen” and “Flatline.”

And it’s to the show’s credit that in the end, it found a way to answer them.

Continue reading

If This Is Paradise, I Wish I Had A Sonic Lawnmower

Since I’ve committed to life as a Doctor Who blogger, I’ve often surprised myself with the connections I’ve made. Not so much within the show itself – it’s easy to find traces of a past story or a past Doctor in the current series. It’s Doctor Who – there’s always going to be at least a piece of its past in its present.

No, the surprise comes from the connections I find outside of the series, the things an episode reminds me of as I’m watching it. Last week’s episode is a perfect example. I didn’t go into “Flatline” looking for a Bourne Identity parallel, but once I found it, it just made perfect sense to explore that.

With all that in mind, you really have to wonder about the kind of mind that goes from Doctor Who to Talking Heads…
Continue reading