Another Strange Visitor From Another World

And when you go back to the stars and tell others of this planet, when you tell them of its riches, its people, its potential, when you talk of the Earth, then make sure that you tell them this: It is defended!
– The Tenth Doctor

You’re not the first lot to have come here – oh, there have been so many. And what you’ve got to ask is, what happened to them?
– The Eleventh Doctor

I’m not really a fan of the current trend toward dark and gritty superheroes. I accept that there’s a place for them, and when you’re talking about characters like Daredevil or the Punisher (and yes, Frank Castle is technically not a superhero, but he walks in that universe), there’s really no better way to play them.

But I grew up with the Superman of Christopher Reeve and Richard Donner. My Batman is the Chandler archetype of Kevin Conroy and Paul Dini, “neither tarnished nor afraid.” They’re characters who fight the darkness because they still believe in the light. I miss that kind of hero.

Which brings us to the hero of this post. The Earth’s most constant defender. “The one, the only, and the best.”

Of course, The Doctor. Continue reading

Another Last Christmas

One of the many joys of Series 9 of Doctor Who was the way it kept confounding expectations. Just when you thought you knew where the show would take the characters – and you – it thwarted you, and them. (One of my favorite examples was “Before the Flood.” When a Part 1 ends with your main character turned into a ghost, the last thing you expect to see at the beginning of Part 2 is that same main character playing an electric guitar and going on about Beethoven. But it was PERFECT.)

By now, we all know this season ended with Twelve losing Clara, getting her back, and finally letting her go. Together, those three episodes put him, her, and us through an emotional wringer. So it would make sense that the Christmas special would lighten up and allow all of us to enjoy a holiday romp.

And it would also make sense that Steven Moffat would confound us once again. Love or hate him, it’s why we keep watching him.

Instead, he gave us exactly what we wanted. And needed.

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A Thing Is Not Beautiful Because It Lasts

Everybody knows that everybody dies. And nobody knows it like the Doctor. But I do think that all the skies of all the worlds might just turn dark if he ever, for one moment, accepts it.

-River Song

That’s been the constant theme in Series 9 of Doctor Who. He’s the Doctor, and he saves people.

He’s the one who spends all his lives raging against the dying of the light. He’s the one who would tear the entire universe apart to save just one friend.

But what would happen if he really had to?

The answer takes up three episodes, and it brings an incredible season to a beautiful finish.
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Found and Lost

In retrospect, this episode might have been doomed from the beginning.

Any episode that came after Peter Capaldi’s classic performance in “The Zygon Inversion” (which I’m still thinking about today) was going to suffer by the mere fact of its juxtaposition. So you can’t fault Doctor Who for choosing such a radically different episode to follow it.

But radically different doesn’t always equate to good. And “Sleep No More” suffers less from the juxtaposition than from one fatal gimmick.

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Peter Capaldi’s Master Class

Every Doctor has those moments that define him. That reveal him, his values and ideals. That show he’s worthy of the name.

Of course, they’re also the moments where the actors prove themselves worthy. William Hartnell letting go of his only family. Tom Baker asking “Do I have the right?” David Tennant wrestling with his conscience so many times.

Peter Capaldi’s first series, of course, gave us a perfect I Am The Doctor moment with that speech in “Flatline.” It was that stand-up-and-squee moment we’d been waiting for all season, and for a little while it might have been the Twelfth Doctor’s defining moment.

Until now. Until a scene so powerful, a performance so perfect, that Capaldi needs only three words to break your heart.

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The Boundary And The Price Of Immortality

The last time I was here to review an episode of Doctor Who (too long ago, for which I apologize), it was a really good day. “The Girl Who Died” was another high point for Series 9, and for co-writer Jamie Mathieson, and at this point I can’t be the only one who’d like to see him back with another script or two every season.

But the show should always keep room for new talent. And so the second part of Ashildr’s story was written by Catherine Tregenna, a Torchwood veteran working on her first Doctor Who script. Given her experience, I’m surprised and a little disappointed that it took so long to have her on the show.

And given the story she crafted, I really hope it won’t take so long to bring her back.
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I’ve Just Seen A Face

There are times when it’s very hard to write about Doctor Who.

Especially this season, one of the best in YEARS. A season when most episodes have been so good that it’s a real challenge to come up with a review that doesn’t consist almost entirely of “HOLY CRAP” and “OMG” and “SQUEEEEEEE!”

But episodes like “The Girl Who Died” make that a great problem to have.

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