Saturday, August 6, 2011


I know I haven't been on here in a while - not like there's really much reason to do so, since we're on summer hiatus at the mo' - but I just got a Tumblr and I am so deeply fantastically in love with it/the whole Tumblr system that I'm deciding to switch over.


It's my personal Tumblr, so I'll be reblogging miscellaneous shit as well as Doctor Who/Torchwood shit, but it also allows for text blogging so to keep things simple I'll put my reviews on there from now on. Follow me! (If you want.)

VWORPing out,


Sunday, June 5, 2011

In which I review Rebel Flesh and Almost People

(Not that anyone actually cares, because my review is so bloody late. Sorry about that, reason is in the post below this one.)

So this'll be shorter than usual, but that's because I didn't really give a shit about the plot in this two-parter since it was all so obviously just a setup for tomorrow night (EDIT: last night, which I have not watched yet but SRSLY I AM ON IT RIGHT AFTER I POST THIS). Seriously. Something happened and blah blah blah clones are just like humans blah blah find our own humanity blah blah FLESH SPIDER blah. If there was anything about the plot that held my attention and made me care, it was the Doctor-Amy-Rory threads culminating in the big reveal of Amy as Flesh and the final cliffhanger. For real, that entire team and their Gangers could have dropped into the acid vat and bubbled away and I would have given exactly zero fucks.

But I promised I would review these two, and so here goes. Besides, these episodes weren't all bad...apart from their central plots, anyway. I'll start with the good bits.

So the cinematography in these episodes - Rebel Flesh in particular - was nothing short of gorgeous.

There was also some great acting, both in expected and unexpected places. Smith shone as both True Doctor and Flesh Doctor, being truly creepy in his "Flesh" Doctor role, although I'll have more to say about the ethics of that later when I'm in bitch mode. (This is nice mode, in case you couldn't tell.) Other shoutouts go to Mark Bonnar ("Jimmy") who gets it just for this expression:

Also Rory, just for this.

Finally, the plot threads that led to the culminating cliffhanger were done very nicely, I think. Though Amy being a Ganger all along was not the biggest twist ever - when people on the Internet are guessing it barely five minutes after the first part has aired, you know the Moff's not up to his usual standards - but I'm being overly harsh there, since it made up for whatthefuckery by being done EXTREMELY well. Eleven's instructions to "breathe" and "push" finally made sense, and the final scene of Amy in labour was lovely and creepy. Very, very well done.

Sadly, nice mode ends here.

Those were pretty much all the things I liked about this two-parter, and most of them fell into the second part. The main thing that bugged me about this story was the fact that out of the entire factory team, there was not one single person I cared about. Seriously, Unconvincing Revolutionary and Grey Hair With Son and Like Adelaide Brooks but More Annoying With A Stupid Smirk and The Fourth One could have all just bubbled away in an acid pit - with their Gangers - and I would not have cared one bit. And that never bodes well.

But the weird thing about this episode is, in spite of the horribly cliched clone/humanity storyline, it could have been good. At times, it actually was good. But every time it appeared to be somewhat engaging, the mood was ruined with clunky, heavy-handed writing. Ganger Jennifer's line about "the eyes are always the last to go" seemed like it could lead into a clue about how the Flesh could come back from dissolution, but instead ended up being a stilted, uninspiring revolutionary speech with all that "WHY? WHY?!" bullshit. And her constant reference to little Jennifer in her red welly boots made me want to go NO, NO, THAT ANECDOTE DID NOTHING FOR ME THE FIRST TIME YOU TOLD IT, THERE'S NO NEED FOR YOU TO REFERENCE IT AT ALL LET ALONE MULTIPLE TIMES. And Jimmy/Ganger Jimmy's conversation about their son was almost, almost effective but just stopped short and augh I'm raging now so I'm going to stop.

Basically, if I had to sum my frustration up in a nutshell: The acting was good. With the exception of Miranda, who seemed to have a case of Marthaitis (aka "I only have one facial expression") with that goddamn smirk, all the factory worker characters were portrayed well. But they could have done so much more. Sarah Smart, in particular, could have been far better used instead of being stuck in her abortive revolutionary role that sent shivers down absolutely no one's spine.

And speaking of writing? The plot holes. Holy GOD, the plot holes. To start with - though this isn't a plot hole per se rather than something that just pissed me off - why, WHY did "Ganger" Doctor shove BOTH Rory and Amy? This may be a small thing, I don't know, but I don't see what purpose he had in pretending to be violent and unstable. At all. Even the whole stupid social-experiment thing he was trying to pull on Amy ("oh look, all along you didn't know who was who, THAT JUST GOES TO SHOW HOW HUMAN WE BOTH REALLY ARE") doesn't justify him being a complete asshole to her in that one scene. I just don't get it. What purpose did that seeming bipolarity serve? How was that lackluster Deus Ex Machina "here's an oniony red cure for you and woop de doo the TARDIS automatically stabilizes Gangers hooray and cookies for everyone" cobbled-together ending supposed to make us feel anything other than "cool, they've been shipped off to go fight the evil Space Slave Corporations, let's get on to the real plot now"?

Also, why this. Just...why.

Anyway, it would appear that once more I have to stop before I rage all over everything. Let me just conclude with this: it was predictable, it was aggravating, and Eleven was pretty much my absolutely least favourite person in the world for parts of it. When you actively dislike the Doctor, as a character, there is something very very wrong.

So in conclusion, my scores for each part go like this:

Verdict for Rebel Flesh: 2/5
Verdict for Almost People: 3.5/5 (just because of the last fifteen minutes and the cliffhanger, really)
But fuck all of that, MID-SERIES FINALE TOMORROW NIGHT LAST NIGHT (or next Saturday night, except I can't watch it on TV because I'm going out for my birthday and am anticipating being passed out on the floor of a dive bar with my hair on fire. Yes, at 8pm. What?)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

A heads-up, and some shameless self-promotion

First off, I'm going out of town this weekend, so you're gonna have to wait on a Rebel Flesh review till sometime Sunday night/Monday afternoon. I won't be able to watch it till then either, so I'm gonna be staying FAR away from spoilery places (read: the whole of Tumblr, and half the Internet).

[EDIT AS OF MAY 24TH: I'm actually going to wait to do a review until I can do Rebel Flesh/Almost People together. The Almost People is showing in North America only next weekend (June 4th) so I should have a review of both parts up by June 5/6th. The reason for this delay is twofold: firstly, I've got a ton of writing projects lined up for the next little while and I need to use all my time - when I'm not working my full-time job - to plan them out and get my deadlines sorted, and though writing these reviews doesn't take too long in the grand scheme of things, it eats up a good four hours or so per episode. Secondly, from what I hear of this episode (I haven't gotten to watch it yet) there's some pretty hardcore cliffhangers and it would just be far easier for me to condense both into one post. Sorry for the delay. You will see a post by June 6th at the latest, I promise.]

Secondly, you guys have seen the rants-interspersed-with-pictures that I like to call my episode reviews, but did you know I also write things? Like, fiction things? There's an online community on the Pointless Waste of Time forums that encourages and promotes creative writing in many forms. Well, a while ago some of us - me and about 20 incredibly talented writers and artists - decided to come together and try to create something bigger than ourselves. And voila, we created the Wordplague publishing association and its first book, The Four Humours: A Collection. This is a collection of short stories, with illustrations, loosely grouped under the theme of the four humours of ancient medicine (and there's a Wikipedia link for your pleasure, should you be wondering exactly what the hell I'm talking about).

It's put together from specially selected stories (one of which was mine!) that were entered into the PWoT Forum's themed writing contests over the past few months - a series of snapshots into different lives, different universes, and different experiences. There are stories about redemption, stories about love, stories which started with nothing more than a five-word prompt. It contains writing and art by some of the most talented people I know, who decided to do this without pay or (much) accolade. Without pay, you ask? Yup. All proceeds of the book - which you can get for only $2.99 USD, by the way - are going to Kiva Microloans, a programme that loans donated money to developing countries and then reloans it once the recipients have managed to pay it back. In that way the loan money circulates throughout the global South, whooping poverty's ass with every reloan.

Right now the book is available only in ebook form, but can be read through a Kindle application on your computer if you don't happen to have an ebook reader of your own. The hard copy should be coming out soon. As you know, I don't often do self-promotion, but I'm hugely excited about this and it's for a great cause, so here are the links should you wish to buy: 

Thanks for taking the time to read this, you guys. It means a lot. Regular DW programming should resume when I'm back from my trip. As always, happy watching...and, if you choose to buy Four Humours, happy reading as well.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

In which I review The Doctor's Wife

I'm making noises at the TV, there's a piece of paper with almost-unintelligible blog notes floating around the house, and Rory's dead again. Must be Saturday.

If you've already seen this episode (and you should have; I don't know what you'd be doing in a spoiler-filled review otherwise) you know how my squee-fest is likely to go. Because this, I believe, was one of the rare episodes where everyone agrees on the good parts. But I'll go over them anyway.

So, first off, the set. The set blew my mind. I could post caps of it for days. 

Hehe, it's a washing machine.

...Okay, yeah, don't worry, I'm done now.

The idea of a TARDIS junkyard was absolutely brilliant. Given the "love letter from a fanboy" theme that pervaded the entire episode, I'm sort of half expecting there to be little throwbacks to classic Who among all the junk if I look closely enough, like an I Spy Doctor Who Edition. 


Next, the plot. I don't have much experience with Neil Gaiman, but I have read Anansi Boys, so I knew a little about his whimsical-mixed-with-touches-of-creepy style of writing. Still though, I was blown away. The plot and setting had just the right amount of suspension of disbelief - we're outside the universe, but in a bubble universe, in the universe's sinkhole, but not really - mixed in with some truly amazing storytelling.

House, as the villain, was rather anticlimactic - the whole "I'm going to kill you now! Yes, now! Definitely now!" shtick got old after a while - and I was slightly disappointed with the cop-out of Nephew the Ood, but since this was really more of a character-based story, I didn't mind that much. And whatever House lacked as a believable threat toward the end, he more than made up for with his deliciously creepy way of playing with Amy's head (and possibly on a few of her deepest insecurities).

Oh hey, dead Rory, haven't seen you in a week.
The anticipation of finding Time Lords and the horrifying realization of the patchwork Auntie and Uncle were some really great moments, not to mention Smith's perfectly portrayed combination of disgust and heartbreak upon his realization that the Time Lords he thought he would find (and, possibly, make amends with) were long dead.

Speaking of the acting, everyone in Series 6 has been doing such a phenomenal job that I can't believe I once used to sit through Freema "I have two facial expressions" Agyeman. Suranne Jones takes the (well deserved) cake as Idris/TARDIS; a lot of people have compared her to Helena Bonham Carter in this role, but I think that's unfair to her own unique abilities. Matt Smith was again on fine form, with his tears at the end coming as quite a shock to viewers who haven't seen the Doctor cry since the Ten days. Wonderful combination of sorrow at the loss of the TARDIS' physical body, as well as wonder at the complexity of her existence. Well done.

And, of course, Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill - though for once, this wasn't an Amy-and-Rory centric episode - shone when they were needed. I've already mentioned the haunting creepiness of Amy's hallucinations in the TARDIS corridor, but one of my favourite moments of this episode was Amy's and the Doctor's conversation about his desire for forgiveness from his people. Because of course, though Eleven doesn't show it that much, he's still got the aching emotional wounds of his past. Knowing this, Amy briskly asks, "What do you need from me?" because she knows that he won't rest until he's found his fellow Time Lords, no matter what state they're in. And she is going to help him any way she can. In about two minutes and a handful of lines, we saw the extent of the bond between them.

"You want to be forgiven." "Don't we all?"
 Finally, the lines. Oh, the lines. Though many of them were delivered FAR too fast for me to catch (seriously, this should have been a full hour) nearly every single bit of dialogue was quotable in an "I'd totally put this as my Facebook status if I were the kind of person who put quotes in her Facebook status" sort of way. Some of my favourites (these may not be exact, they're just the way I remember them):
- "I'm a madman with a box without a box."
- "Did you wish really hard?"
- "Fear me. I've killed all of them". (Of COURSE Gaiman wrote the most awesome line in the series trailer.)
- Something about people being "bigger on the inside".
- "Come on, sexy." (Cue millions of ovaries exploding.)
- "It's not impossible so long as we're alive."
- "Another Ood I failed to save." (I like the RTD callback there.)

All in all, though this episode wasn't perfect (as I said, I wasn't overly impressed with House as the villain, though Michael Sheen's voice work was superb; also, Ood fan that I am, I felt that Nephew's end was rather anticlimactic) it was a stunningly executed love letter from one of the biggest Who fanboys out there, containing enough callbacks and in-jokes to warm a fan's heart, while also spinning a brand-new and exhilarating story. If I could describe it in one word, it would be: Magical. Truly magical. And so, though I usually only reserve five star ratings for episodes that have absolutely no discernible flaws, I'll make an exception here.

Verdict: 5/5

Predictions, theories, and other tidbits:
- No eyepatch lady this time. Huh. I was starting to expect her appearing every episode, like the crack in Series 5.
- Did anyone else emit a screech of Douglas Adams nerd joy when Rory described the junkyard as "the scrapyard at the end of the universe"? Is that a bit of a stretch? Whatever, it still made me insanely happy.
- I've mentioned before that I'm quite a TARDIS nerd - I've always been taken with the idea of exploring this madly wonderful box - and so this episode was especially fulfilling for me. What's your DW nerd niche? What would you like to see explored in future episodes?
- I thought this was rather a nice (intentional or unintentional) touch of cinematography, with the wedding rings: 

- "The only water in the forest is the river." Well isn't that purposely vague and prophetic.
- So the whole thing about the TARDIS eating people, which I thought was just a ridiculous quirk of the TV movie's shitty script? Yeah. It actually does happen. Which is kind of awesome.
- And finally, the score. Holy crap, Murray Gold is outdoing himself this series. I cannot wait to download that shit.

Till next time!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

In which I review Curse of the Black Spot

This week's episode centred on the TARDIS gang's adventures on a pirate ship cursed by a Siren which was actually an emergency medical hologram from a spaceship in a parallel dimension which was parked in the exact same space of the pirate ship and she used reflective surfaces to come through to the pirate ship's dimension and take its crew to the parallel-dimensional spaceship to "cure" them of being human but that "cure" actually meant they had to stay on the spaceship forever.

In my opinion, let NO ONE say that this was just a filler episode, because I enjoyed it the most out of any episode so far this series.

Yeah, I did just say that.

The thing I loved about this episode (which basically encompasses the entire 45 minutes of it) was that it combined every single thing I love about Doctor Who - every single reason why I watch this show. A rollicking plot that made you unexpectedly shed a tear or two? Check. Real, multidimensional characters that made you feel for them without cramming pathos down your throat? Check. A refreshingly (and surprisingly) sci-fi take on a human legend? Check. Moments of ridiculous yet warm humour? Check. And finally, an ending that somehow managed to be even more than the sum of its incredible parts? Check.

So, let's go through all of these (I don't really feel like doing a summary-type review, since every part of this was just such a joy that I'd be squeeing delightedly to you all the way through and there isn't really any overreaching arc that's been newly introduced).

First, plot. Loved it. It was absurd, yes, but in the best Doctor Who tradition: makes sense in the logic of the Whoniverse, doesn't make the slightest bit of sense in any other sort of thought process. Why did the Siren choose reflective surfaces to come between dimensions? How did she recognize Amy's wedding ring as a sign of her responsibility for Rory? Why does it matter? Unlike plot glitches which weaken the integrity of the central story or the reasoning behind certain characters' actions, these questions are ones that don't have to be answered in the Whoniverse - and in fact, can't be answered without taking some of the "fi" out of "sci-fi".

Besides, you're watching a show where a hologram travels between dimensions from a spaceship to a pirate ship. I think you've got to suspend your disbelief a little.
Second, characters. What really reeled me in about this episode was the real, believable relationships between the Captain and his son, between Amy and Rory (yes I know there's nothing new there, but there were added layers of depth), between the Doctor and his companions, and between the Doctor and the Captain. Though the Captain and Toby were new characters, brought to the screen for a brief 45-minute life, they felt like people to me, not plot devices.

Also, bromance. Just sayin'
 And I know people feel a little fed up with the constant Amy-Rory business ("I love you!" "No you don't, you love the Doctor/this space tramp/your future clone/etc!" "NO RLY I LOAAAF U" *kisses*) but I think it was different here. First off, Amy never really thought Rory loved the Siren more than her, she was just miffed. Second, this was a really well-done reversal in which Amy was the one saving Rory, Amy was the one holding strong for him. And in a lovely way too: while the Doctor was still the "hero" of the episode, figuring out the twist with Time Lord smarts and logicking the general solution, Amy saved Rory in a way that only fallible humans would use: good old CPR. I stand by my opinion; I thought this was done beautifully. Not in a way that tried to go OH LOOK RORY'S DEAD FOREVER, because of course no one would believe that, but in a way that cemented their relationship even further. There's no rule that says relationships can't deepen over a series, and when you're travelling in the TARDIS they're likely to deepen over you both saving each other's lives. So in conclusion, no I didn't think it was cliche or harping on a tired theme, I thought it was a perfect way of showing how Amy's and Rory's relationship (as well as both of theirs with the Doctor) is strengthening over the course of shared adventures.


I totally didn't post this picture because it had Rory's naked back, oh no.
And now, the sci-fi. Anything even vaguely Trek-reminiscent tickles my heart, and this...

...set it full on gasping and choking. BIOBEDS. WITH AN EMH. I CAN'T I JUST CAN'T EVEN. (Okay, this part of my review is somewhat biased.)

The humour is pretty self-explanatory, I think. Nice one-liners by Smith as always, good riffing on the Captain, etc.

And finally, the ending. Moffat, for all his twisted nightmarish visions, is at heart a Good Fairy.

Just imagine a tiara and a pair of wings on that. I don't feel like Photoshopping.
His theme is "everybody lives"; we've seen it in Empty Child/Doctor Dances, in Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead, Pandorica Opens/Big Bang, and again here. When River says, "That impossible man...He just can't give in", I feel she's talking about Moffat just as much as she's talking about the Doctor. Here, yes, the crew didn't exactly get off scot-free - being trapped in a spacegoing version of the Flying Dutchman's ship is a bit of a bittersweet ending - but they're alive, they're together, and the Captain's with his son travelling through the stars. It's an ending that's not a perfect reset, but offers us a reaffirmation of life anyway. That's why I loved it.

So all in all, though it may be an unpopular opinion, I stand by it: this episode made me happier than any DW episode has made me in a long long time, there was nothing I did not like about it, and it embodied all the reasons why I love this show. And that's why...

Verdict: 5/5

Yep, I went there.
Predictions, theories, and other tidbits:
- Don't think I mentioned it above, but Eleven was once again in fine form, being the Sherlock in a bowtie and logicking out the solution while constantly revising it (Blood! No, injury! Water! No, reflective surfaces!). Loved it.
- Quick Matt Smith's Expression Appreciation Moment: when he's smiling at Toby, you really see how warmly he appreciates the boy's courage, how paternal he feels without overdoing the "I'm really really really old" thing:

- Interesting Midas-like moral here: give up the gold to find your true treasure. If this were a class paper I'd embark on a Marxist analysis of this episode. Fortunately this is not class and I do not have to bore you out of your skulls.
- Eyepatch woman shows up again! I'm not going to try theorizing about her because I don't even know where to begin. Evidently she's looking in from some other dimension or plane, and insinuating that Amy's dreaming all of this (or remembering it, or hallucinating it, whatever). But yeah, nice nod to the arc there.
- Was semi-expecting an "Amy gets hooked by the Siren" bit. I suppose girl-on-girl is still a little too risque for 6pm Britain, though. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad it didn't happen, but after all the sex jokes in "Space" and "Time", I would not have been surprised if they'd gone there.
- Finally, let's also have a Matt Smith's Hat Appreciation Moment.

That's all for now. Agree? Disagree? Let me know; I'd love to hear your thoughts. Other than that, till next week. Happy squeeing!

Monday, May 2, 2011

In which I review Day of the Moon

(Here's the review! Sorry for the delay, I was moving out of my apartment this weekend and lugging around boxes isn't exactly conducive to blogging. Better late than never, right?)

Y'all should know by now, but...

The great thing about Steven Moffat, as a writer, isn't his mastery of plot twists. It isn't his ability to sprinkle humour into a situation that otherwise has you soiling your fresh laundry. No, it's his ability to create believable characters who reach out and grab you with almost painful strength. In a world where writers like Joss Whedon and RTD (on his good days, anyway) are given well-deserved recognition as "character" writers, I think people don't always recognize that Moffat does quite a comparable job of making you care about whom you're watching.

And that's what grabbed me about Day of the Moon. Even more so than the plot twists and the answered (and freshly raised) questions. It was the look on Rory's face as he listened to Amy's voice over the recorder. So yeah, actor of the episode award? Arthur Darvill.

Anyway, there's the sappy shit out of the way. Hold on to your hats boys and girls and Princess Beatrice, and let's dive into the glorious clusterfuck that was this week's Doctor Who episode. this a thing now, are we trying to set a record for how quickly we can kill the main characters each episode? The hunting and "killing" of Amy, Rory, and River sets up a heightened tone of suspense for the conclusion of the two-parter - if such a thing is even possible when your suspense has been building up ALL WEEK LONG - though let's be honest here, we all knew they were just fine and dandy. Why they had to set up this "chase" scenario with Canton, though, is something I'm still unclear on. When the Doctor and his gang can get Tricky Dicky to personally arrive and back up their mission with a quick message, and when they've got the TARDIS to jaunt around in, why would they go to the trouble of setting up such an elaborate chase-and-capture-and-imprisonment scenario? Maybe I'm just being thick, but I don't get what the need was for all that.

Unless it was to show how fantastically sexy Matt Smith looks with a prison beard, in which case, hearty approval.
Anyway. Karen and the Babes make my heart smile when they rescue River by opening the doors to the - yep - SWIMMING POOL. And then there's an absolutely fantastic bit with the gang all in the TARDIS, explaining their mission to Canton. I've wanted to see the effects of Silence encounters from an "outside" perspective for a while, and this was brilliant. The power of suggestion, the sudden flashing of the recorder in Canton's palm, all these disjointed jumps did the trick of making the Silence far creepier than they could ever be in actual appearance. (Aside: The Doctor reminds me of a far younger Q, handing out gadgets for the mission, except without Bond ruining the shit out of his toys. Anyone else see that? Just me then? Okay.)

Also, the Silence can't be remembered even if you look at pictures or video of them, which makes sense. Was wondering when they'd bring out that picture from Amy's phone.

So then Amy and Canton decide to go visit a deliciously creepy haunted house an orphanage to find the girl in the spacesuit. Seriously guys, I get it: there's lightning, there's a horror-movie villain orphanage manager who sounds like Cleveland from Family Guy, there's "GET OUT" scrawled in the wall in what looks like blood...I get that this is a BAD BAD PLACE. No really. I do. 

Amy goes off to "investigate upstairs", which is classic horror-movie code for "get lost in a smorgasbord of terrors and possibly die or disappear". Moffat, you're just being self-indulgent now. But I will admit, this part was done extremely well. Once more we see the effects of the Silence from Amy's perspective: the rapidly multiplying tally marks and the flashing message from herself culminate in a simply delicious climax where she looks up and finds the HOSHIT IT'S A NEST OF GODDAMN SILENCE AUGH RUN. 

Meanwhile, River and Rory (and Dick, apparently) have to go and rescue the Doctor, who's been caught tampering with Apollo 11. I decide that Arthur Darvill looks delicious with glasses. 

What? Everyone's allowed a little cheesecake.
But that's not the interesting part right now - and you KNOW things must be crazy if "the Doctor getting arrested for tampering with a spaceship and then being rescued by the American President" doesn't qualify as "interesting" in relation to everyone else. In a Truman-Show-esque turn of events, Amy sees a woman with an eyepatch remarking that she's "just dreaming", who then disappears. Before she can spend time freaking out about this, she finds the spacesuit girl's room - WHICH HAS A PICTURE OF HER WITH A BABY, WHAT - and then the girl herself confronts Amy. Whose gigantic cliffhangery shot apparently missed. 

Look, yeah, I know shooting is harder than it seems, and it's more plausible that she'd have missed, but when a gunshot is one of the huge cliffhangers from Part 1, you generally tend to expect that that gunshot will have had some effect. I guess what I'm saying is, I don't think this part was done terribly well. PLEASE DO NOT PELT ME WITH ROTTEN FRUIT I STILL LOVE THE MOFF WITH ALL MY HEART I SWEAR

And then Canton - who frankly should not have let Amy out of his sight, doesn't he know that this orphanage is Not A Nice Place, but whatever - hears Amy scream at the sight of approaching Silence, finds himself confronted by another one, and unleashes The One-Liner of the Year: "Welcome to America." My Canadian heart feels oddly like humming the Star-Spangled Banner. Oh, and apparently the Silence can be shot? 

All that's missing was a "...motherfucker".
Amy has disappeared, leaving behind only her subcutaneous recorder. And this is where Arthur Darvill wins his Actor of the Episode award. I'm not going to blather on about this subplot because it was pretty self-explanatory (and served the purpose of FINALLY putting to rest all the Amy/Doctor shippers), so this is all I'm going to say:


Also, apparently Rory remembers being the Centurion. Tumblr should be happy.

While Amy's still stuck wherever she is, the rest of the gang go back to the warehouse and try to puzzle out the origins of the little girl - who apparently has been raised by the Silence, who by the way influenced humanity to go to the Moon because they needed a spacesuit. After a bit more puzzling out, the TARDIS jets to the rescue of Amy, who's on some sort of operating table, being told by the Silence that they "do her honour" and that "her part will be over soon", and then the Doctor blathers on (in one of Eleven's best, and longest, monologues) about exactly how he's going to bring down the Silence, and feeds a clip that Canton recorded of the injured Silent saying that humanity should "kill us all on sight" into the live feed of the moon landing, thus ensuring that humans will be subliminally indoctrinated to wipe out the Silence should they decide to stay on Earth.

Did that paragraph make your head spin? If it didn't, you're either A - the Moff himself or B - some sort of insane alien. If B, please leave your name and number after the beep.

River Song: Making everything look sexy since 2008.
This is where my notes sort of disintegrate into incoherent, profanity-laced nonsense.

So, having played a dazzling game of laser-screwdriver-shoot-em-up with the Silence in their Lodger TARDIS, the gang whisk off once more to drop River off at Stormcage and have further adventures which totally won't end up with another encounter with the Silence oh no. River, in a continuing series of "Here's Where I Make Everyone Cry", kisses the Doctor for the first time by his perspective - which, of course, means it's the last time by hers. Poor River.

Canton fulfills my prediction, and Karen and the Babes go off to have their adventures, but not before the Doctor determines that Amy's womb is the new timey-wimey Schrodinger's Box (bad joke? yes? okay, sorry) and we cut to the now-abandoned spacesuit girl BLOODY REGENERATING in an alleyway. 


So yeah, there's that. Overall, I did really enjoy this episode. I liked the balance of good ol' Who intelligent problem-solving and action, I thought the Doctor's idea for getting the Silence off Earth was rather genius, and I melted for Rory. But did I think it matched up to the impossibly high bar set by Part One? Not quite. For one thing, the pacing was far too frenzied in parts; the imprisonment scenario from the beginning still makes no sense to me, and I don't think it'll be explained later; the whole Amy-shooting-the-girl thing wasn't done especially well; and it just felt too rushed. A month ago I was wondering what sort of introductory story could possibly take up a whole two-parter, and now I'm thinking they should have brought back the four-part format of classic Who for this one. The other unanswered questions I'm fine with - who's the little girl, who's the eyepatch woman, what's gonna happen to the Silence - because I know they'll come back. But these things just seem like glitches.

Then again, I thought Eleven and Amy's bit in the forest (in Time of Angels) seemed out of place, and that came back in a spectacular fashion. So for now, I'm trusting the Moff to explain some of the less-obvious unexplained things from this story. That's why my rating is:

4/5 (conditional on the Moff explaining certain things, like the chase-and-imprisonment business; if that doesn't happen, 3.5/5)

Predictions, theories, and other tidbits:
- You know how I said last episode had the feel of a movie? This episode had the feel of a mystery story and horror movie by turns. For better or worse, I'm not sure quite yet...part of me is nostalgic for the more whimsical days of Who, but as long as they can make this format work, I'm on board.
- The Bowtie! thread has an interesting discussion on whether or not the Doctor's actions could be construed as genocide, starting with this post. Have a look, if you're interested.
- The Doctor in the "perfect prison". Sound familiar?

- Dear Twitter/Tumblr/certain sections of Who fandom: SHUT UP ALREADY about the Doctor fathering Amy's baby, or the Silence impregnating Amy with the Doctor's sperm, or all the other theories of that ilk. I refuse to believe that. I think that, if the girl is Amy's daughter - which is a theory I will hold to - the explanation for her regenerative capabilities might very well be either something relating to Amy's "time head" joke, or something else altogether. But the baby is NOT Eleven's. I promise you I will eat my laptop if that happens. 
- Dear Moff: Please don't make that happen, I don't think my laptop would digest very well.
- EDIT: I forgot about how Creepy Orphanage Guy seems to think it's 1967. Symptom of insanity? Or something more?
Anyway, till next time. Farewell, and happy squeeing.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

In which I review The Impossible Astronaut

OH, MY, GOD. Oh my giddygodstrousers. Oh my pants. Oh my fez Stetson. 

There have been times when I have been less than impressed with the writing/plots under Moffat's reign. This was not one of them.

If you haven't watched this yet, DO NOT READ ANY FURTHER. Because as always, this review will be full of...

So, as I was watching this episode, I made notes for blag-reference-purposes later. I think you should see them. They convey everything I wanted to say, pretty much. 

But if you somehow didn't understand my train of thought from those extremely-coherent pieces of paper, then let me flesh them out for you.

What struck me first of all about this - pretty much immediately - was the fact that Doctor Who no longer looks like a television show to me. It looks like a movie. Part of this is due no doubt to the amazing Monument Valley setting, which achieves a grandeur that no green-screen could ever accomplish. But it's in the little things too: certain quirks of cinematography, timings, and so forth really made me feel like I was watching a movie (and also made me really want to hijack a movie theatre somewhere to watch it on the big screen). If it wasn't clear from the trailers, Moffat and the lads/lasses are really letting us know: this series has MONEY, and it is USING IT. In a good way.

So Amy and Rory have been taking a break from the Doctor to have lots of honeymoon sex get used to married life, but the Doctor's mucking about through history trying to get their attention, probably because he's bored and wants an adventure. 

They get a mysterious invite from him with a set of coordinates and a date/time. But they're not the only ones - River gets it too in Stormcage (which reminds me, if they're so used to her escaping, why don't they put her in a bloody forcefield or something? Your maximum security needs major work, people), a presently-unknown man named Canton Delaware III gets one, and so does...the present version of the Doctor, who misses his future self's death and funeral at the hands of a mysterious astronaut who comes out of a lake. This leads me to suspect the timing in his envelope was different than the timing in the other three envelopes...but why?

Well, for sadistic shits and giggles, according to Rory.

So the future Doctor has a picnic with his companions, all the while acting like the magician who's about to reveal a bunny to the anticipating audience. Then with no warning, he sees the Astronaut come out of the lake, tells everyone not to interfere, and then goes and gets shot. 

Right away we can tell this is not the Doctor we know. The Doctor we know would never, ever be so callous to his companions - unless there were something truly massive at stake. Smith, here, does a truly excellent job - his portrayal of the Future Doctor is slightly "off", and we only find out why once the plot unfolds. I hope you know what I mean. I can't phrase it much better than that.

After this super-compacted emotional rollercoaster, the companions go back to the diner and...out comes Present Doctor, completely nonchalantly, looking for a straw.

He likes fizz, you see.

And now we hop in the TARDIS. This was the part where I truly fell in love with this episode. Because we've just seen the Doctor (well, Future Doctor) at his most secretive, and now there's an instant reversal: now the companions are the ones with the massive secret, and he's the one in the dark. And the Doctor, of all people, does not do well with being kept in the dark. Sometimes I think, in spite of the deep affection he has for his companions and friends across the galaxies, at heart he's still a cold intellectual; and what more do intellectuals desire than knowledge? And when this knowledge is kept from him, he turns coldly furious. The scene where he's interrogating River and Amy shows the power of the Doctor's menace better than any scene I can recall from new Who, except perhaps a couple Eccleston moments. 

Eleven is unimpressed with your shit.

And then - who's the one person who can bring him out of his fury? Why, Amy of course. When she swears on "fish fingers and custard", you can see the muscles relaxing in Smith's face. I know I've said it before, but I'll say it again: Bravo, Matt Smith. Bravo.

So we're off to 'Murcuh in 1969, the year of the moon landing, and the Doctor makes my heart sing by "cloaking" the TARDIS. Seriously, when my two fandoms come together, I can't even handle it. 

And then there's the scene in the Oval Office with gravelly-Nixon, Delaware, and the useless Feds and oh my god. Oh my god. This was easily one of the best parts of an absolutely stellar episode. For an entire scene the Doctor is the Doctor at his best: quick-thinking, manipulative, hilarious, and commanding. He gets the Americans to help him while insulting them at the same time. This is truly the essence of the Doctor: no matter where or when he is, he is THE authority in the room, and don't you forget it - not even you, you lowly terrestrial bureaucrats. 

"The legs, the nose, and Mrs. Robinson." "I hate you." "No you don't."
Anyway, he figures out a seemingly perplexing phone call in about the same amount of time that it takes Amy to go to the bathroom and get her shit almost wrecked by the Silence. I was expecting it, but I still screamed. 

The Silence tells Amy to tell the Doctor "what he must know, and what he must never know". Naturally, she assumes this means the facts about his death, though I believe it could be open to interpretation. Oh, and it also decides to zap a random woman with electricity. Why? "Joy", it says at first, before clarifying that it's the dead woman's name. I have to admit, this part left me a little lukewarm - the fact that they kill with zappy electricity just seems a little, I don't know, mundane to me. It's probably a side attraction from their real purpose, which is probably (knowing Moffat) supremely horrifying. And I would've found "Joy" creepier as a reason for killing rather than the victim's name, but I suppose it works.

One thing's for sure though: the voice. Holy shit, that voice. It's going to crop up in my nightmares, I just know it. That and the see-it-then-forget-it concept, which may not be the most original idea in the book, but is pretty damn terrifying nonetheless.

So Amy leaves the bathroom and, of course, forgets all about the Silence - but has a picture of it on her phone, which will no doubt come up later (probably when they bring out the tally marks).

The Doctor, meanwhile, has been his usual brilliant self and figured out where the child on the phone is. Off we go to the deserted warehouse in Florida, with a hilarious (if slightly overdone) sideshow of Delaware completely freaking the fuck out. I have to say, I did like how Rory "babysits" him - it does a good job of showing that Rory (though he is the "newest") has cemented his position as a companion.

I also like the idea of stolen human tech; it gives us a puzzle to work out - why would advanced aliens steal human technology? Here we also see Delaware humanized a bit: he tells Amy he was kicked out of the FBI because he wanted to marry, and Amy asks "So that's a crime?" Prediction: Delaware is gay. 

Slightly more obvious prediction: Smitthew is adorable.
Then River climbs down into a mysteriously fun-looking sewer, but not before exchanging very sexual banter with the Doctor. Seriously, someone please get those two a fire hose or a secluded soundproof room. The un-aging is also done pretty brilliantly - the River here is sexier and spunkier than the older, wiser River of Silence in the Library. And speaking of Silence in the Library, Alex Kingston shows her award-winning potential with a heartbreaking unknowing reference to her own death. 

"...and it's going to kill me."
And Rory and River find...the TARDIS from the Lodger! (Amidst some pants-shitting brief encounters with the Silence, of course.)

Meanwhile, aboveground, shit's going down in flames. We know that the Doctor would never refuse to listen to Amy unless something momentous was happening, but all the same she needs to demand his attention multiple times before she can tell him about his death. WAIT NO, SHE JUST TOLD HIM SHE WAS PREGNANT.


And then the Astronaut shows up, and it's a child, and AMY SHOOTS IT THE END.

Presenting: Steven Moffat, the king of unbelievably cruel cliffhangers. I don't know how I'm going to wait a week, you guys. I have no idea. 

Anyway, I can safely say, with the exception of Blink/Girl in the Fireplace/Series 1 and Series 5 finales, that I have not seen a better Doctor Who episode. And I have definitely never seen one as dark or compelling as this. Series 6 is off to a stellar start.

Rating: 4.5/5

Predictions, theories, and other tidbits:
- The Bowtie! thread on the Pointless Waste of Time forums has been tossing around a theory that the child Astronaut is River Song. Here's the discussion, if you're interested.
- When River tries to shoot the Astronaut and fails, she says quietly "of course not". Does she know who the Astronaut is? If it's herself, does she know that she obviously wouldn't be able to kill herself without starting a paradox? Whatever it is, she definitely knows more than she's always.
- This shot is gorgeous:

- I am seriously going to cry the next time I watch Silence in the Library. (WAIT. "Silence" in the Library? Really? Or could I be reading too much into this?)
- I think the Silence are mutated humans of some sort. Why? Well, they're pretty humanoid, and that's what makes their appearance so creepy, because they seem human but distorted. Also, their suits wouldn't make much sense to me otherwise.
- Also:

I wear a Stetson now. Stetsons are cool.

Now that we're into the new series I can finally structure this blog the way I intended it: weekly reviews plus whatever extraneous stuff I feel like posting. See you next weekend. Till then, happy squeeing, fellow Whovians.

EDIT/ADDENDUM: Apparently "bumpy wumpy" is the new "timey wimey". Should I rename my blog? I just can't keep up with the kids and their lingo.