Look Back in Anger – OR – My Thoughts on Series 8


Fuckin’ “Kill the Moon”, man. That was the episode that did it to me. In over 800 episodes, hundreds of audio stories and dozens of novels, that one, and that one alone, was such an insult to my intelligence that it nearly destroyed an entire season.

But let’s back up.

We all had such high hopes for Peter Capaldi. A darker Doctor is what we expected, and someone who could shake up our expectations for what the Doctor is. And boy, from the start, he delivered. Not only did we get the “Independent State of Eyebrows” speech, but we also got him maybe pushing a bad guy off a tower. The best case scenario is that he talked the bad guy into suicide.

But despite those scenes, “Deep Breath” just felt bloated and frankly not great. It was a decent 45 minute concept stretched into 75 minutes, and it showed. Plus, frankly, I never feel the need to see the Paternoster Gang ever again.

Then something fascinating happened, and we got that rarest of things: a good Dalek story. Previously, I could count those on one hand (“The Daleks”, “The Dalek Invasion of Earth”, “Genesis of the Daleks”, “Remembrance of the Daleks” and “Dalek”). Now I’ll have to grow an extra finger, because this one really was quite excellent.

From there we moved on to the surprisingly decent “Robots of Sherwood”, which really was far better than I had expected it to be. But then came “Listen”, which…I dunno. I got what they were going for, but it really just failed for me, and became the second stumble of the season.

But “Time Heist” was very good, and canonized Abslom Daak, Dalek-killer. It was a great little romp! Then we moved on to “The Caretaker”, which was flawed, but still very enjoyable.

But then…fuck. “Kill the Fucking Goddam Moon”…The one and only good thing about this story is that it gave Clara some much needed characterization in that it gave her some as opposed to her usual levels of none. But…Jesus. The science was terrible, and the ethical conundrum non-existent.

Still, we went on from there to “Mummy on the Orient Express”, which shouldn’t have worked, but did, and did a wonderful job of showing just how unpleasant Capaldi’s Doctor could be when he had to be. Sure, it was for a good reason, but yikes!

This was followed by “Flatline”, and I began to believe again. It felt like an older Moffat story, and I began to really hope he was back on track.

Then came the second-worst episode of the season, and one of the worst of the new series. Yes, kids, “Forest of the Night”, where somehow a global forest springs up overnight (even at the poles, the oceans and the desert), and then disappears quickly after protecting us from some sort of solar flare. We get hit by those periodically, by the way, and aside from some “fun with technology” antics, they don’t actually do much to our planet. Also, I fail to see how a global forest pumping highly-flammable oxygen into the atmosphere provides any real protection. Also, it smacks of Gaia Theory, and that concept can go suck a bag of dicks.

We wound up the season with the two-part Cybermen/Master (Mistress) stories. The first part was very excellent, and the second part existed! Oh, it wasn’t bad, but much of it didn’t make much sense (how did the Mistress get an army of Cybermen? If Danny Pink is did, wither Orson Pink?), and the bit with the Brig was more than a little twee. On the other hand, Danny’s revelation about his past, while a bit predictable, was still heart-wrenching, as I’m sure it’s a nightmare shared by every soldier and every cop. The eventual sacrifice Danny made at the end of the second part worked and worked well. The story also bid farewell, we hope, to Clara, who finally started to emerge as a character, but it was too late, too late.

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And so we look toward the future. We know Santa Claus will be paying a visit this Christmas (shades of “Iris Wildthyme and the Claws of Santa“, though probably with slightly less gin), and we know that a man named Frost is playing Santa, which is kind of magnificent.

Beyond that…series nine comes out sometime next year. We haven’t had any confirmation, to my knowledge, about who the showrunner will be, but I suspect Moffat. That’s a shame. He’s generally an excellent writer, and he’s done a lot of good for the show, but I think he’s burned-out, and it’s time to pass the reins off to someone else.

As for what I want to see in series nine…a series without Daleks would be nice. I’d like the Ice Warriors to come back, but only if they can keep their armor on. It would also be nice to see a return from an old companion, say Jo Grant, or perhaps the Doctor could visit Scotland and hang out with the Laird McCrimmon. And of course I want to see the Mistress again. She’s still a bit more over-the-top than I’d like (I really miss Delgado), but she’s quite entertaining.

And of course, I very much want to see Gallifrey come back. It’s been set up and teased. Now we need it to happen.

What do I not want to see? No more Clara. No more “dark fairy tales”. No more “Doctor Emo” type stories, where emotions rule the day, and the world is saved through the power of love. Less new series “flavor” and more old series.

But new-style or old, I’ll still watch it. Even if they don’t get Gallifrey back, even if Clara returns and brings Rose with her, even if the Master now regenerates into a penguin and changes his name to Frobisher, I’ll still watch it. Because I love Doctor Who, despite the problems, and there are many worse things than that.

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TV Review – Doctor Who – “Kill the Moon”


I’m occasionally disappointed in an episode of Doctor Who. The series has had some great stories over the decades, but they’ve also had things like “The Twin Dilemma” and “Love and Monsters”. These episodes are annoying, but at least they aren’t generally an insult to my intelligence.

Ladies and gentlemen, say hello to “Kill the Moon”.

It’s hard to put into words how much I disliked this story. The idea of something being “wrong” with the Moon is an interesting one, and the series generally does “base under siege” stories well, which is what I thought this story would be. I was incorrect.

Spoilers from here on out.

Instead of some interesting alien menace (webs? Bring on the Eight Legs, or the Yeti!), we get giant bacteria. We’re told that they’re single-celled organisms, which seems extremely unlikely given what they look like. But, you know, I could just about go with that, because ok. Doctor Who, for all its greatness, has always been more fiction than science.

But then we find out what’s really going on: the moon is, and has always been, a giant egg and there’s a creature inside it that’s about to hatch, and now it’s suddenly gaining a lot of mass, fucking with the tides and the like. I’m not sure exactly how that’s happening, because where is the mass coming from?

Anyhow, the world has sent up the last space shuttle and the last astronauts (also there are apparently no more satellites for some reason?), with 100 nuclear bombs to try and fix this problem. They don’t know the moon is really an egg, but once this is discovered, the bombs are rather conveniently enough to kill the creature inside the egg.

This then leads to a bizarre scene where Clara decides she can’t make up her mind about whether or not they should kill this creature, so she tells the people of Earth to decide by leaving their lights on or turning them off. This means only the people on the night side within her field of vision get a vote, but eh. The lights then turn off in large clusters, because apparently that’s how these things go.

Then after everyone votes to kill it, she overrides the vote at the last minute, the Doctor takes everyone off the moon and they all watch (and hear, somehow), from Earth as the moon hatches and some space thing flies away as the eggshell conveniently disintegrates, leaving no debris to fuck things up further. So now the Earth has no moon, but, hey, seconds later it leaves an egg of equal mass, because that’s how science works.

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As I said, this episode really, seriously is an insult to the intellect. As one of my friends said, there isn’t even any bad science so much as there is no science. Nothing about this story makes any sense.

And the ethical conundrum? Do you kill one (potentially) sentient lifeform in order to almost certainly save billions of certainly sentient lifeforms? Fuck and yes! It’s the only correct and ethical choice to make. It sucks, but there you are. Of course as we learn from the story it would have been the wrong choice to make, since the eggshell disintegrated and the creature laid a new moon that was the same mass as the old one, but, hey, I guess Clara and company should have just known that was going to happen! Or they should have just “trusted in the universe”, but that’s basically religion, and it can go suck a bag of dicks.

I really, really disliked this episode, as you can tell.

What made it truly annoying was the fact that the character stuff in here worked brilliantly! Courtney is now basically a companion (more than one story and a trip in the TARDIS), and her chemistry with Clara is excellent. It’s also nice to see that we have the potential for a situation where the companions are two Coal Hill teachers and one student.

I also really liked Clara having it out with the Doctor at the end. Shades of Tegan telling him it just wasn’t fun anymore. It was a good scene, and it’s always nice to have someone put the Doctor in his place when he needs it.

But nice those moments were, there were different and better ways to bring them about than what happened in this giant misstep of an episode. Hopefully what we get next week will be better. It’s hard to see how it could be worse.

Some Thoughts on “The Caretaker” and Other Recent Episodes


“Listen” was vexing, to begin with. I still don’t know how I feel about it, and I’ve had a couple of weeks to digest it. I’m still at least partly convinced that the kid at the end was the Master, not the Doctor, and that Danny Pink is the Master, too.

“Time Heist” was way easier to like.

“The Caretaker” I also enjoyed. Capaldi is turning in his usual excellent performance, and I very much liked the interplay between him and Danny. I especially appreciated that the “he’s an officer” conversation wasn’t played for laughs. It very easily could have been.

I also found Courtney to be an interesting character so far. She reminds me quite a bit of Ace, or rather, she did until she puked in the TARDIS. As far as I know, Ace never did that.

I also appreciated the little mention of River, though I am slightly irritated by the fact that the show has now staged an episode entirely at the Coal Hill School with no mention of Ian, Barbara or Susan. Come to that, how great would a cameo by William Russell have been? That said, I’m deeply happy that it took us this far into the season to get an episode that was set entirely on 21st century Earth.

So…there we go. Can’t wait for next week!

At Last, a Real Trailer!


Yay!

Want 15 Seconds of Nothing?


Then check out this trailer for the next season/series of Doctor Who.

To be fair, it does give us an air date of August. But we already kind of knew that, so I’m not terribly impressed. Still, it is what it is.

Sic Transit Kate O’Mara – 1939 – 2014


She has died, but the sneer lives on.

She has died, but the sneer lives on.

I sometimes make jokes that when anyone cancels out on appearances at the Gallifrey One convention, it means that they’re probably going to be dead shortly. This came up after that happened with Mary Tamm and a couple of other actors.

This year, Kate O’Mara, best known to Doctor Who fans for her role as the Rani, cancelled out on Gallifrey, and today we learned that she died at the age of 74.

O’Mara was born in Leicester in 1939. She began her career as a stage actress in 1963, the year Doctor Who first aired. She then went on to several appearances on British TV in shows such as Z-Cars and The Avengers.

O’Mara reached international fame when she started appearing on the American soap opera Dynasty, where she played the sister to Joan Collins’ character. She then went on to sci-fi fame by appearing in two stories for Doctor Who; both times playing the renegade Time Lord scientist, the Rani. She later reprised the role for the rather horrible 30th anniversary special, “Dimensions in Time”. Then in 1995 and 2003, she appeared in two episodes of Absolutely Fabulous, playing Paty’s older sister.

O’Mara was fairly active on Twitter, leaving behind one final Tweet on March 17.

“Thank you so much for your kind tweets. It’s both humbling and completely overwhelming to read all of your messages. Much Love x”.

She is survived by her son, Christopher, and her sister, actress Belinda Caroll.

Stuck At Home


So the Gallifrey One convention is happening right now in Los Angeles and…I’m not there. For the first time since I started going in 2009, I’m missing it. This is not by choice. I had my arrangements all set up, and then, due to circumstances beyond my control, I had to cancel.

It’s quite disappointing. There are several people who go each year, and when they do, that’s the only time I get to see them. I had also hoped to snag some interviews with various famousy types there, and I was hoping to pick up some new action figures, because one can never have enough of those. Plus I’d wanted to get some autographs.

But not this year, alas. Perhaps next year!