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Sunday, May 29, 2011

Doctor Who Review - 6x06: The Almost People

Dialogue Triumphs

Amy: “I’m sorry, what I said about you being almost the Doctor. It’s just really hard because we’ve been through so much with him. I’ve even seen… I’ve even seen the moment of his… can you die? If you really are the same, then you can die… can be killed… and I might have seen that happen.”

Ganger Doctor: “Why?”

Amy: “Why? Because you invited us to see it… your death.”


Amy: “Hang on…”

Cleaves: “You cannot let him go, are you crazy?”

The Doctor: “Am I crazy, Doctor?”

Ganger Doctor: “Well, you did want to plug your brain into an entire planet just to hold its orbit and win a bet.”


The Doctor: “If you have a better plan, I’m all ears. In fact, if you have a better plan, I’ll take you to a planet where everyone is all ears.”


Ganger Jennifer: “You’ve tricked him into an act weakness, Doctor.”

The Doctor: “No, I’ve tricked him into an act of humanity. Anyone else like the sound of that? Act of humanity.”


The Doctor: “Push, Amy… but only when she tells you to.”


Rory: “Doctor! What is happening to her?”

The Doctor: “Contractions.”

Rory: “Contractions?”

The Doctor: “She’s going into labor.”

Amy: “Did he say…? No, no, of course he didn’t…”

Rory: “You’re going to have to start explaining some of this to me Doctor.”

The Doctor: “What? The birds and the bees? She’s having a baby. I needed to see the Flesh in its early days, that’s why I scanned it, that’s why we were there in the first place. I was going to drop you off for fish and chips first, but things happened, and there was stuff and shenanigans… beautiful word, ‘shenanigans’. I needed enough information to block the signal to the Flesh.”

Amy: “What signal?”

The Doctor: “The signal to you.”


Amy: “Doctor, I am frightened. I’m properly, properly scared.”

The Doctor: “Don’t be. Hold on. We’re coming for you, I swear, whatever happens, however far, however hard, we will find you.”

Amy: “I’m right here.”

The Doctor: “No, you’re not, you haven’t been here for a long, long time.”


Hatch Lady: “Well dear, you’re ready to pop, aren’t you? Little one’s on its way. Here it comes… puuuuuuuush!”

Dialogue Disasters

Ganger Doctor: “Reverse the jelly baby of the neutron flow.”


Jennifer: “Rory!”

Rory: “What’s wrong?”

Jennifer: “This wheel, it’s just too tough for a girl to turn. Are you feeling strong?”

Rory: “I’ll break out the big guns.”

Double Entendres

Amy: “But, hang on, you said the TARDIS was stuck in acid, so won’t she be damaged?”

The Doctor: “Nah, she’s a tough, old thing.”

Ganger Doctor: “Tough, old, sexy.”

The Doctor: “Tough, dependable, sexy.”


Ganger Cleaves: “Shuttle, the codeword is ‘bad boy’.”

The Review

In the conclusion to last week’s episode, two Doctors, one the real deal, and the other a replicate, work together to save humans and Gangers alike from destruction, as the acid mine falls apart all around them. However, none of that is half as interesting as the reveal to why The Doctor was so interested in the Flesh technology to begin with… but, as River Song would say, spoilers!

Although the developments in this episode don’t quite vindicate the overall drabness of “The Rebel Flesh”, it did, surprisingly, answer a lot of the questions that season six had been raising for awhile. Namely, we finally figure out why Amy kept having visions of the Hatch Lady, and why the Doctor’s medical scans kept giving a scrambled report as to her pregnancy status. It’s interesting how this Doctor plays his cards so close to his chest, very reminiscent of how the Seventh Doctor did things.

Seasonal arc plot points aside, the main plot of these two episodes were still kind of a mess. I still found the characters to be shallow, and capable of pulling off the most bizarre 180s. Ganger Jennifer goes off the deep end, going from a sweet, likeable character, to complete monster in little-to-no-time. It’s briefly explained that her memories of being “decommissioned” had awakened, leading to this mental breakdown, but I found that to be a little weak. Meanwhile, the real Foreman Cleaves also has an about face that seems just as illogical, given it was her irrational, remorseless actions that started the mess in the first place.

Really, it’s the interaction between the two Doctors, and their interaction with Amy, that keeps this episode going at a nice pace. The twist at the end, when it is revealed that at some point the two Doctors switched shoes, so that the real Doctor could test Amy’s reaction to who she thought was the fake Doctor, was interesting, though confusing. So, when exactly was the switch made? Was the Doctor’s purpose behind this have something to do with his investigation into the Flesh? I don’t know, it’s rather hazy, but it was all fun to watch, which is more than I can say for “The Rebel Flesh”, I suppose.

Anyway, now that this two-parter is over with, all that is left is the mid-season finale “A Good Man Goes to War”, at the end of which Moffat has promised a cliffhanger that will be a “game changer”. Considering the impressively mindblowing cliffhanger at the end of “The Almost People”, my fellow Doctor Who nerds, it looks like it’s going to be a LONG summer after next week’s episode is over, and the season picks up again in the Fall. A long summer indeed…

Next time…. “A Good Man Goes to War”…

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Doctor Who Review - 6x05: "The Rebel Flesh"

Dialogue Triumphs

The Doctor: “There are people coming. Well, almost…”

Amy: “Almost coming?”

The Doctor: “Almost people.”


Intercom: “Halt and remain calm!”

The Doctor: “Well, we’ve halted, how are we all doing on the ‘remain calm’ part?”


Jennifer: “I couldn’t get out of my harness. I thought I was going to die.”

Rory: “Welcome to my world.”


The Doctor: “You stopped his heart! He had a heart! Aorta, valves, a real human heart, and you stopped it!”

Dialogue Disasters

Amy: “Right, brilliant… lost?”

Forman Cleaves: “Okay…? Once a reading’s been taken, we can manipulate its molecular structure into anything – replicate the organism down to the hairs of its chinny-chin-chin.”


Rory: “For want of a better word: oww!”


The Doctor: “It is too dangerous out here with acid leaks!”


The Doctor: “Yes, it’s insane, and it’s about to get even more insanerer… is that a word?”

Double Entendres

The Doctor: “Assume the positions!”

The Review

The TARDIS crash-lands onto a small island on Earth after being struck by a solar tsunami. The island is home to an acid mining complex, run by a modest sized group of workers lead by a pragmatic foreman named Cleaves. The miners utilize synthetic flesh to create replicas of themselves, called “Gangers” (short for Doppelganger), that they control from the safety of harnesses, to avoid the natural hazards involved in mining acid. The complex, normally powered by solar flares, is being bombarded by the very solar tsunamis that forced the TARDIS into landing. The Doctor attempts to evacuate the workers, before the entire factory is destroyed, but fails to do so before another tsunami strikes, causing the Gangers to gain sentience from their human controllers. The Doctor not only must keep the Gangers and humans from murdering each other out of hysteria, but somehow get them all off the island before the next solar flare kills them all.

When it comes to a typical season of Doctor Who, there is no such thing as bowling a perfect three hundred. As solid as this season has been so far, it looks like The Rebel Flesh will end up being season six’s gutter ball (though, arguably, some may give that dubious title to The Curse of the Black Spot, although I really liked that episode… pirates-in-space notwithstanding). To be fair, it may be too soon to really label this episode a dud, since it’s a two-parter, and so the story isn’t even complete yet. However, I know I didn’t much care for this episode because after the cliffhanger, I was indifferent about how the story will conclude in next week’s episode. In fact, I almost stopped the episode before the “Next Week” trailer came on at the end credits. By the way, show of hands if you didn’t predict the cliffhanger? Yes, you there, the tubeworm in the back!

The main concept of the episode is clever, but I felt the plot dragged a bit, and the tension between humans and Gangers seems forced. Hostilities between the two factions is raised to the boiling point after Cleaves, in an act that ought to be labeled “Spaz Moment of the Year” for this season, outright kills one of the Gangers with an electrical prod for no other reason than to prove the point that the Gangers are merely equipment and deserve no other treatment. Although Cleaves is a fairly unlikeable character, her act of violence wasn’t really well predicated by any character traits she displayed before, and was wholly unnecessary. None of the characters have very realistic motivations and are mostly forgettable (or in Jennifer’s case, annoying). Why does Ganger-Jennifer become so evil after one of her comrades is murdered? Sure, I expect her to be upset, but “let’s wipe them all out” upset? How does her character go from weepy “I’m just as human as the real Jennifer” to a more sinister “kill them all”? Amy has nothing to do this entire episode but have yet another encounter with the mysterious Hatch Lady, who this time says nothing. Maybe she sensed that this episode wasn’t important enough for dialogue. Meanwhile, Rory spends his time helping Ganger-Jennifer make sense of her new life.

I think the main problem I have with this episode is that it reminded me of last year’s Silurian two-parter, The Hungry Earth/Cold Blood: a small group of miners encounter a race of creatures they don’t understand, so they panic, murder one of them, and nearly cause a war of global scale. This time, the stakes don’t really seem all that high, besides The Doctor simply wanting to help new life forms have a fighting chance before they are destroyed by their creators.

The one plus I’ll grant the episode is that the special effects are great. I like the look of the Gangers, when they are in “flesh form” (resembling Otto from Deep Space Nine). There’s a neat scene where Ganger-Jennifer seamlessly switches between human and Granger. Besides taking place in a drab, uninteresting location, the overall look of the episode is good.

Perhaps next week’s “The Almost People” will wrap everything up in satisfactorily enough that it’ll salvage this episode!

Next week…

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Doctor Who Review - 6x04: "The Doctor's Wife"

Dialogue Triumphs

The Doctor: “There’s a living Time Lord left, and it’s one of the good ones!”

Rory: “You said there weren’t any of the Time Lords left.”

The Doctor: “There aren’t any Time Lords left anywhere in the Universe, but the Universe isn’t where we’re going! See that snake? The mark of The Corsair – fantastic bloke! He had that snake as a tattoo in every regeneration; he didn’t feel like himself unless he had that tattoo, or herself a couple of times, ooh-hoo-hoo, she was a bad girl!”


The Doctor: “Why am I thief? What have I stolen?”

Idris: “Me! You’re going to steal me! You have stolen me. You are stealing me. Oh, tenses, they are difficult, aren’t they?”


Rory: “We’re not actually going to stay here, are we?”

The Doctor: “Well, it seems like a friendly planet… literally.”


Rory: “So, as soon as the TARDIS is refueled, we go, yeah?

The Doctor: “No! There are Time Lords here, I heard them, and they need me.”

Amy: “But you told me about your people, and you told me what you did.”

The Doctor: “Yes, yes, but if they’re like The Corsair, they’re good ones, and I can save them!”

Amy: “And tell them that you destroyed all the others?”

The Doctor: “I can explain… tell them why I had to…”

Amy: “You want to be forgiven.”

The Doctor: “Don’t we all?”


The Doctor: “You gave me hope then you took it away, that’s enough to make anyone dangerous. God knows, what it will do to me. Basically… run!”


The Doctor: “You know, since we’re talking with mouths, not really an opportunity that comes very often, I just wanted to say, ya know, you have never been very reliable.”

Idris: “And you have?”

The Doctor: “You didn’t always take me where I wanted to go.”

Idris: “No, I always took you where you needed to go.”


Idris: “You ever wonder why I chose you, all those years ago?”

The Doctor: “I chose you. You were unlocked!”

Idris: “Of course, I was. I wanted to see the Universe. I stole a Time Lord and ran away… and you were the only one mad enough.”


The Doctor: “Hang in there, Old Girl. We’ll be there soon.”

Idris: “…always liked it when you called me ‘Old Girl’…”


House: “Fear me; I’ve killed hundreds of Time Lords.”

The Doctor: “Fear me… I’ve killed all of them.”


Idris: “There’s something I didn’t get to say to you…”

The Doctor: “Good-bye?”

Idris: “No… I just wanted to say: hello… hello, Doctor. It’s so very, very nice to meet you.”


The Doctor: “The House deleted all the bedrooms, I should probably make you two a new bedroom, you’d like that, wouldn’t you?”

Amy: “Okay, um, Doctor, this time could we lose the bunk beds?”

The Doctor: “No! Bunk beds are cool! Beds… with a ladder! You can’t beat that!”

Dialogue Disasters


Double Entendres

Idris: “The first time you touched my console, you said I was…”

The Doctor: “…the most beautiful thing I’d ever know.”


The Doctor: “Oh, sorry, uh, do you have a name?”

Idris: “700 years and finally he asks.”

The Doctor: “What do I call you?”

Idris: “Don’t you call me… Sexy?”

The Doctor (flustered): “Only when we’re alone!”

Idris: “We are alone.”

The Doctor: “Huh. Come on then, Sexy.”


House: “So are we having fun yet? I rather enjoy the sensation of having you running around inside me.”


The Doctor: “She’s a woman, and she’s the TARDIS.”

Amy: “Did you wish really hard?”

The Doctor: “Shut up, it’s not like that.”

Idris (To Amy and Rory): “Hello, I’m… Sexy.”

The Doctor: “Ooh, still, shut up!”


The Doctor receives a distress signal from an old Time Lord acquaintance, and races to the rescue, all the way through a rift into another universe. The TARDIS lands onto a living planet named House, which has accrued piles of junk that has traveled through the rift over the years. The distress signal turns out to be a trick for luring Time Lords, so that House can consume their TARDISes. House extracts the living soul of the TARDIS, implants it into the body of a woman named Idris, possesses the TARDIS itself, and takes off with Amy and Rory trapped inside. The Doctor must team up with Idris to pursue the TARDIS before it escapes to the real universe, leaving The Doctor trapped forever.

I must admit, I was a little apprehensive about this episode, despite it being written by the brilliant Neil Gaiman, because the title put me in mind of the utterly disappointing, not to mention misleading, season four episode, The Doctor’s Daughter. Whereas that episode was a rigmarole of hopeless nonsense, this episode is a delightful exploration of the relationship between The Doctor and his TARDIS, something that has never been done in the 20-plus years of Doctor Who’s tenure on television. We’ve always heard that the TARDIS was a living ship, but never had we the opportunity to meet her, besides, perhaps, the time that Rose was possessed by the Time Vortex in the season one finale, The Parting of the Ways; even then, it was rather ambiguous.

The other parts of the episode, the characters of Aunt, Uncle, and even the main baddy, House, are absolutely superfluous – even , at times, slightly annoying. Amy and Rory don’t have much to do but run around, being terrorized by House. Speaking of which, it must be said, Rory has died onscreen more times than any companion in Doctor Who history. Poor Arthur Darvill must be a nervous wreck, wondering which death will be the last. If this keeps going on, eventually Amy will find Rory’s lifeless body, and, instead of collapsing into tears, she’ll just roll her eyes in annoyance.

Finally, after so many years, the TARDIS temporarily gets a voice of her own, and it’s a wonderful experience. I loved how The Doctor and Idris, the woman within whom the TARDIS is forcibly installed into, bicker and reminiscence like an old, married couple. Guest-star, Suranne Jones, and Matt Smith have fantastic chemistry, which greatly helps believe the long-term nature of their characters’ relationship. Credit should also be given to Neil Gaiman, who managed to deliver an episode worthy of the series, and one that will probably be a fan favorite for years to come. Not since Douglas Adams (who wrote the famous Fourth Doctor story, “City of Death”, among other gems), has a famous writer been able to leave such an indelible mark on the show. I am definitely crossing my fingers for Gaiman to write another for next season.

After watching this episode, I do believe that the TARDIS is, indeed, The Doctor’s wife, and one with no equal.

BTW> Did anyone else notice how the Doctor mentioned how The Corsair regenerated into a woman a couple times? So, apparently, that answers the question on whether or not a Time Lord can switch genders during regeneration... interesting...

Next time... "The Rebel Flesh"...

Monday, May 9, 2011

Doctor Who Review - 6x03: "Curse of the Black Spot"

Dialogue Triumphs

The Doctor: “Yo ho ho! …or does nobody actually say that?”


Avery: “I’m confused…”

The Doctor: “Yeah, well, it’s a big club, we should get t-shirts.”


Hatch Lady: “It’s fine… you’re doing fine… just stay calm.”


Amy: “Good night, Doctor.”

The Doctor: “Good night, Amelia.”

Amy: “You only call me ‘Amelia’ when you’re worried about me.”

The Doctor: “I always worry about you.”

Amy: “Mutual.”

The Doctor: “Go to bed, Pond!”

Dialogue Disasters


Double Entendres

Avery: “Take the doxy below to the galley. Set her to work, she won’t need much feeding.”


The Doctor: “You know, you shouldn’t feel threatened, your ship is much bigger than mine…”


Rory (to Amy): “I love the get-up, that’s great! You should dress as a pirate more often!”


The Doctor: “And the guns are back, you’re big on the guns. You know, Freud would say you’re compensating…”


Amy: “I’m his wife, for godsake, why can’t I touch him?”


The TARDIS lands in the hold of a becalmed pirate ship, the crew of which is slowly being picked off by a beautiful Siren who only targets the freshly injured. If one is even so much as nicked by a loose nail, a black spot appears in their palm, marking them as the next victim for the Siren to disintegrate. After Rory gets marked, The Doctor quickly takes command of the vessel in order to stop the Siren, before Rory dies for the third time in the new series (poor Arthur Darvill – always wondering if his next death scene will be his last!).

I didn’t expect much out of this episode, if only because the 2-parter season opener was so good, and kick started so many interesting seasonal arc subplots, the prospect of watching a filler episode about pirates seemed a slap in the mouth. Fortunately, Curse of the Black Spot turned out to be a delightful romp, which includes a plot turn that, though it’s arguable that it regurgitates concepts from previous Doctor Who episodes (The Girl in the Fireplace meets The Doctor Dances, with a dash of pirate – aaaargh!), was still a satisfying twist.

Once again, performances were good by all. Hugh Bonneville plays Captain Avery with appropriate gravitas. One definitely can sense that Captain Avery comes from a distinguished Navel background, rather than having risen through the ranks of a pirate ship. Also, it must be mentioned that Lily Cole, as the Siren, did a fantastic job as well, even though she didn’t have any spoken lines beyond singing pretty (which, in all likelihood, was dubbed anyway). Nevertheless, she did a fine job with the material she had, lighting up the screen (so to speak) whenever she appeared. Besides being absurdly hot, Lily Cole has a lot of natural charisma, and I wouldn’t be surprised if she landed a bigger role in future episodes (just like Karen Gillan landed the role of Amy Pond, after playing a nameless soothsayer in The Fires of Pompeii – going even further back, just like Freema Agyeman landed the role of Martha Jones after her bit part in Army of Ghosts).

While the episode is mostly very goofy, what with Amy somehow managing to deftly sword fight with pirates, and then the silly “pirates-in-space” ending, a fun episode like this turns out to be just what the Doctor ordered (hehe) after the emotionally heavy season premiere, and what showrunner Stephen Moffat promises to be an even more emotionally intense mid-season finale.

Plus, if there’s anything that can be taken from this episode, it’s that The Eleventh Doctor can add “Pirate hat” to his growing list of quirky hats he’s worn over the course of his run.

Verdict: S’alright!

Next time... The Doctor's Wife (written by Neil Gaiman - squee!)