Kadokawa has been trying to penetrate the US manga market on its own for a while now. Back in 2014, they released their Comic Walker app that was supposed to update with chapters of manga to read for free, but never went anywhere after a while. Now, it seems they are set to try again, with their new commerce site, Book Walker. They seem to be making interesting promises. The one that sticks out most to me is epub downloads. Most of the titles in English are already available, mostly from Viz Select. We’ll have to wait and see if they branch out into any new titles.
I had intended to talk about this in my Comic-con post, but as I don’t read many comics, it slipped my mind as I was ranting on other things. This was one of the few good announcements I heard come from Comic-con. Marvel is going to be bringing back the CrossGen Universe.
What’s the big deal you ask? Well, CrossGen was a big deal for me. It’s what led me back to comics and subsequently into manga. Back in 2001 (I think), my husband and I wanted to get back into collecting comics. My husband had read several superhero titles in the past, so it was easy for him to find titles he wanted to get back into. My comic reading had been mostly Elfquest, X-men, Blue Devil, Amethyst and various tv/movie tie-ins such as Dark Shadows. But in 2001, these titles either weren’t available, or didn’t really interest me. So every trip to the comic shop was a wistful look at what was available, and my eventual walking out with nothing. Until, that is, my husband put an issue of Mystic, one of the first titles from CrossGen in front of me. I’d always been interested in fantasy, so I gave it a try. I figured it couldn’t hurt. And I loved it. Finally, I had found something in the comic store that I wanted to read!
From Mystic I moved on to The First, Crux, and Sojourn. My husband was familiar with writer Mark Waid, so we started picking up Ruse as well. Back in the day, the first issues of Ruse were hard to find and expensive! I think we eventually found those issues. Harder to find proved to be the first issue of Sojourn. I never did get that one. I liked the shared universe concept they used for the series, and it was fun sometimes trying to find the sigil or figure out how the series fit into the universe. I stuck with CrossGen until the very end and was disappointed when it finally folded. I wasn’t involved in the internet comic community at the time, so I was surprised by all the news that came out about what was happening behind the scenes. It was a real shame to see what I thought was a well crafted universe go down in flames like that.
Fortunately for me though, at about that time, manga was starting on the rise, and I started looking at it more seriously. I mean, I had nothing else to read now. Most of my titles were gone. I was still finding comics to read, but most were either mini-series’ or got cancelled soon after I got interested in them. So, manga became more and more my staple in the comics world, and has led to where I am today.
CrossGen showed that there was an audience out there for genre stories out there. I liked so many of their titles because they delved into genres I enjoy; fantasy, pseudoscience, and mythology. No other comic company has been able to do that since. Manga has been the only reliable genre comics that continue to appeal to me series after series.
Now, news has come out that Marvel, owned by Disney, who had purchased the rights to the CrossGen universe is resurrecting parts of the universe. My first worry was that they would try to force them into the Marvel Universe, which is already convoluted enough as it is. But in its latest Cup ‘O Joe post, CBR spoke with Marvel’s Vice President Executive Editor Tom Brevoort and he spoke a little more about the CrossGen project. This is the part that I found the most encouraging and just might be able to draw me back into the comics market:
Pretty much all of the CrossGen properties are not the kinds of things that we typically do. That is to say, they didn’t publish anything that was a traditional super hero until the very, very end where they dabbled a little bit. Everything they did was “genre publishing” whether it was fantasy or science fiction or super-spy or western or barbarian or whatever. They did a wide range of material, not the kind of thing that Marvel has never done – but it’s not what we typically do. So this also gives us the potential to try some different genres and to scratch an itch that people in our editorial group and amongst our creators may have had.
Wow. Marvel is realizing that there are readers out there that are interested in more than superheroes! And more than that, they are actually going to try to do something about it!! I’m ready to give Marvel a lot of kudos for this move. A lot more than DC, who is culling titles and lines left and right. It’s taken a long time, and might just be a tiny step, but it’s a step I’m happy to see Marvel finally take. With Pet Avengers and now CrossGen returning, Marvel has a good shot at taking back some of my manga bucks.
Syfy recently premiered three of their original TV shows. Warehouse 13 and Eureka are returning series’, while Haven is new for this year. First impressions can always be important, but they can also be deceiving. Let’s look at the premieres of each of the shows and see what the season seems to have in store.
Warehouse 13 survived its freshman year to get a second season. Like most Syfy shows, last season ended with a cliffhanger of Artie being incinerated in the entrance to the warehouse. This is the first thing resolved before the actual episode starts. The resolution shouldn’t be a surprise either, as it was set up not just in the last episode of last season, but the “previously” at the beginning of this episode showed the same key scenes. This episode then proceeds to tie up a few of the loose ends from last season, including getting rid of MacPherson as the season’s arc’s villain though not without him leaving a cryptic message to Artie, and then sets up this current season’s arc and villain.
This season opener was okay. It’s nice to get some closure, and I won’t be missing MacPherson. His reasons for going rouge were never satisfactorily explained, though I think his last words are related, and hopefully we will see more about it. It also set up H.G. Wells well enough that I’m intrigued enough to keep watching to see what she has in mind. Knowing Syfy shows, this season will probably more of the same, but with some of the twists they put on history and historical figures, that might not be a bad thing. But, it will take a few more episodes to know for sure if the writers are still up to the challenge.
Eureka is the oldest of all the shows as it starts its 4th season. Eureka didn’t end on a cliffhanger this year. We had some characters leave, but no one in the main cast, the show could start off with a fresh story arc this season. The town is getting ready to celebrate Founder’s Day, but in a fluke accident that involves solar flares and a machine built by Albert Einstein, five of the characters, Carter, Allison, Jo, Henry and Fargo are transported to just before the towns founding and meet one of its founders, Dr. Trevor Grant. As usual, this little jaunt back in time changes history, but only just slightly. Mainly it seems in the lives of our five main characters. So the season will seem to concentrate on the usual strangeness of Eureka, and dealing with the new reality, as well as what to do unintended time traveler Grant.
As much as I enjoy the quirkiness of Eureka, these constant time shifts that have happened every season so far are getting tiring. The writers might think it’s cool or fun to be able to hit the Big Reset Button so they can change things and/or take characters in new and different directions, but to me it just feels like cheating. It’s the waking up and finding Patrick Ewing in the shower, Or finding Jean Grey coccooned at the bottom of the ocean. Any character development that was shown in the last season can just be wiped away in favor of a new version. You can’t have any real character development this way, since you can’t trust what you saw last season will be true for next. They should stop calling this show Eureka, and change it to “Multiverse”, because it seems the writers are more interested in seeing what could be instead of what is. I’ll still the show this season, but my hopes aren’t up so high.
Haven is the freshman series this year. It is loosely based on the Stephen King novel “The Colorado Kid”. FBI Agent Audrey Parker is sent to Haven, Maine to find a federal criminal that on the loose. Haven is his hometown. The criminal is found dead, but there are mysterious circumstances around his death that Audrey stays to investigate with Detective Nathan Wuornos and finds a supernatural reason behind it. During the investigation, Audrey is shown a picture from the towns past that may connect her to it, giving her reason to stay awhile.
On the whole, I enjoyed this first episode the most. It’s not without its problems of course. It has some plot holes that might make you shake your head, such as Audrey’s matter-of-fact reaction to a woman who can control the weather, but for a series with supernatural overtones, you do need to allow for some suspension of disbelief. Hopefully not too much though. The plot of this episode was very basic, but it’s purpose was more to establish characters and the town than solve a crime, so it gets a pass this time. Speaking of the characters, I liked are main characters right off the bat. Audrey and Nathan have a good rapport, and the supporting characters of the local paper reporters and Duke, Nathan’s arch nemesis it seems, add some humor to balance against the drama. So for the moment, the good outweighs the bad in this series, and it’s one I’ll be looking forward to seeing more of.
The twelfth episode of the fifth series of Doctor Who, “The Pandorica Opens” is not only the penultimate episode, it also seems to portent the end of the universe as well. It all seems pretty grim as the truth behind the cracks in the universe is revealed, and our heroes are left in dire situations with no apparent way out. It’s a cliffhanger reminiscent of the classic series. But like many of the episodes in this series, it ends up being rather uneven in its consistency.
The episode starts with Van Gough in another depression after having just painted a picture that we can’t see. Jump 50 years to World War II and Professor Bracewell, who is talking to Churchill about the same painting. This prompts a call to the Doctor, but gets routed instead to River Song, who is once again in prison. She escapes and goes to the Spaceship Britain to retrieve the painting, but not before running into Liz X. Then it’s another improbably message from River to the Doctor that sends him and Amy back to Earth, England, circa 102 AD to search for the legendary Pandorica.
It doesn’t take long for the Pandorica to be found. Considering where they are, it’s not too surprising where it’s found either. Stonehenge has been everything from a map of ancient sites, or a machine of the apocalypse, so it can’t be too surprising have a giant mythic box under it. The majority of the episode is taken up with the mystery of the Pandorica. The Doctor recounts the legends of who is supposed to be inside,and it turns out to have a connection to Amy (again), as she states the myth of Pandora’s Box was a favorite of hers. Moffat pulls off another twist though, as it becomes not an issue of who is inside, but who is going inside. If you listen to the Doctor’s description of who’s supposed to be inside, it not that much of a surprise. Though I like my interpretation. In the myth, Pandora’s box was closed before hope could escape, therefore, despite all the other problems, humanity would always have hope.
The Pandorica’s opening also attracts a lot of unwanted visitors, as Earth’s skies are filled with spaceships belonging to many of the Doctor’s enemies. He gives a “you don’t want to mess with me” speech, filled again with all the arrogance that only the Doctor can espouse and get away with. And it seems he does again too, but we finally see this arrogance become his downfall. He lets his guard down and falls right into his enemies trap. I had a real problem with the scene with the enemies. Every race in the universe does not have the ability to time travel like the Doctor. The Daleks do, yes, but the Sontarans, Cybermen (from alternate universe) and Nestene do not. And what were the Silurians doing there? That clan won’t have a beef with the Doctor until 2020, so what are they doing in 101 BC? They are advanced, but not that advanced, otherwise they wouldn’t need to be in suspended animation. It was a cool concept, to have the Doctor walked past his enemies, but it just wasn’t realistic. And the Daleks working together, with anyone without their own agenda? Doesn’t happen, period.
This episode brings up a lot more questions than it answers. Why Amy? Why her wall? Why her memories? Why is the TARDIS going to explode? Absolutely nothing is done to explain, or even explore why the TARDIS might be unstable or on the verge of exploding. We see the TARDIS having problems here and there throughout the series, but it’s nothing out of the ordinary for the old girl. She’s always had her eccentricities, just like the Doctor. But I really think if something was really wrong with her, the Doctor could have and should have noticed. He is psychically linked with the TARDIS. It’s not just a space ship, and especially not to him. That’s what makes the scene when she takes River back to Amy’s house so troubling. A voice is heard again saying “Silence will fall”, just before the console monitor cracks. But what does that really mean? Is it the silence at the end of the universe? Or is it something else? And who or what could affect the TARDIS like that, or worse, make her explode?
As cliffhangers go, this one is a good one. A character from previous episodes returns, and there are some good shocks. Amy being menaced by the damaged Cyberman was especially good, and the final scene before the credits was visually stunning if not disheartening. You really wonder after that, how can there be an episode thirteen? Moffat will need to pull some really big rabbits from his hat to tie this up into a happy ending and/or lead in to the Christmas Special.
Every series there is an episode where either the Doctor or companion isn’t featured much because they are needed for filming elsewhere. Multiple episodes are filmed at the same time and this usually happens near the end of the series. This 11th episode, “The Lodger” seems to be this series’ Doctor heavy/Amy light episode. The Doctor gets tossed from the TARDIS, leaving Amy alone to try to fly it while the Doctor tries to figure out what on Earth (literally) is keeping the TARDIS materializing fully. Meanwhile, ordinary human Craig Owens is trying to tell his female friend, not girlfriend yet, how he feels about her so they can reach that next step. He’s got an ugly stain on his ceiling from the flat upstairs and is looking for a roommate. While the neighbor upstairs keeps luring passersby up to never be seen again, the Doctor comes knocking to be Owens’ new roomie.
This episode is basically just fluff, but it’s good fluff. It was originally a comic story written for Doctor Who Monthly, that was reworked to be a TV episode. The Doctor figures he can find and solve the problem, as long as he can pretend to be human. His first real test comes fast. Craig’s pub’s football (soccer) team is down a player, and they need someone to stand in. The Doctor volunteers immediately, as playing football is one of the things Amy told him human guys do. While first feigning knowledge the game, he turns out to be a great player. This isn’t just acting on Matt Smith’s part. He is actually an excellent football player, and was nearly scouted when he was younger. It was really cool of the writers to work this skill of Smith’s in, and it worked out so well in the episode. Watching Smith play and really enjoy the himself doing it really made a difference in the enjoyment of the episode. You were almost cheering the Doctor on, and laughing as she stole Craig’s kick, as he was having so much fun.
Another really funny moment is when Craig discovers the scanner the Doctor has built-in his room. When he goes to confront him, Craig finds the Doctor talking to a cat. He shares a psychic connection with the cat, because, like bow ties, cats are cool. When Craig then tries to kick the Doctor out, the only way he can think to do to explain is to psychically reveal the truth to Craig. With a head butt. That whole scene was just TOO FUNNY. It’s so worth watching the episode just for that scene!
This episode also shows the Doctor playing matchmaker. He seems to enjoy this, meddling in other people’s lives, but then, meddling is what he does best. While still working on what is keeping the TARDIS from materializing, he definitely meddles in Craig’s life. He tells Craig’s “friend” Sophie that she can do anything. He does Craig’s job better than him. He just generally drives Craig nuts! But in the end, he gets both Craig and Sophie to finally express their feelings, which also helps with stopping the problem. I really enjoy these moments of happiness when they come up. It’s one of my few “chick” vices.
Overall, this was a really fun episode, and good pick-me-up after the slightly depressing “Vincent and the Doctor”. It also starts the set up for the final two episodes of the series. The crack does make an appearance. But of much greater significance, Amy finds her engagement ring from Rory in the Doctor’s jacket pocket, while searching for a pen. You can almost see the wheels of memory turning in her head as she stares at it. She knows it should mean something. The big question is, will she remember?
Images © BBC
In the 10th episode of series 5,”Vincent and the Doctor”, the Doctor has been taking Amy where ever she wants to go, to basically make up for the last episode (even though she doesn’t remember). One of those things is to see an exhibit of the work of Vincent Van Gogh at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris. While looking at the paintings, the Doctor notices in one of them, a painting of a church, there is a scary face looking out the window at them. The Doctor then interrupts a curator, Dr. Black, who is talking about the paintings, and asks, after complimenting him on his bow tie, when the church painting was painted. He then whisks Amy off to find Vincent Van Gogh and find out what’s going on.
On the whole, this was a much better episode than the last 4 or so, in both the writing and the acting. This episode featured another famous person, but unlike other “famous people” episodes, it really focus’ on his life and work, and not on the monster that inevitably shows up. While Van Gogh is a well-known and acclaimed painter now, he wasn’t during his lifetime. This episode really shows how unappreciated he was as a painter and as a person. He couldn’t trade a painting for a bottle of wine, and his whole body of work wasn’t worth more than the cost of a some furniture at his death. Even Van Gogh himself didn’t see the worth of his work, as he causally puts a cup of coffee on one and paints over another when the Doctor asks for a drawing of the invisible Krafayis. It was funny to see the Doctor’s and Amy’s reactions to Van Gogh’s carelessness with his work. In the village, he is not only laughed at, he is also cursed at, and blamed for the strange deaths that are happening there. It also explores the motivations of Van Gogh himself. How he saw the world differently, sees beyond the normal eye, and that he can hear color speak to him. This part of the story was very engaging in both writing and acting.
The other half of the story, with the Krafayis, the entire reason for the Doctor and Amy to be there, feels like it was forcibly wrenched into the story. It’s more like an afterthought. There aren’t a lot of scenes with the monster, mainly at the beginning when it is first introduced, and at the end with the fight at the church. The race is described by the Doctor as a brutal one, and that this one left behind will kill without mercy until killed. But when they finally face off against it, the Doctor realizes the creature is blind, and suddenly it doesn’t seem so villainous. That revelation really took the wind out of the sails of the fight. It became more of a mercy killing that a battle to save the village. But then, the monster really wasn’t the point of the episode.
At the end of the BBC broadcast of this episode, a message came up for the BBC action line for anyone who wanted more information on the issues brought up the program. That made my husband and I go “Huh?” The Confidential better explained it. This episode had a lot of references to Van Gogh’s depression and suicide. One of the scenes in the episode showed one of his depressed episodes, and his suicide is mentioned twice. What I was really impressed about this episode, is that the theme of depression wasn’t pounded into the audience’s head. This didn’t have “very special episode” feel to it. It was just excellently written, and acted. The actor who portrayed Vincent, Tony Curran, not only did a fantastic job portraying Van Gogh, he really did look like him! That’s his real beard and mustache that he grew for the part. The writer, Richard Curtis, did a lot of research into Van Gogh, and went to Steven Moffat with the episode idea. This might explain why the monster part didn’t fit as well.
But the best scene of the episode, and one of the most memorable of the season, is at the end. The Doctor decides to give Van Gogh a gift before leaving, and takes him to the future, to the Musee d’Orlay, to the exhibit that the Doctor were at the beginning of the episode. He then asks Dr. Black what he thinks of Van Gogh’s work. Dr. Black then goes into a whole explanation of how the thinks Van Gogh was not just one of the greatest painters, but one of the greatest men of all time, all without knowing that Van Gogh himself is standing right behind him, listening. Van Gogh is truly grateful to the Doctor for his kindness, and Amy thinks their act will have changed Van Gogh, and that there will be more works by him at the museum. But a return to the present shows nothing has changed. Minor things have, such as the face in the church is gone, and now the painting of Sunflowers is dedicated to Amy, but knowing what the future will think of his work couldn’t keep Van Gogh from killing himself.
This was an excellent character driven story, which was a good reprieve after all the plot driven/crack in time/doom and gloom stories we’ve had recently. Even though it isn’t a completely happy ending, it’s not a surprise either. It’s a bit of a tear-jerker, but not in a cheap way.
Images © BBC
You know things aren’t going to go well when an episode starts off with opening narration that includes “the Doctor” , and “terrible losses he suffered”. As “Cold Blood”, the second of a two-part story and the 9th episode of the new Doctor Who series started, I got a sinking feeling. Picking up where the last episode left off, the Doctor and Nasreen have been pulled down to the Silurian city in the TARDIS, and are seeking a peaceful end to the attacks on the surface and to trade Alaya for Mo, Amy and Elliot. Instead, they are taken prisoner by Restac, a military commander. Malokeh, a scientist tries to stop Restac’s plans to wage war on the surface and awakens Eldane, the Silurian leader. The Doctor get Eldane and Amy and Nasreen into talks, still believing in humanity.
Overall, this was a good episode, though Restac and Alaya were a little too stereo-typical with their “destroy the apes” stance. The humanity vs Silurians (homo-reptilia as the Doctor calls them) has been a staple in the Silurian stories, with the military always wanting to destroy while the scientific just wants to study and learn. Malokeh, once we got to know him wasn’t such a bad guy. It was nice to see he had some respect for the children, not that you would ever see children being dissected on a children’s program. But this is the second time we’ve seen something like this, this season. In “The Beast Below”, the Star Whale refused to harm the children as well. I think this is some of Moffat’s influence seeping through. He has children that watch Doctor Who, and he really wants the show to be fun for them, and not just a fanboy romp as Davies’ vision could sometimes be.
Eldane is the leader we really want in power when the Silurians finally come to the surface. He listens and is fair. He hears the Doctor out and is willing to take a chance on his enthusiasm for humanity’s potential. Nasreen turned out to be a good nd realistic negotiator with Eldane. Though why it took so long to get to the obvious trade-off, land for technological advances, I’m not sure. But, just as things are going well humanity fails again (as was inevitable). Ambrose betrays the Doctor’s trust and nearly ruins everything. I’m ambivalent about Ambrose. She does some completely stupid things, and while she has her reasons, I don’t think I can completely sympathize with her, even as a mother myself. She comes off more of the ignorant, violent ape Restac goes on about hunting in the past. But while she nearly does start war with the Silurians, Eldane’s reason does prevail, though it’s not without its price.
Remember what I said about the sinking feeling from the opening animation? It’s justified at the end, as the Doctor, Amy, and Rory are about to enter the TARDIS before the toxic gas is released. The crack in Amy’s wall is there, and much bigger. The Doctor pauses to get a closer look and pulls something out. It’s delay enough for Restac, weakened from gas already released in other section of the city, to fire at the Doctor before collapsing. Guess who jumps in the way to save the Doctor? That’s right, Rory. The man who lectured the Doctor on dragging Amy away and how he put people in danger. He become a total convert and gave his life for the Doctor. And is then consumed by the crack and erased from history. Well, there goes the multi-companion TARDIS I was so hoping for.
But what really riled me, was when Moffat said Rory had to die. That it was time for a sacrifice on the TARDIS. What? Excuse me?? Since when has it become necessary to have sacrifices among the TARDIS crew? What it too much for Amy to be happy and the Doctor safe from any more “jumping incidents”? Offing companions is not the norm on Doctor Who. They usually leave of their own free will. Sometimes they don’t get a choice, like Sarah Jane Smith with the 4th Doctor, or Jamie and Victoria with the 2nd, but killing them is a rare occurrence. Only twice in the classic series did that happen. Sara Kingdom during the 1st Doctor (and she was only a companion for an episode or two) and Adric. There is no “time” for killing a companion, and Moffat should know. He’s the one who wrote the episode “The Doctor Dances” where he declares “Everybody Lives!”
The epilogue to this episode has some ominous tones as the Doctor looks at what he pulled from the Crack, and it doesn’t bode well for him. The next episode, “Vincent and the Doctor”, has The Doctor and Amy going to meet Vincent Van Gogh. Two past, famous person episodes in one series. Hopefully it’s a better, and happier, episode than the last few.
The Doctor’s wonky piloting of the TARDIS once again lands him some place he don’t intend to be, but needs to be in this 8th episode of the new series, “The Hungry Earth”. I’ve come under the distinct impression that the TARDIS has a mind of its own, and makes some of the side trips herself. Anyway, instead of landing to Rio de Janeiro, as promised, the TARDIS lands in the near future in a Welsh village, where a drill is set to pass the 21km mark, the furthest anyone has drilled before. But the Earth doesn’t seem to happy about this, as it first takes a night watchman, and then Amy, sucking them down underground. A barrier then surrounds the village, blocking out the sun, and allowing something to lurk in the ensuing darkness.
This episode is the first of a two parter, so it’s all about set-up. No one really knows what is going on, as strange minerals seep to the surface, and graves are emptied seemingly from underneath. The Doctor, Rory and Amy arrive just as it appears that the ground is fighting back. It’s a good atmospheric episode. There is a lot of suspense as the enemy goes unseen for most of it. The sticking door of the church, while cliché for this kind of episode is put to good use. And no, the sonic screwdriver still doesn’t work on wood.
The reboot of the Silurians aren’t bad so far. Their introduction harkens back to their original appearance back in the 70’s with the 3rd Doctor, as we see things from their perspective, through a mask with an electronic display. Their appearance immediately brought to mind the Narn from Babylon 5, mostly in the shape of the head. The scales and coloring was well done, giving them a very reptilian look. The first Silurian we meet is Alaya, a member of the Warrior class, she spends all of her time (after getting a good verbal smack from the Doctor), taunting the humans, predicting one of them will kill her and start a war between them.
One of the things I really enjoyed was the Doctor’s endless faith in the human race. He sees the encounter with Alaya as an opportunity for humanity to be their best and show the Silurians they are ready for live together in peace. All that has to happen for this is Rory, Ambrose and Tony to keep Alaya safe and unharmed. Is it jaded of me to have spent the entire time thinking that as never going to happen?
Overall this was a good set up for action in the next episode. Rory is really showing himself to be a good companion. Please let us keep a multi-companion TARDIS! Please!!
In this 7th episode of series 5 of Doctor Who (or series 1 in the UK, season 31 for old school fans), “Amy’s Choice”, the Doctor, Amy and Rory are trapped by a man calling himself the Dream Lord, and gives them a difficult choice; choose the real world. In one world, it is 5 years later, and Rory and Amy are married, living in a quaint country village where Rory is a doctor, and Amy is pregnant. In the other, they are still traveling in the TARDIS. Both face dangerous situations. They must decide which world is the dream and which is reality.
I liked the idea for this episode when it started, with the Doctor going back and visiting an old companion and all. Amy and Rory are living in the English country side in a quiet town. Their home is a quaint stone house with ivy and roses climbing around it, and geese running around in the yard. The scenes in this town had some good moments, including Amy trying to run whild pregnant (something I can relate to), and having old people as the enemy was just awesome. But these moments weren’t enough to balance out the problems I had with it.
The first problem I had with it was that it continues the guilt trip on the Doctor. All through the episode, when the Dream Lord appears, he taunts the Doctor about what he does, the companions he chooses, and the effect he has on them. At one point, the Dream Lord taunts that the Doctor doesn’t know who he is. The Doctor responds that he does; he is the one person he hates most in the universe. That is a curious comment if you have been following the series, and seen all the Doctor’s personal enemies knocked off one after another (the Master, Davros, etc). It’s explained at the end, and that explanation just pissed me off. The Doctor is not, and should not be portrayed as someone filled with self-loathing. It’s all just so completely wrong about the character. He can have self-doubts, but in the end he has to be sure he is doing the right thing, otherwise all his journeys in time and space become pointless. I ABSOLUTELY HATE this direction Moffatt has continued the Doctor in.
The other problem I had with this episode became apparent at the end, and related to the title. It came down to Amy to choose which reality was the right one. She made her choice only after Rory “died” in the village world, because she didn’t want a reality where she couldn’t be with Rory. So the whole point of the episode seems to have been to prove to Rory and the audience that Amy really did love Rory. The joy she found with the Doctor and traveling in the TARDIS is purely platonic. Her heart belongs to Rory. Did we really need a whole episode to explain that to us? Really? We’ve already seen that the Doctor and his companions can just be friends. They all aren’t Rose and Martha. We get it. So please stop hitting us over the head with it!
The next two episodes are a two-parter and updates an old enemy from the Classic Series, the Silurians, which hasn’t been seen since the 80’s. An update of them will be very interesting visually with 21st century special effects.
“The Vampires of Venice”, while an overall decent episodes, still has some issues. In the aftermath of last week’s attempted “mating”, the Doctor drags Amy’s fiancée, Rory out of his stag party and into the TARDIS, to give the couple a romantic date, just to keep their fires burning. He takes them to Venice, Italy, to 1580. Venice is closed off though, do to fears of the return of the Black Plague. Of course, it’s just an alien race there, plotting to take over the city and run off with the women, and the Doctor must stop them.
On the plus side, this episode showcases the one of the Doctor’s strengths. His ability to verbally spar with his adversaries. It was particularly good in this episode, as the Doctor breaks in to Signora Rosanna Calvierri’s palazzo and confronts her. The following “question-for-a-question” scene as the Doctor and Rosanna, bat questions and answers at each other. The Doctor is really in his element here, as the verbal barrage of questions goes back and forth. It’s in scenes like this that the Doctor really shines.
Then there are the not so shiny scenes. It mostly has to do with the writing that’s been going on with the Doctor. It started back at the end of Series 4, with Russell T. Davies, and the whole idea that the Doctor is dangerous because he makes people want to impress him and do dangerous things. I really hate this idea, that Davies even forwarded it, and even more that other writers are continuing with it. The Doctor has always been about bringing out the best in people, helping them to do the right thing, not make them into dare-devils or weapons. Rory goes off on the Doctor about this, but by the end, he’s no better. He’s just as enthusiastic to continue traveling in the TARDIS as Amy, but it has nothing to do with impressing the Doctor.
The other thing that really annoyed me was the Rosanna, the Saturnynian leader. She wanted to save her people. That’s fine and all, but she was doing it at the expense of humans. Not something the Doctor is going to take kindly to. Instead of trying to get the Doctor’s help, she tries to enlist him in her plan to “save both their races”, and when he refuses, sends all the females to kill him. Instead the females are killed, and she then gives up, dooming her race and blaming the Doctor for it. Huh? What did the Doctor have to do with her race’s extinction. She’s the one who chose to send all the precious females to try to kill the Doctor. It’s her fault for using poor judgement, underestimating the Doctor and humans in general, and overestimating the females. I really hate this guilt trip the writers keep trying to take the Doctor on. Enough already! The Time Lords got what they deserved, and it’s not the Doctor’s responsibility to save ever single species in the universe that is going extinct, and it’s certainly not his fault if he doesn’t! This was evolution in action for the Saturnynians. Get over it, move on!
Next week’s episode has Rory staying on in the TARDIS for another adventure. I hope this is for more than just an episode or two. It’s been far too long since we have a multi-companion TARDIS, and anything that will keep Amy from trying to jump the Doctor again is a good thing.
“Flesh and Stone”, the second part of the two-part story by Steven Moffat featuring his Weeping Angels wasn’t all I was hoping it would be. I do believe this is the first time that I wasn’t excited about a Steven Moffat two-parter. Some setups from the first part just didn’t pan out, and while we did finally get some Weeping Angel action, it wasn’t enough to save the episode. And the ending, that was just wrong. But I am really starting to like Matt Smith’s interpretation of the Doctor with this incarnation.
First, let’s get the not-so-good stuff out of the way. I was really hoping for more from the whole “eyes are not a window, but a door” set-up from the first part, but it just turned out to be a way to torture Amy and get the Doctor really mad, because Amy is being tortured. Another I really didn’t like was the retconning of the Angels to make this “eyes are a door” thing work. Amy wasn’t supposed to look in the eyes of an Angel, or else it gets stuck in there visual cortex, giving the angel the power to take her over and kill her. So, what about Sally Sparrow and all the times she stared at an Angel? Are they just going to say it was never in the eyes? Right…cause that’s not the first place you’re drawn too, espcially with pupil-less eyes. I know torturing the companion is right for writers on Doctor Who, it just didn’t pan out this time for me.
The Angels started on the move, and started to look more like their old selves, but it wasn’t until at least the middle, maybe more into the third act before they really started acting like the angels from Blink. Their best moment was when Amy had to walk past them and make them think she could see. The moments of the camera hitting the Angel, then away, then back to the angel, then away, and then the angel’s head moved, that was what I wanted to see more of. That’s what makes the Weeping Angels scary, the fact that you never know when they are going to move. There were some flashing lights with them moving in the darkness as well, but forest scenes were the best.
Even though we’ve seen glimpses of the Doctor’s temper in “The Beast Below”, this episode shows just how angry he can get. It’s not the “I’m superior to you, so why are you all so stupid?!” kind of anger as the 6th Doctor portrayed. It’s more of a rage that runs underneath and then bubbles to the surface. It’s his most human quality in this regeneration. He gets angry, not when people are doing stupid things (he expects that I think from humans), but when he is stuck in a situation that he can’t immediately find an answer to. In this episode, it’s trying to save Amy from the Weeping Angels. The more impossible it seems, the more angry he gets. I think this is a very interesting aspect to the Doctor we haven’t seen. We’ve seen him as crotchety, as in the 1st and 5th Doctors, the 3rd and 6th were more superiority complexes, but for the 11th, there are some real anger management issues that may need to be addressed.
And the end of this episode, was just so unnecessary. I had more respect for Amy before she tried to jump the Doctor’s bones. While she’s not as bad as Rose or Martha, and I can see where Moffat is coming from in writing the scene, I just really didn’t care for it. I’d really like for the Doctor and Amy to stay as platonic friends, and not become a one-night stand just because Amy had a bad day or is on a time-traveling bachelorette party. Good reaction from the Doctor though.
Next episode is a location shot on Venice, with a new monster to face. While vampires aren’t new, hopefully this version will be.
After a year of specials that were more forgettable than not, it was nice to get a regular season of Doctor Who back. Like the producers that came before him, Steven Moffat has started the 11th Doctor off with a fairly clean slate. New Doctor, new TARDIS, new companion and new adventure, “Eleventh Hour”.
This first episode played out much like a typical regeneration story, with the Doctor off kilter for most of it, as he gets his bearings on himself and then the situation. I have to say I had some mixed feelings about this episode. I miss the old orchestrated opening. The new one isn’t bad, it’s just that 3rd-4th series opening was better. I do like the new TARDIS interior, and new companion Amy Pond does get my approval. I particularly enjoyed the beginning with Amy as a child. Her interactions with the Doctor were great! I’m not to sure about the “Doctor’s Perspective” they presented with all the near stop-motion cam. It was interesting for the reboot, but I’m glad they haven’t used it since.
The scene that not only made this episode, but cemented Matt Smith’s position as the Doctor was a the end, as he was choosing his new costume. It wasn’t from the TARDIS’ wardrobe this time, which is a departure from tradition. But it does suit him quite nicely. A lot of people had doubts about Matt Smith, since he’s the youngest actor to play him yet. But a lot of people had doubts about Peter Davison, and he turned out to be my favorite, so I wasn’t worried. Steven Moffat chose him, and he hadn’t steered me wrong yet, so “In Moffat I Trusted”. And my trust was proven well placed. In the scene on top the hospital’s roof near the end, as the Doctor explains why the Atraxi should leave earth, there is a projection of the last 10 Doctors with Matt Smith walking through the 10th Doctor’s face to reveal this new look complete. It was his declaration that HE is the Doctor now. It was a fantastic moment! And after a year of doom and gloom with the 10th Doctor, it was great to have a triumphant moment like that again.