Tag Archives: Series 5

The Gangly Gallifreyan

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

Sunflowers and a Starry Night

[Contains Spoilers]

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

There Is No Time


[Contains Spoilers]

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.

d11s01e09_wallpaper_08Overall, 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.

Why Was This Necessary?


[Contains Spoilers]

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 d11s01e07_wallpaper_02episode, 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.

He IS the Doctor

11 DoctorAfter 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.

11_and_Amy_eatThe 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.