Doctor Who

Doctor Who Death in Heaven

The biggest problem I have with the Doctor Who series 8 finale, “Death in Heaven,” is really a compliment: there wasn’t enough Missy (Michelle Gomez). The female incarnate of the Master is one of the most enjoyable villains I’ve seen in a long time, on television or in the movies. She’s a wicked blend of Bond nemesis and evil Mary Poppins (with a dash of Marilyn Monroe impersonation), and it’s probably for the best that I was left wanting more. That’s usually a sign that the desired element was employed just enough. I got the impression that her “death” is more her teleporting away just in time, so it’s likely the rival Time Lord will be back in the future, but it’s unlikely that Gomez will be playing him/her. Hopefully it’s not the last we see of her in general. The current era of 007 movies could use an Irma Blunt/Rosa Klebb-type henchwoman, am I right? Missy’s most shining scene in this episode is when she escapes from captivity aboard the the U.N.I.T. airliner. Poor Osgood (Ingrid Oliver), a character who hasn’t been around for very long (she was introduced and only otherwise appears in last year’s “The Day of the Doctor“) yet one that I got upset about more than normal with a Doctor Who supporting role. I wasn’t even as emotional when Kate Stewart (Jemma Redgrave) is sucked out of the plane and seems to fall to her death — of course, I assumed she was going to turn out […]

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Doctor Who Dark Water

It’s great to have your predictions be wrong when the alternative is something you couldn’t have imagined. But if the truth is something that should have been predicted, because it’s something that normally occurs, then there’s less satisfaction. For Doctor Who‘s Series 8, the ending begins in the afterlife with part one of the finale, titled “Dark Water,” an episode that sort of clears up my observations about a suicide theme — there’s apparently no significance to it — and turns out an inverse of my expectation that Clara (Jenna Coleman) would “die” in a sacrificial matter involving the Doctor (Peter Capaldi), and Danny (Samuel Anderson) would make the effort to save her. Instead it’s Danny who, rather clumsily and totally unintentionally, is killed by a truck. Then, Clara urges the Doctor to find a way for them to bring him back. That would cause a paradox, as the Doctor explains with an unsurprising lack of sympathy for his companion’s tragic loss. What might be surprising is that he didn’t also mention the last time he witnessed a time-traveling companion save a man from his fate of being killed by a car. This episode could have just been a repeat of 2005’s excellent, emotional “Father’s Day,” in which Rose Tyler changed the past in order to have her father in her life, and of course that disruption of order causes the scary creatures known as The Reapers to attack and threaten all of history. Fortunately for Clara, she doesn’t need a […]

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"Hail Hydra." (HBO)

It’s October, and we’re a little more than six months past the Season Four premiere of HBO’s Game of Thrones, and therefore less than half a year away from the Season Five premiere. We just have to make it through Winter. Which is coming, the Stark meteorologists have assured us. October is also the month terminated by the holiday of Halloween, with all the attendant ghosts stories, zombie hordes hunting brains (or candy – one of those), and the appearance of other undead creatures too ornery to quietly stay dead. A fine time to talk about Game of Thrones. And resurrection. Heads up, I’ll be talking Season Three details, so if you’re behind, Spoiler alert. Game of Thrones is a fantasy, but in general magic isn’t heavily emphasized. Sure, we’ve seen a magical assassination and some Penn and Tellerstyle shenanigans from the Warlocks of Qarth, but usually swords are more reliable than spells. That is, until Season Three, when the Hound’s sword only mostly killed Beric Dondarrion, who came back to life as he had six times before. Resurrected by badass priest Thoros of Myr. Critics were quick to complain that if resurrection in Game of Thrones is possible, then the dramatic stakes are lost. Death, where is thy sting? and all that. This was particularly relevant for a show that two seasons before had highlighted the deadly serious stakes when Ned Stark, the literal poster boy for the series, had his life cut short. But is the example of Beric Dondarrion’s resurrection really a negative game-changer for the story’s […]

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Doctor Who In the Forest of the Night

As much as I like the suggestion that the next Doctor Who companion should be an older woman, namely Emma Thompson, there’s something that I’ve always liked about small children on the series. And as this week’s wonder-filled fairytale of an episode, “In the Forest of the Night,” shows us, the younger may be the better for 56-year-old Peter Capaldi‘s Twelfth Doctor. It’s not just the increase in age difference but also the greater contrast in personality. Matt Smith’s version of the Doctor was rather kid-like himself, so when he first hung out with Amy Pond when she was only seven, eating fish sticks and custard, the two seemed like equals. Next to the more cantankerous Capaldi, though, little Maebh (Abigail Eames) is a bright antithesis to the Doctor. This season has already given us the show’s youngest companion ever (I think — if we consider that original sidekick Susan Foreman was a Time Lord and therefore not really a teen and that Angie and Artie Maitland were just one-time guests joining their nanny) with 15-year-old Courtney (Ellis George) hopping aboard the TARDIS for a couple adventures, one of them alone with just the Doctor (that qualifies her as an official companion, right?). So why not go ahead and bring little Maebh for a ride (or 20) next? Probably because it’s difficult to justify carting not just a minor but a very small child into harm’s way without a more proper guardian. It’d be more likely that we’d see her character become […]

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Doctor Who Flatline

Last week’s episode of Doctor Who kept Clara (Jenna Coleman) mostly on the sidelines while the Doctor (Peter Capaldi) was front and center doing all that he does best. So, it’s interesting that the show follows it with an episode where he is mostly offscreen and she’s front and center doing all that he does best. Yes, he. In “Flatline,” Clara gets to play Doctor in a way that allows her to understand him a little better. That’s important for a season in which she is constantly on him about his methods and manners. She has to deal with situations where she too needs to lie for the better of the mission, to give people hope because those without it are more likely to die. But she also has to cope with the fact that some people may die while she’s in command. I’m a little surprised that she doesn’t have more of a reaction when one of the men does die under her leadership. In fact, I’m a little disappointed that there’s not more felt in the responsibility of her role in this episode. Outside of some dialogue in reference to what this experience of walking in the Doctor’s shoes means to their relationship, there isn’t a whole lot of substance here, neither for character development nor for the ongoing story and thematic developments of the show. Still, like last week’s episode, which was also written by Jamie Mathieson, the slightness of the story doesn’t take away from the fun. “Flatline” has a […]

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Doctor Who Mummy on the Orient Express

I didn’t buy that the first episode of this season of Doctor Who was entirely made of meta-text — only slightly — but it’s hard not to consider the eighth episode, “Mummy on the Orient Express,” as much more than a message to the audience. “Don’t Stop Me Now” is a song by Queen that lends itself well to extra meanings when included on a soundtrack (see Shaun of the Dead), and here the title lyrics seem to be saying “don’t quit me now.” In the context of the show, where it’s covered by the British pop singer Foxes, it connects mainly to Clara (Jenna Coleman), who has told the Doctor (Peter Capaldi) that she’s to stop being his companion. Of course, the song could be as much directed at him from her (“don’t try to stop me”) as her from him (“don’t leave me”), but at first I thought maybe he’d planted the musical number. As he’s telling Clara that everything on board the space train they’ve boarded is authentic to the real Orient Express, there’s a cut to Foxes, as if we’re supposed to realize that the 1979 song is anachronistic to the period that the rest of the scene is replicating. This also being the moment when they’re discussing how this ride aboard the ship should be a good one to end on. It is and it isn’t, for her and for us. If we quit now, it’d be on a high note, but who can quit an addiction when they’re so high?

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Hermione Norris in Doctor Who Kill the Moon

If you’ve ever wondered why the Doctor doesn’t ever just nip out and kill Hitler, maybe after some pudding, now you do thanks to “Kill the Moon,” this week’s likely-to-be controversial episode of Doctor Who. It’s not going to be at issue for its defense for letting alone one of the worst figures in history, though, partly because fans of time travel stories have always had to accept such excuse (here it’s that not all of the past, nor future, is that malleable). Far heavier is the notion that the show allegorically tackles the abortion debate in its 45-minute running time and comes to the conclusion that it’s womankind’s right to choose, but the correct choice is still in favor of life. That the plot of the episode entails the fate of the Moon — an entity given a feminine representation in various mythologies and one that’s been believed associated with menstruation — is so ridiculously perfect, but also for some people probably too silly to be used for such a touchy subject. But this is a ridiculous show and a particularly ridiculous episode altogether, one in which Earth’s single natural satellite is revealed to be not an orbiting mass of rock but an egg for some sort of enormous cosmic dragon. And that alien dragon lays another egg of the very same size immediately after it’s born — quick enough that there’s no effect on the nearby planet at all, not even on its tides. It’s an episode where an astronaut […]

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Danny Pink in Doctor Who the Caretaker

Doctor Who has always been a writer’s show. The opening credit emphasizing the author of each episode is our constant reminder, but we still might take that for granted. There are a lot of names who’ve written adventures for the Doctor and his companions, and they’re not most of them household names, nor are all of them consistent in their quality or genre. The two most recent episodes, however, need to have their authors acknowledged for different reasons. Last week, it had to be said that Steve Thompson is always boring. This week, with “The Caretaker,” Gareth Roberts has to be recognized as being a wonderfully clever yet down-to-earth voice who has been greatly missed for the past few years. Maybe it’s because he’s been writing Doctor Who stories, originally in novel form, since the early 1990s, but he just seems to get it. There is a lot going on in “The Caretaker,” but this isn’t immediately apparent. Well, there’s a good deal of plot, what with the whole triangular rom-com situation going on between Clara (Jenna Coleman), Danny (Samuel Anderson) and the Doctor (Peter Capaldi) while also there’s a threat to the planet occurring coincidentally near and then in the school where the former two work. But this is not a plot-centric episode. Even the relationship stuff is just a vehicle for deeper levels, giving us more to chew on regarding the Doctor and Danny than the Doctor and Clara. Actually, no, strike that, because the very end of the episode is very important, […]

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Doctor Who Time Heist

One of the coolest things about the premise of Doctor Who is that it can dip into so many different genres. Sometimes, as in the case with this week’s episode, “Time Heist,” you get a mash-up of a few. Obviously we got a heist story here, and that was combined with the amnesiac thriller and the superhero team-up. Guest good guys Psi (Jonathan Bailey) and Saibra (Pippa Bennett-Warner), who join up with the Doctor (Peter Capaldi) and Clara (Jenna Coleman) on their latest adventure, are respectively reminiscent specifically of Marvel mutants Cable and Rogue. And who wouldn’t want a heroine called The Impossible Girl in a group tasked with such a mission: impossible as robbing the most secure bank in the universe? So how did “Time Heist” wind up being one of the least exciting and imaginative episodes in years? The set-up was great, not necessarily the part where again we’re having a trip disrupt date night for Clara and Danny (Samuel Anderson) but the mysterious phone call and the sudden loss of memory and introduction of the new super-friends. Even the Karabraxos bank manager, Ms. Delphox (Keeley Hawes), has a delicious cartoonish villainy about her, all the way through the end in fact. There were some decent scenes, too, like the one where Delphox and her alien “Teller” wipe the brain of an accused customer and the guy’s skull collapses like a basketball that’s been popped. But that’s actually one of the many moments in this episode that are directed poorly by […]

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Doctor Who Orson Pink

What a clever girl, this episode was! Part of me should be disappointed that “Listen” wasn’t strictly the creepy installment that was promised in the preview and the first act (I revealed my excitement in last week’s recap). But in the end I am too impressed with the unexpected turns of its plot to complain. We began with an introduction teasing a new villain along the same lines as the Weeping Angels and The Silence. The Doctor (Peter Capaldi) is wandering about the TARDIS talking to himself about the possibility that none of us is ever truly alone, that the fear of something under the bed or right behind us comes with good reason. Whatever might be there is always hidden, as the best baddies in the Doctor Who universe are — they come at us when we aren’t looking, or we forget about them when we’re not looking, or in this case they’re always there when we don’t see them. But the creepiness quickly subsides for some rom-com-ness with Clara (Jenna Coleman) and Danny Pink (Samuel Anderson) — or should I say Rupert Pink — which reminded me of how, two episodes ago, in “Into the Dalek,” the flow of the action was similarly interrupted by some cuteness between that budding couple. The show just can’t wait to get back to them any chance it can. Here they have some awkward get-to-know-you and a sudden walk-out from Clara, who gets home and finds her time-traveling pal in her bedroom amazed by her […]

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Doctor Who Doctor of Sherwood

When I first got into Doctor Who (only a few years ago), part of the appeal for me was that it had a kind of Quantum Leap deal as far as the main character’s control of where he’d wind up in many episodes. He would try to go to one place and time, but he and his companion would land in another, as if the Tardis was taking them somewhere and somewhen more important to put right what once went wrong. It’s not as fun when, say, Clara Oswald (Jenna Coleman) gets to pick a destination and they actually get there. But this week’s installment, “Robot of Sherwood,” worked for me anyway because of a new twist on the idea. The Doctor (Peter Capaldi) doesn’t expect to land where/when they do because he thinks it isn’t real. Or at least he doesn’t think the real place and time is populated by such folklore characters as Robin Hood (Tom Riley), Little John (Rusty Goffe) and the Sheriff of Nottingham (Ben Miller). 

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Doctor Who Into the Dalek

This week, Doctor Who continued what may be the running theme of series eight: what makes Doctor Who Doctor Who. I’m not sure if that should be a statement or a question or both. Last week, the philosophical concern with his identity was a sort of “Ship of Theseus” paradox regarding his physical regenerations. Is he the same if so much of him is different? This time it’s the question of whether or not he’s good. And are any soldiers good, if they’ve killed? Is he any better than a Dalek if his hatred of them is as powerful an influence on one of them as is their intrinsic hatred of everything else? The episode, “Into the Dalek,” made me wonder about Peter Capaldi‘s casting and whether it is okay or expected that we think of the actor’s past work while watching this. Thanks to his well-known role as Malcolm Tucker on The Thick of It and in Into the Loop, he carries a bit of meanness on his shoulders that heightens the Doctor’s usually horrible bedside manner. There are a few deaths in this installment, and while they’re no more significant than so many in the past, his attitude towards them comes off crueler than usual. Particularly the darkly comic bit where he gets a soldier (Ben Crompton) to swallow a tracking device prior to his demise so that the Doctor can see where his remains will go.

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Doctor Who Deep Breath

Would a Doctor by any other face smell so sweet? Not if he’s wearing a tramp’s coat, apparently. With the first episode of Doctor Who‘s Series 8, Peter Capaldi is a jarring presence as the Twelfth Doctor, mainly to companion Clara “Impossible Girl” Oswald (Jenna Coleman) but also to an audience used to younger actors in the role since its reboot almost a decade ago. It’s not just because he’s older, though; the thick, sometimes hard to understand Scottish brogue is as rough as his new “attack-eyebrows” appear to be. And maybe it’s an odd appearance because we’ve seen Capaldi on the show prominently before. Does the Doctor acknowledge this deja vu? Has he seen this face before, as he says in the alley to that tramp, in the same place we have? Is it just a coincidence that Capaldi played Caecilius in the 2008 episode “The Fires of Pompeii” and this new episode, “Deep Breath,” debuted on the same date as that earlier one took place, only 1,935 years earlier? This is one of the many things we’ll have to wait to see as the series continues. I also look forward to seeing if the show can quickly get over Capaldi’s distinction and offer up some truly entertaining installments. “Deep Breath,” written by showrunner Steven Moffat and directed by acclaimed filmmaker Ben Wheatley (Kill List; Sightseers), was not very interesting plot-wise. For one thing, there was the matter of Moffat bringing back the Clockwork Robots from “The Girl in the Fireplace,” […]

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Doctor Who Series 8

We knew Doctor Who Series 8 was fast approaching, but until now we hadn’t been officially briefed on just when it would land. Was it intentional for BBC to hold that confirmation until we were an appropriate number of weeks away? It seems too perfect. According to a new teaser via BBC America, the show will premiere with the first full episode to star Peter Capaldi as the Twelfth Doctor on August 23rd at 8pm ET. Titled “Deep Breath,” the episode will be written by Steven Moffat and directed by Ben Wheatley, best known for the films Kill List and Sightseers. The only other things we know are Jenna Coleman is back as companion Clara Oswald and Samuel Anderson is joining the show as another teacher at the school where she works. You won’t even get that much from the 15-second teaser, though. Have a watch after the jump.

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Karen-Gillan-in-Oculus-2013-Movie-Image

On Doctor Who, Karen Gillan played Amy Pond, known as “the girl who waited.” That label stemmed from her first episode of the British sci-fi series, in which the title character showed up in her backyard with his TARDIS — a time machine in the form of an old, blue British police box — and invited a 7-year-old Pond to be his traveling companion. But then he didn’t return to pick her up for over a decade. The actress has had better luck with her own promise of travel and adventure, starting out as a model before landing roles on UK television straight out of drama school, including that prime gig on the internationally popular Doctor Who program. From there, she didn’t have long to wait before a movie career whisked her away to Hollywood. And as it turns out, her initial means of coming to America also involved a man with something resembling an old, blue British police box. “I was in my childhood bedroom in Scotland,” she explains about her first Skype meeting with Mike Flanagan, who directed her in her first gig in the U.S., the creepy, cleverly edited new horror movie Oculus. “And he took a swig of coffee out of a TARDIS mug, which made me realize I had a good chance of getting it.”

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backtothefuture_movieswelove

Time travel stories are one of the most polarizing things for film fans. They either love them, or they turn their noses up at them. Still, that doesn’t stop writers from coming up with them, and it’s not even for the science fiction fields. Time travel stories have an unexpectedly strong placement in romance fiction as well, such as The Time Traveler’s Wife or the upcoming Starz series Outlander, based on Diana Gabaldon’s best-selling historical romance series. While many of these romance-driven stories – like Somewhere in Time and more recently Richard Curtis’s About Time – are not concerned with the greater implications of meddling with the space-time continuum, the science fiction movies are. Traveling through time has been a central figure in stories for years, often presenting the viewer with a crash course in theoretical physics and opening themselves up to plot holes almost impossible to close. As a personal fan of the time traveling story, I love to see what the writers will come up with next. But these movies always get me wondering… is it possible to travel through time the way people do in the movies?

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inspector chronicle prequel

Once upon a time there was a TV show called Community. No, wait, first upon a time there was a TV show called Doctor Who. Then the show Community paid tribute to Doctor Who with a parody version called Inspector Spacetime. Fans liked it so much that they helped in the creation of a web series of Inspector Spacetime. Except NBC and Sony weren’t okay with that, so the series was renamed Untitled Web Series About a Space Traveler Who Can Also Travel Through Time. Lasting six short episodes and starring original Inspector Spacetime portrayer Travis Richey, the web series was very popular and also quite acclaimed. So, logically a second season was planned, and it was going to be even bigger. A prequel episode was released last September with newly added cast members Mayim Bialik (Blossom; The Big Bang Theory), as the voice of the Inspector’s telephone-booth time machine, and Robert Picardo, who I know best from Joe Dante movies and The Wonder Years but who you may know best from Star Trek: Voyager, where he played The Doctor. Speaking of people named The Doctor, since then an actual Doctor Who Doctor, Sylvester McCoy (also of the Hobbit movies), has joined the cast. So has Chase Masterson, of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and a couple episodes of the Doctor Who audio drama. And now there will no longer be a second season of the series. There will be a feature-length movie instead. And it is titled The Inspector […]

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The Time of the Doctor

The best movie culture writing from around the internet-o-sphere. Just leave a tab open for us, will ya?

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Doctor Who 50th Anniversary

This teaser trailer is more epic on the inside. It feels huge, but it’s really only a minute long and doesn’t show us any new footage. Still, the frozen collage brilliance of this ad for Doctor Who‘s massive 50th anniversary episode “The Day of the Doctor” takes us on a journey through time. Don’t forget to bring a towel! I realize that’s not a Doctor Who reference, but it’s still good advice. Check out the craziest family reunion in the history of the universe for yourself:

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worldsend08

It’s pretty clear that Edgar Wright and his sometime co-writer/star Simon Pegg are movie junkies. Their series Spaced was all about allusions to their TV and film favorites, while the first two installments of the “Cornetto trilogy,” Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, were tributes to zombie and action flicks, respectively. With The World’s End, the homage and referencing continues. Even though the message of the movie is to move forward not backward, and even though it’s apparently a veiled criticism of Hollywood’s own nostalgic impulses, it’s okay for a movie this clever to have its influences and predecessors as long as the acknowledgment is through nods to the past works rather than a recycling or cloning of them. One key difference between what Wright does and what the remake/reboot machine does is he provides a gateway to older movies and the machine creates a substitution, a replacement. As a true movie lover, Wright is known for hosting programs of beloved classics and cult classics, usually in hopes of introducing his fans to stuff they’ve never seen. He also likes to name other films that have informed his work and are worth checking out either prior to or after seeing his movies. The following list is not all selections that he has credited nor that he would necessarily endorse. It’s a combination of some of his picks (found mentioned elsewhere) and some of my own, some obvious and some not, some great and some just worth a look for […]

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published: 12.23.2014
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published: 12.22.2014
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published: 12.19.2014
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