2017-07-16 12:04 pm

Doctor Who #13--initial reactions

Crossposted from my Facebook.

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2017-07-01 08:38 pm

Doctor Who 36.12--"The Doctor Falls" by Steven Moffat

Wow. I'm...I'm almost not sure what to say. Very well written, very well acted, very well directed. On the edge of my seat the whole time. There were a few things I had problems with, but those are definite spoilers, definite spoilers, and there was only one that actually almost rose to the point of bothering me.

But oh my, was Pearl Mackie fantastic. All of those "this is an actor who will go on to become big" stuff--totally true.

And Peter Capaldi was the Doctor. Even more so than ever before. I mean, he's always been great, but he's done the brilliant thing where he's allowed himself to grow into the part. You can see the journey between his first episode and this. I've compared the evolution of the Twelfth Doctor to Colin Baker's plans for the Sixth, and it reaches its culmination in this episode. I don't want him to go. He's just...he's the Doctor.

Matt Lucas? Wonderful, solid, funny, comforting. His Nardole has been great this season, and this was his best as well.

And Michelle Gomez? Oh my god, so many layers to her performance. Roger Delgado will always be my favorite, but Gomez is possibly the best acted Master we'll ever have.

Since I promised myself I'd get through the series without spoilers in this post, I'll say that the other principal actor was absolutely pitch perfect as well.

As for the plot...well, the plot was good, but this was all about character, and the actors brought it. It was a tremendously good Doctor Who script, all about hope vs. fear, life vs. death, all very well written. But it's the actors (and the director) that made the script work. Even the bit that almost didn't work for me worked, thanks to Pearl's performance. (And yes, the script had all kinds of easter eggs for we old fans, which didn't hurt either!)

I just...this is the strongest season of Doctor Who we've had in a long time. In my opinion, the strongest since series 27, the Eccleston series. Not that I haven't really enjoyed subsequent years--obviously, I have! But this year worked so well, I don't know. It might just be me. But I have no compunction about recommending every single episode this year. Some were definitely better than others, but none weren't quite good. I might be alone in that opinion, I realize, but I'll stand by it.

Just...yeah. Wow.

COMING THIS X-MAS: The Twelfth Doctor has one last adventure...and it involves the most unexpected meeting of all. It's "No Title Yet Released" by Steven Moffat! And it guest stars....well, watch the end of this episode and see!
2017-06-28 05:14 pm

Doctor Who 36.11--"World Enough and Time" by Steven Moffat

Now that was a frightening cliffhanger image. Brrr.

I feel like I need to say a bit more about this episode because, if you just watch the first 10 minutes or so, it'd be easy to dismiss. Yes, those ten minutes are filled with very Moffaty tweaking the nose, but then...I spent the rest of the episode with my heart in my throat. Because I'm a long-term fan, you see. Because I knew what was happening.

That being said, it's not all predictable. I do wish I'd gone in knowing considerably less about this story than I did...but that's the fault of trailers and tabloids (the latter as a consequence of the former), and not the fault of the episode at all. It's important to note that, for me, knowing some of what is going on (more than the characters do) actually made the whole episode scarier and more suspenseful. (We knew just enough to be even more frightened.)

Honestly, I think this might be Moffat's best script in years, especially once you get past the first few minutes. I am literally sitting here, with my heart still beating wildly, as I wonder what will happen in the next episode. (I'd say "next week," but I'm watching this a bit late. Although that won't stop me using the words at the bottom of this post, will it?) There's a feeling of claustrophobia here--not just because it basically takes place in two closed locations (except for one short sequence), but because there's a feeling of a trap closing, of walls closing in. That's not a spoiler of anything specific, just an observation. It all works wonderfully to the story's benefit.

There has been so much about this series that's felt like echoes of 20th century Doctor Who, and this episode is no exception, going right back to the '60s. In a lot of ways, this episode is a love letter to the long term fan--both of 20th and 21st century Doctor Who. And, at the end, it gives us something some of us wished the TV show could have done a long time ago. (Big Finish has done it on audio, but it's never been done on TV.)

I'm getting perilously close to spoilers (although, see above about trailers and such, you probably already know), so we'll leave it at that.

NEXT WEEK: Part two of this story--and there's nothing I can say that wouldn't spoil this week! The season all comes down to this--"The Doctor Falls" by Steven Moffat. Can. Not. Wait.
2017-06-21 06:44 pm

Doctor Who 36.10--"Eaters of Light" by Rona Munro

"If we fight like animals, we'll die like animals!"

My public TV station was the first in the US to get the final season of 20th century Doctor Who, showing it in late 1989/early 1990. Of course, at the time we didn't know for sure it was the final season, but I recall being very impressed at the time with the leap the writing had taken. The final story, "Survival," is where the line above comes, yelled near the story's climax by a superb Sylvester McCoy. And the story was written by a young writer named Rona Munro.

Since then, Munro has gone on to become a famous playwright and television writer, internationally renowned. And yet the only thing I know her for is that story...and that story alone would have been enough to impress me and make me excited to see what she can bring to 21st century Doctor Who. When I heard the rumor that a "classic" series writer would be returning this year, I figured it would be someone like Ben Aaronovitch or something. Rona Munro was not first on my mind. But ever since she was announced, I've been so excited to see her story! And so?

I effing LOVED IT. My only wish is that it could have been a two-parter to give it more room to breathe...but even so, it was written beautifully for the 40 minutes or so she had. (I'm almost certain the last two minutes were pretty much entirely Moffat, but they were also good.) As I said last week, I was pretty much in the tank for this story as it was--pseudo-historical in Roman Britain? Yeah, I'd be there. True, it might not have worked, but I had "Survival" as a guide to how well Munro could write--and how much she understood the Doctor and the show.

I'm thrilled at how well the episode was plotted, and I loved the dialogue. Her handle on Bill was fantastic. (And hey, it's nice that the first writer to really try to insert a lesbian subtext into the show later got to handle the first lesbian companion, right?) Nardole was quite good too. And the Doctor? Holy moly, not only was the writing spot-on for him, but Peter Capaldi was superb. Like McCoy, he's getting the best scripts of his run during his (sob) final season, and, like McCoy, he's knocking them out of the park.

Yes, ok, the secondary characters might have been slightly sketched in, but, given the running time, I think the script did a great job telling us what we needed to know! In fact, I had only one real quibble about the script, a not-quite anachronism that I can explain away for my own sake. :-) (Technically, it'd be a minor spoiler, so I'll explain only if someone asks.)

In fact, the only fault I have might be a bit of the direction. Early on, in some night scenes, I don't feel things were framed particularly well. The effects, though, were great, and I loved the design of the eponymous Eater of Light. It reminded me a bit of something that does not have to do with Doctor Who...nope, spoiler!

So yes. Short form, I loved it. It wasn't an action-packed episode (though there certainly was action), but the way the script unfolded worked very well. It felt longer than 42 minutes...but that's because so much happened and it was so immersive, not because I was bored. Yes, definitely loved it. If Rona Munro wants to come back, I say let her come back! And don't wait 28 years to ask her!

NEXT WEEK: Mondas? Cybermen? And...WHO'S THAT??? It's "World Enough and Time" by Steven Moffat!
2017-06-13 06:26 pm

Doctor Who 36.9--"Empress of Mars" by Mark Gatiss

Or, perhaps I should say, by Mark Gatisssssssssssss.....

Now, I wasn't thrilled with "Cold War"'s return of the Ice Warriors, but this story more than made up for it. I loved it. I mean, yes, it was nowhere near perfect, but there was so much that hit my sweet spot. Ice Warriors. Victorian soldiers. (Very Flashman!) And it gave us a perfect link to...oooh, spoilers. :-) Seriously, though, if you're a long-term fan, there's a decent chance you'll be really happy too. And the best cameo ever.

And yes, there is a "physics, what physics?" moment, but it works for me. For spoilers reasons. Trust me, you'll know what I mean.

And yes, I'll be up for discussion in the comments!

NEXT WEEK: Roman era Britain!! It's like they're just deciding to write "what Jonathan will like" now! It's "Eaters of Light" by Rona "Survival" Munro! (Yes, the first writer from the classic series to write for the new series!!)
2017-06-03 08:34 pm

Doctor Who 36.8--"The Lie of the Land" by Toby Whithouse

So, at last we come to the end of the three episode story. As with last week, it's going to be very difficult to pick my words without spoiling things, but the big question is: Does Toby Whithouse stick the landing?

Remember, part one of this story was written by Steven Moffat alone, part two was by Moffat and Peter Harness, and part three is by Whithouse. (A writer whose work I have enjoyed in the past.) It's a strange way to write a story--and yes, Moffat has referred to the episodes as being "loosely connected," but there's no way this week and last week could work independently from each other. So I choose to think of this as a three-parter.

Well, first of all, the title is magnificent. If Whithouse thought of it, props to him. I wonder whether he got some kind of brief or if he's the one who came up with the story arc, ultimately. I'd love for the latter to be true, but I suspect the former. This is still very much his episode, though, with turns of phrase that are not Moffatish. There's one exchange in particular, most of the way through the episode, that I loved very much between the Doctor and Bill. It's nothing major, but it's just a tiny bit I thought was great. And all of the characters in Whithouse's script are quite good, and written quite well. (Again, who knows how much of this we can lay at Moffat's feet; there's a lot of continuity going on here.)

To be honest, it's character and dialogue that carry this one. The plot...is not as good, really. There are very few surprises once the story gets going, and the resolution is a bit rushed, so we can get to a very, very, very good denouement. But the characters (even the minor ones) and dialogue do carry us through very well.

Of course the real weakness is the antagonists. We do get to know a tiny bit more about them by the end, but they still remain an enigma. (Pun not intended. Well, now that I've thought of it, it may not have been intended, but I'll take credit for it, as it's funny.) To go into detail would be a bit spoilery, but I'll just say there have been some frustrations for me over the weeks regarding the baddies. But I'll let it go.

So, was this equivalent of an old six-parter a good 'un? Well, it's not up there with the classics, but yeah, it was. Not great, but good, and fun. And definitely worth watching.

NEXT WEEK: ICE WARRIORS! ICE WARRIORS!!! And...Victorian explorers on Mars?? It's "Empress of Mars" by Mark Gatiss!
2017-05-29 06:44 pm

Doctor Who 36.7--"The Pyramid at the End of the World" by Peter Harness and Steven Moffat

Ok, this episode is going to be extremely difficult to write about without spoilers, since it's a direct follow-on to last week. (And next week is a direct follow on to this week--yes, we have a good ol' six parter going on, with three different writers involved.) But I can answer the big question.

Peter Harness was previously responsible for writing...well, I'd call it the "most divisive," but it wasn't. Let's call it the "most controversial" episode of Doctor Who in recent years. I'm talking about "Kill the Moon," which didn't hold up to more than a moment's thought. For a lot of people, it's the nadir of the series as a whole (I still say "Love & Monsters" was that). So, the big question: Was this episode crap?

The answer is, no, it is not crap. Of course, I can't believe much of it was actually written by Harness and not Moffat. Moffat clearly had the central idea, laid the groundwork...and certainly did a final rewrite. The only idea I could find in it that definitely felt Harnessy was the idea that humans are responsible for deciding the fate of Earth. (Which was done in a much less silly way than in "KtM.") Other than that, it's pretty much Moffat all the way--for reasons I can't discuss without getting into spoilers. This is a clear example of a writer getting a detailed brief, then having had his script rewritten to fit better into that brief.

So, I suppose what I'm saying is yes, give this one a try. If only so you can get to next week.....

NEXT WEEK: The fallout from this week's episode, as we get "The Lie of the Land," from Mr. Toby Whithouse!! (Note no Moffat co-writing credit!)

And definitely feel free to begin a spoiler-filled discussion in comments!
2017-05-25 02:23 pm

May the Fortieth Be With You

"It was 40 years ago today
Luke, Han, and Leia taught the world to play
With big flashlights and their plastic toys
They taught us kids all kinds of joy
So now we have to celebrate
A film that's really so much more
Star Wars Episode Four!"

Of course, it wasn't "Episode Four" at the time. Forty years ago today, on May 25th, 1977, the movie I will always think of when someone just uses the words "Star Wars" was released. I had just turned five years old at the time, and (I must admit) I didn't see it in its first release. About a year later, in the spring or summer of 1978 (it is a bit hazy), my Uncle Bill took my older cousins and me to see the rerelease of a movie that he'd seen multiple times the year before.

It's worth noting that my experience in that movie theater in Chicago (no, I've no idea which one, but I'm pretty sure it was downtown) changed my life forever.

It's difficult to really explain the impact of Star Wars on people--especially people in their forties--to folks who didn't see it during the '70s. I mean, you hear it all the time: "There had never been anything like it." And I'm sure people under 40 or so believe that, but there's a visceral understanding that comes with actually having lived through Star Wars mania. This was before home recording, so movies were released, and then often faded. Star Wars didn't. It stuck around all summer, then it got rereleased the next year and stuck around again. Then it got rereleased again. And people kept going to see it.

Is it the most brilliant movie ever? Well, no, of course not. But, for the first time in a long time, it changed the way people saw movies. (And it obviously changed the way people made and marketed movies.) To call it a phenomenon is to understate Star Wars. The movie was everywhere--posters, commercials, toys (in 1978, anyway)....There had been no such thing as market saturation such as this. Star Wars made Jaws look like a small film--which, in 1976, no one would have been able to conceive. Star Wars made Gone with the Wind look like a small film, for god's sake. Suddenly, a movie invaded every aspect of our lives, from toys to posters to bedding to records (I still have my Star Wars story record!) to....well, everything! I remember the Burger King glasses. (We only had one for Empire and one for Jedi. Man, I wish I still had those; not because they'd be worth lots of money--they wouldn't--but because I loved them so.)

And then there's the movie itself. It was (and is) amazingly immersive. A lot has been said about the "lived-in universe" concept, and it's true. There's something more real about a somewhat grungy space fighter, one that looks like it's been around the block a few times, than a super-clean, perfect one (like, say, in Battlestar Galactica.) Ridley Scott would take that idea to the extreme with the Nostromo a few years later, but Star Wars was first. And the characters, as basic as they are, are incredibly appealing. It's ridiculously easy to get swept up in the story of Luke, Leia, Han, and the others. Darth Vader, in this movie, is the perfect villain, and Tarkin ain't bad either. And the effects! The whole thing felt amazingly real in a way that no science fiction film (not even 2001) had felt. It was mindblowing.

And I mean no offense to the under-40s at all when I say it's difficult for you to viscerally understand that kind of impact, when great effects and CGI have been taken for granted for decades. It just is. There's no way to explain how Star Wars affected people my age if you weren't there, I don't think, not when you can see something more technologically amazing on a TV commercial. Not when every big movie is treated as an Event, with marketing everywhere. In 1977-78, no one was expecting this. Star Wars was unprecedented.

Well, all right, I say no one, but a few people were expecting the movie to go over well. 20th Century Fox had sent groups to some science fiction conventions with posters and such. Roy Thomas at Marvel Comics staked his career (and, some say, Marvel's solubility) on the film's success. But, at best, everyone who cared thought it might do decent money. No one, no one, whatever they may say now, thought it would be...what it became before it was released. Even though by that date the fever was already beginning to mount....

And then May 25th, 1977 came, and lines stretched around blocks, and word of mouth went far and wide and...there we were. And, forty years later, here we are.

Is Star Wars responsible for my love of science fiction and fantasy? I wouldn't give it too much credit. (I reserve that for the "Hobbit" telefilm a few years later.) But, like millions of other little boys and girls, it certainly opened my mind to new horizons, new ways of viewing, new ways of seeing. And I wouldn't trade that for anything.

2017-05-22 07:00 pm

Doctor Who 36.6--"Extremis" by Steven Moffat

Well, that was...

Here's where the non-spoilers bit runs into problems. It's very difficult to talk about what I thought of this episode as a whole without getting into spoilers. So I'll do what I can, and try very hard to hint obliquely when I can't. Fair?

I very, very much liked the design of this episode. There was a lush feeling about it, especially the middle bit. I also enjoyed the acting a lot. Some of Moffat's script goes a bit over the top, but the acting? Never. The Doctor, Bill, and (especially) Nardole are excellent and believable. I actually enjoyed large parts of it a heck of a lot. I will say that I know certain people who will have issues with this episode about two-thirds of the way through, to which I say...keep watching to the end.

And, of course, there are a few ridiculous bits. Which is also fine; they fly by fairly quickly. (And Bill has a pretty big bedroom, I've got to say.) There is a plot thread in the episode that confirmed that I was absolutely correct about a plot thread in the season. But I was fairly impressed with this script, on the whole. I enjoyed it, mostly. It's one of those "consider it afterwards, rather than just in the moment" episodes. Could have been better named, though--especially by adding one word to the title.

Wow. What can I say? Well, the past few weeks have been "Doctor Who does X genre," right? I was actually surprised by what X was this week.

And I'm getting dangerously close to spoilers, so...I'd better cut it here. If you'd like, we can talk about it in the comments!

NEXT WEEK: Egypt! Land of the Pharaohs and..."The Pyramid at the End of the World," by (please let it not suck) Peter Harness and Steven Moffat. [nerdjoke]Man, wouldn't it be great if Colin Baker and Michael Keating showed up in it?[/nerdjoke]
2017-05-14 05:03 pm

Doctor Who 36.5--"Oxygen" by Jamie Mathieson

"Space. The Final Frontier."

If last week was "Doctor Who does Haunted Houses," this week could be considered "Doctor Who does Zombies." Now, I'm not the biggest zombie fan (that is, not the biggest modern zombie fan; I quite like the old, "voodoo" type zombie stories), but I have become a big "Jamie Mathieson writes Doctor Who" fan. "Mummy on the Orient Express" was fantastic, "Flatline" was excellent, and "The Girl Who Died" was quite a lot of fun (and co-written by Steven Moffat). So, does Jamie disappoint?

No he does not! This is a scary one. It's also an interesting one, with decent (if brief) world building, and more than a little bit of socioeconomic commentary. It's really fine base under siege stuff, frightening and claustrophobic. And, finally, Nardole has something to do other than to bitch! Admittedly, he does bitch a lot, but he's a lot of fun too.

Yes, the station crew aren't the best developed characters, but in the 40 minutes or so we're with them, we do care what happens to them. And, of course, you definitely care what happens to the Doctor, Nardole, and Bill.

As for the station itself, it's a magnificent model, or combo of model and CGI. The space effects are great, and the show looks wonderful.

Honestly, the only bad thing I can say is that this might give little ones some nightmares. This is really great Doctor Who, and I am just loving this season. As always, feel free to go spoilerific all over the comments.

NEXT WEEK: We will presumably continue with the repercussions of this week's episode...it's "Extremis" by Steven Moffat. I'll see you then!
2017-05-08 06:25 pm

Doctor Who 36.4--"Knock Knock" by Mike Bartlett

First thing's first. Always read the contract before you sign it.

Second thing's second. Poirot is in Doctor Who! Eeee!

Yes, David Suchet guest stars in this one, along with a passel of young actors. (I dunno, is 5 a "passel"?) It's written by Mike Bartlett, of whom I've not heard previously, so I had no preconceived notions. So, what did I think, in a spoiler-free kind of way?

At first, I have to admit, I was less than impressed. I don't know, I mean, it was cute, but I felt the characters were ill defined. But, as it got moving, I found myself enjoying it more and more, mainly due to those same characters! (Not to mention wonderful performances from Bill and the Doctor.) It's not the most brilliant work, but it's definitely a fun haunted house story, with a Doctor Who twist. (And much better than "Hide.") I just wish they'd give Nardole more to do!

So, the series continues true to form--decent, fun episodes. Not the most brilliant, but pretty darn fun. There's lots more to say, but it's all spoilerific, so...Comments, as before, are fine for spoilers!

(Wow, these non-spoiler reviews are fun and easy!)

Next week: My wish appears to be granted! It's off to space for the Doctor, Bill, and Nardole, but to live, they'll have to save their.... "Oxygen" by the great Jamie Mathieson! Cannot wait!
2017-04-30 08:09 pm

Doctor Who 36.3--"Thin Ice" by Sarah Dollard

Contrary to last week, I had high hopes for this one. Sarah Dollard's script from last series, "Face the Raven," was excellent, so I thought this week's episode had a chance of being excellent as well.

Annnnnd I'm not disappointed at all! While this may not have been the best episode of Doctor Who I've ever seen (since I've, y'know, seen them all in one fashion or another), it's certainly very, very good indeed! Capaldi is in total command of the part now. He is an amazing Doctory Doctor, and he gets some of the best moments he's had yet. (As well as one of the most controversial lines in the history of the show. Really. You'll know it when you hear it.)

And Pearl Mackie is a wonder. It has not escaped me that this season is very closely paralleling series 27/new series 1. In this case, though, we have a much more traditional Doctor-Companion team, which makes things the same, but very different. Bill gets some wonderful moments here, from questioning the past to questioning the Doctor.

This episode also has some of the most adorable children ever in the show, who (amazingly) do a fine job. They're not too much, not too little, and I thought it worked well. The plot may not have been revolutionary (really, not at all), but it was so well done that a wonderfully fun episode resulted.

So yeah. What did you all think? Spoiler warning in the comments!

NEXT WEEK: Bill's found a new house to share! And the Doctor wonders...it's "Knock Knock" by Mike Bartlett! And, the way this year's been going, I can't wait!
2017-04-24 06:42 pm

Doctor Who 36.2--"Smile" by Frank Cottrell-Boyce

I'm enjoying this new spoiler free format. We'll see how long it lasts.

Right. When I saw the preview for this one, I thought it looked like a cute, light episode. Then I saw the name of the writer attached, and I was left hoping it just wouldn't be terrible. (Cottrell-Boyce was responsible for "In the Forest of the Night," if you don't recall.)

Thankfully, what we got was kind of a cute, light episode. And yes, the technology was magic, but in a Clarke-type way, not in ItFotN's weird "trees make oxygen and it's magic, right?" way. This was by no means hard SF, but it was closer to some vaguely hard SF concepts (microbot builders) than Doctor Who often gets.

The story itself isn't tremendously deep, but it is enjoyable and has a few more twists and turns than I'd expected. And, really, this is the "Bill first goes out into space and time" episode, isn't it? Unlike a few others, most of the episode wasn't specifically about that, but Pearl Mackie did a great job of showing the wonder (and confusion, and concern, and terror) that should accompany someone's first real trip in the TARDIS.

Basically, I liked it. Liked the story, liked the setting, liked the Smile robots, liked some of the concepts. Dug the references buried in there. (Woo, Easter Eggs! And non-Doctor Who ones to boot...)

But it was still, for the most part, a by-the-numbers kind of story--one that most Doctors and Companions probably could have been dropped into. Enjoyable, definitely, but not one to leave a lasting impression. And to talk about its flaws would wind up being spoilers, so...to the comments, everyone! (And yes, I will try to actually participate/answer this week...I'm nowhere as sick as I was last week.)

NEXT WEEK: I'm....pretty sure the Doctor and Bill didn't land in Bristol in 2017. They'd better watch out for..."Thin Ice" by Sarah ("Face the Raven") Dollard!

The Doctor Who Review Depository is down for the moment, due to the move from Livejournal. I'll get it back up and running sometime soon.
2017-04-17 05:39 pm

Doctor Who 36.1--"The Pilot" by Steven Moffat

This was a great episode of Doctor Who. Fun, enjoyable, a wonderful addition of a new companion. It was a great introduction to Bill, and to the mysteries that will apparently surround this season.

It's possible that absence makes the heart grow fonder, and the head grow softer, but this might be my favorite episode in quite a long time. I'm going to keep things non-spoilery for a bit, for those who may not have seen the episode.

It took me about 3 minutes in to decide I love Bill as a character and a companion. She's smart and funny, but not obnoxious or bossy or any of the other things many companions before her have been. Not to say she's not assertive, she is, but that's not her dominating trait. And, thankfully, the Moff finally gives us a "less is more" view of a life...that works, unlike Clara's very confusing introduction. We find out all we need to know about Bill within the first 20 minutes (although there are still seeds for further mysteries), and it works. It helps that Pearl Mackie is really engaging and is clearly throwing her heart and soul into this.

As for the Doctor? Peter Capaldi has truly settled into the role in a way that he hadn't before, even last year. He's kind, witty, crazy, funny, a little bit frightening...it's a great evolution from his first season to here...and it gives one an idea of what Colin Baker hoped to do in the role, honestly. (For those who don't know, Baker's plan was to stay as long as he could and to begin as the abrasive Doctor we saw in his televised stories from season 22, gradually mellowing--which definitely started in season 23--into a kind, lovable Doctor. Kind of the way TV allows characters to do so now; he was definitely ahead of his time!) ANYway, this episode makes me even sadder to know Peter will be going at the end of the season, just when he's reaching a brilliant moment with characterization.

And Nardole...well, Matt Lucas is fun, and gets one of my very favorite lines in the episode, but I have no idea why he's there. Apparently, all will become clear as we go on. And hey, I like Nardole. He's fun, silly, perceptive as hell, and a good addition.

The story had nods to the past with a very definite look towards the future, and leaves us with as many longer term questions as it answers. It is, however, very much a "done in one" story, with hints at something bigger, so have no fears about that.

Anyway, a big recommendation from me. I just loved it. And I may post spoilery things later, but I wanted to leave this here so people could read without fear! Hmmm...let's say spoilers in comments, ok?

The Doctor Who Review Depository is down for the moment, due to the move from Livejournal. I'll get it back up and running sometime soon.
2017-04-04 04:24 pm

Bye-bye, Livejournal

Ok everyone, I've seen bits of the new ToS, and that's it for me. I don't trust the Russian Federation, I don't believe LJ will protect a damn thing. The days of fun and Frank the Goat are long gone.

At the end of this week, I'll be deleting my live journal. From now on, you'll be able to find me here at Dreamwidth. It'll take me a while to fix a bunch of back-links (I may not bother with anything but my Doctor Who reviews archive), but there we are.

I hope you'll follow me over at my new journal residence--and hey, if you get DW accounts, you can really follow me, if/once I start doing real, non-review, posts again.

See you on the flip-side, I hope!
2017-01-23 10:15 am

Seattle Womxn's March, January 21, 2017

(Note: I normally lock "personal" posts, but this one will be public.)

My lovely wife and I went to the Seattle Womxn's March last Saturday, an event held in conjunction with Marches around the country and the world. At last count, there were about 175,000 of us in Seattle alone, and several million worldwide. (As a note, that's the current count by the organizers, not city officials.) The marches were to protest the Trump administration (or, as I like to refer to him, "President" Traitor McDeadbeat) and its policies. I have a lot of things to say about that day.
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2017-01-15 09:02 pm

Yes, I've moved!

Or, I'm in the process, anyway, as the importing continues.

I know I don't post much at all, but I'll be damned if my blogging will reside on a Russian server, especially given what has happened over the last year. So, once this posts, you'll be able to find me at morganminstrel.dreamwidth.org. (Rather predictably.)

So, will this mean more posting, more updates? Truthfully, I have no idea. But I hope so; Facebook is nice, but it isn't really a blogging site.

But yes. Dreamwidth. A whole new world. My LJ will be sticking around for a bit, since it's essentially used as an RSS reader--assuming all of that doesn't transfer over to DW as well. But if you wanna find me, head on over. (I've imported all you friends in as OpenID folks, so I think you won't have to make accounts to see any of my locked posts....I think....)
2016-12-25 09:55 pm

Doctor Who 36.y--"The Return of Doctor Mysterio" by Steven Moffatt

Well, hello again, everyone! Before I begin, a request: I very seriously thought about not bothering to write anything up for this one. So, if you read and/or enjoy my thoughts about Doctor Who, please let me know. Thanks!

Ok, non-spoilery review: I've used the term "curate's egg" before, and I'd almost go so far as to use it now. That said, I liked quite a lot about this one...it just didn't quite work. It's possible that a longer running time (this was barely over an hour) might have helped, but I'm not sure. I guess it'll boil down to this: great baddies, great Doctor, slightly eye-rolling pseudo-B plot. It's honestly hard to say much more without spoilers, but I'd recommend watching it for the baddies and the Doctor/Nardole alone.

Ok, let's pull that cracker and make with the spoilers )

COMING THIS SPRING: Season 36! A new companion and a whole new set of eyes to view the wild, wonderful, and often terrifying universe! Bill joins the Doctor and Nardole in all new adventures--episode titles TBA! (Probably, to be fair, within the next couple of weeks...)

Click here for my previous Doctor Who episodes.

Oh, and for those who don't get the joke in the title, guess what Doctor Who was called when it ran in Mexico in the '60s? And guess what it's called in Spanish speaking countries now?
2016-01-22 06:03 pm

Doctor Who--New showrunner announced

So, in case you haven't heard, Steven Moffat has stepped down. I find it interesting that this has happened shortly after he publicly complained about the airtimes of the last series. For those who don't know, in the UK the show, while staying on Saturday nights, has the tendency to move around a bit timewise. Several episodes last year were on after eight o'clock, which is definitely too late for children...and overnight ratings went way down. (Consolidated ratings, including time shifted viewings, were much better, but still a bit down from previous years.) Moffat, a few weeks ago, said in several interviews that putting the show on that late was not his decision, and was the wrong decision, etc., etc.

And now he's gone.

On the other hand, it was more than time. To be honest, I would have thought he'd leave with Matt Smith, especially after some of the reportedly tumultuous production issues, or at least after Capaldi's first series. ("Doing a Derek Sherwin" is what I would have called that. But then, I'm a font of useless Who trivia.) But then, we wouldn't have gotten this past series, which was mostly very good indeed. (I need to watch the last few episodes again; I feel like, after reading several interviews and reviews, I might be able to process/like it a bit better.) Still, it was definitely time for him to go. Six series (including the one to come) is enough.

And, of course, we get Chibnall. Sigh. All the rumors pointed to Chris Chibnall taking over--rumors that had been around for months before the announcement, just as the rumors about Moffat taking over from RTD were around long before than actually happened. Chris Chibnall, writer of some ok Doctor Who ("42," mostly) and some really mediocre Doctor Who ("Dinosaurs on a Spaceship"). Showrunner for Torchwood, where, again, his writing/overall plotting was uneven. ("End of Days" was just terrible, for example.) Admittedly, he has a hell of a lot of experience running shows--Law & Order UK, and Broadchurch (which accounts for his "fair-haired boy" treatment by the Beeb), for example...but he's just not who I was hoping for. You all know who I was hoping for.

Toby Whithouse. Duh. He also has showrunner creds ("Being Human," anyone?), and he is an excellent writer. He was one of the best writers of this past series, in fact, and he clearly has a great vision for Doctor Who. But that is not to be.

My prediction: With Chibnall, we will get a show that is entirely conventional--at least for the new series. I suspect he will bring in some new writers that will give us a mostly perfectly acceptable, but not necessarily exciting, show. I really, really, really hope to be proved wrong. Prove me wrong, Chris!

As for this year....meh. We get "Class," the pointless spin-off ("kids at Coal Hill School battle monsters! without any of the characters we'd connect the school and the parent show with! It's for the kids! Right?"), and a Christmas special. That's right, no real Doctor Who on telly until Christmas. And no new series until spring of 2017--when Moffat will be able to cast one more companion and hopefully leave the series in a good place. With Capaldi? without? all we know is Peter is definitely staying through all of this next series...

Anyway, those are my thoughts. What about the 4-5 of you who still occasionally read this thing? What do you think?
2015-12-25 10:47 pm

Doctor Who 36.x-- "The Husbands of River Song" by Steven Moffat

Well, that was a bit silly, wasn't it? Yep, spoiler-free: silly, but fun.

And now, the spoiler-full )

COMING IN 2016: To be honest, I have no idea! But the Doctor will return in Doctor Who, series 36/10! Can't wait!

Click here for my previous Doctor Who reviews.