September 2014

Blogging Doctor Who, New Series 8

 

 

Little care from The Caretaker — Take One

Image: The Doctor with sign reading 'GO AWAY HUMANS'. Screenshot from 'The Caretaker'.

September 30, 2014, OTTAWA — The short version?

I really enjoyed "The Caretaker" when I watched it late Saturday night and into Sunday morning.

I'd been awake almost 20 hours when I hit Play, had worked 11 of those hours at the day-job and spent nearly two more riding to and from there on my bicycle.

I was tired, and I admit cracked a beer or three as I live-tweeted my first reactions.

To my regret, those tweets were an enthusiastic tailings pond spill I wish I could take back. But they do represent as "real" a reaction as my subsequent re-evaluation. And since I don't believe in censoring reality, they will stay on my Twitter timeline and live on also as a sidebar — pre-commentary, if you like — to my review.

The short version is that I thought the episode pretty awful when I watched it by sunlight. To paraphrase the blogger Patches365, it was a mean-spirited "tragedy of blunders" built on — not one — nor two, or even three — but four idiot plots. And it was an episode that tossed aside its best performer in favour of the cheapest of cheap laffs.

The long version? The long version lives on my site, of course, along with spite, spoilers and some thoughts on patterns as we reach the half-way point of what we can only hope will be Steven Moffat's farewell turn as Captain of the foundering ship Doctor Who.

Click here for Little Care — Take Two. Don't say I didn't warn you.

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Feels like a contractual obligation

Image: Clara looks resplendent in suit and tie.

September 22, 2014, OTTAWA — No real rant, certainly no rave.

I had a busy weekend, back at soccer on Sunday and entertaining (and being entertained by) an old friend come to town after far too long.

Still managed to check in on the latest episode of Doctor Who, but I almost wish I hadn't. I know I'm sorry I watched the episode a second time.

But I've made a commitment and I'm not breaking it. I live-tweeted the episode on Sunday morning and have added a few thoughts now. For the record, and probably for Geoffrey Dow completists only (dare I dream such folk exist?), click here for Time Waste.

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Watching "Listen" (again)

Image: Detail of the Doctor at the new Tardis control console. Screenshot from 'Listen'.

September 16, 2014, OTTAWA — The first time I watched "Listen", home after an 11-hour shift that followed an early rise, I wrote, "I definitely enjoyed it, definitely want to watch it again." I also wrote, "It sounds silly when I type it out, but [the story] gave me the shivers ..."

Well, hell. I did watch it again and now it seemed silly when I watched as well. There were no shivers to be found.

What was there was a mixed bag of an episode, combining Steven Moffat's still-effective skills at atmospheric scenes, with a show-runner's determined but mis-guided need to further place his singular stamp upon Doctor Who's canon of mythology and back-story, and proof (as if any more were needed) that as a writer, he gives not a single damn for story-logic.

You don't have to read my review if you don't want your fun spoiled, you know. You really don't. Spoilers (in both senses of the term) ahoy!

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Listen (to me!)

Image: Clara ponders date and Doctor in the Tardis. Screenshot from 'Listen'.

September 14, 2014, OTTAWA — I feel unesay.

Not because posting my inchoate, exhausted and half-drunk reactions to my first-watch of "Listen" makes me feel like an obsessive fan desperate to share his thoughts with all and sundry — although, clearly, that's what I am — but because I distrust the first reactions I so desperately want to share.

Yet here I am. Sharing my feelings instead of my thoughts, my knee's jerks rather than my practiced dance steps.

Steven Moffat has written an episode of Doctor Who that, on first viewing, I enjoyed quite a lot. I liked it. But — or should that be and so ...? — I feel uneasy. I am afraid of what judgement sober second thought may call down upon my first reactions.

So for now and for the record, those who care to read can find those first reactions here.

I liked it; what did you think? And do you think you're opinion will change when (if) you watch it again?

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Maidentrip: A girl's own adventure

  Image: Text, She sailed 27,000 nautical miles over 519 days  

14 year-old girl fights child-welfare authorities
in quest to sail solo around the world
waves goodbye at age of 14

Image: Poster of Maidentrip
Maidentrip: Buy it at Amazon.

September 13, 2014, OTTAWA — Adventurers have long held a special place in the public's imagination. Brave and determined or selfish and monomaniacal, according to one's tastes, they are larger-than-life figures, accomplishing impressive — if arguably pointless — feats. Climbing the highest mountain, sailing the widest ocean, risking (and often losing) life and/or limb and leaving wives and children behind to wait, to wonder, and to mourn.

Why do it? we stay-at-homes might ask. Why trek from one coast of Antarctica to the other after failing to be first to the South Pole? Why try, not once but three times to be the first to scale Everest?

There probably isn't a better answer than George Mallory's laconic reply to a reporter before he died on that third attempt to climb Mount Everest: "Because it's there."

We certainly don't get any more a revealing answer from Laura Dekker, who at the age of 16 years, 123 days, achieved her years' long dream by becoming the youngest person to ever sail, alone, around the world, but Jillian Schlesinger's documentary, Maidentrip about her voyage is a moving and fascinating film despite its lack of firm answers.

The bare facts make for quite a story, and though its subject has disavowed the resulting film, if there is a young woman in your life who could do with something other than a Disney princess or a Kardashian as inspiration, click here for one hell of a girl's own adventure.

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Blogging Doctor Who, New Series 8

 

 

The Doctor and the Outlaw

Image: Clara asks for the impossible dream - Robin Hood. Screenshot from 'Robot of Sherwood'.Travelling with the Doctor isn't enough. Clara longs for a real hero — Robin Hood! Screenshot from 'Robot of Sherwood'. Doctor Who Copyright © 2014 BBC.

September 9, 2014, OTTAWA — I don't know about you, but I can forgive quite a lot when I'm laughing. Plot holes, character inconsistencies, even magic arrows "Of Random Plot Resolution".

In other words, "Robot of Sherwood" was cracking good fun, a story that didn't take itself too seriously while still managing (mostly) to take the Doctor & Co. seriously enough. Our suspension bridge of disbelief swayed, but it did not snap and neither did it twirl.

Robot of Sherwood gifted us an episode rich with clever dialogue (banter, even), exciting and sometimes funny action sequences, good actors having a very good time performing a low-concept story (see its title) that far exceeded expectations.

Thank you, Mark Gatiss, for bringing fun back to the Tardis — and (oh, all right!) thank you, Steven Moffat, for staying the hell out of the way and letting it happen.

If you're old enough to remember (or like me, have travelled back in time to enjoy) "The Pirate Planet", you're almost sure to enjoy "Robot of Sherwood", and nevermind the lack of a tin dog or bird. Click here for the words of one critic clapping.

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The good, the bad and the Doctor

Image: The Doctor and the dalek. Screenshot from 'Into the Dalek'.

September 3, 2014, OTTAWA — I feel dirty, like I awoke alone after a night of passion to realize my inamorata's clever words were lies, that her body had stained my sheets and her gentle caresses had left indelible, greasy streaks all over my body. Though I cannot deny the passions I had felt in the dark, with morning's light comes the fear that my wallet, and even my closet, may be empty.

I liked "Into the Dalek" when I watched it the first time. I really did. Even enjoyed it when I watched it a second time. Yet, when I began writing about it, started to think about what it was that had entertained me, the flaws shone ever brighter, like stars appearing one by one after the sun has slipped below the horizon.

"Into the Dalek" is the kind of episode that seduces with surface charms, then laughs at our pleasures, mocks our innocent hopes. Slick enough to entertain in the moment, the story shrivels under the the light of critical consideration.

Sorry, folks. I really thought this would be a positive review for a change. It was only when I began to write, and to really think about what I had watched, that I realized I had been fooled again. After all, The only good dalek ...

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