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April 2013 | www.ed-rex.com


April 2013

Blogging Doctor Who, New Series 7

Of ghosts, of monsters, of hockey teams

A fan's faith, reborn

Les bleus, blancs et rouges, Habs logo.
Boo! Screenshot, Doctor Who: Hide

April 22, 2013, OTTAWA — I grew up during the 1970s and was a fan of the Montreal Canadiens (a professional (ice) hockey team, the only sport that really matters in Canada). The 1970s was a good decade to cheer for the "Habs"; les glorieux won the Stanley Cup in 10 of the first 14 years of my life.

Since then, they have drunk from that sacred Cup but twice, a bitter drought for those loyal followers who yet wave the bleu, blanc et rouge and who, each autumn, dream again the following spring will see a return to glory at last.

Saturday's episode of Doctor Who, "Hide", felt almost like I had (yes) been transported back in time and in space, to the Montreal Forum on the evening of May 21, 1979, to witness my team's 4th Stanley Cup victory in a row.

Doctor Who: Hide promo poster.

All right, I exaggerate. One episode does not a championship make. And maybe the metaphor doesn't entirely make sense. But neither, often, does logic in Doctor Who. So (as an American might say), sue me.

The conceit feels right to me — and besides, when was the last time someone discussed hockey and Doctor Who in the same place?

Point is, for this fan, the last few years following the Doctor has felt a lot like watching the Montreal Canadiens lose hockey games. The uniforms look more or less the same, and there's still a lot of travel involved, but victories are few and far between.

"Hide" was one of those victories. And a victory so convincing, this fan suddenly feels those naive hopes of a championship springing like wheat from an arid field. Click here to find out why. Far fewer spoilers than usual.

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Blogging Doctor Who, New Series 7

"The Cold War" weds mediocrity with subtle brilliance

Jenna-Louise Coleman becoming a revelation

Jenna-Louise Coleman as Clara, screenshot detail.

April 19, 2013, OTTAWA — Late again, I know. Life and an episode of back-aches has kept me busy.

And more, I found it hard to find my focus on this episode. An entertaining tale on the surface, dig just a little bit and you find in the Mark Gatiss-penned "The Cold War" only another stop on Steven Moffat's Travelling Medicine Show of Intellectual Horrors.

An idiot plot, in other words.

But there was an upside, beyond the mere fact this episode made for the second in a row that managed at least to be an entertaining distraction on first viewing. That is, that Jenna-Louise Coleman is starting to look like the best regular actor to grace this series since maybe as far back as Christopher Eccleson's turn as the Ninth Doctor, and certainly since Catherine Tate played Donna Noble.

I know, I know, it's early days, and so I stand to be corrected, but so far Coleman is doing remarkable things with often ludicrous material. "Click here to read more, and to watch a video aide. Spoilers, as always.

Post-scriptum: The aforementioned video is currently under review for copyright violation by Youtube. I've disputed the claim on the basis of fair use, but who knows how that will play out; if it stops working, please use the contact form to let me know. If necessary, I'll host it here on Rex and let the Beeb argue with me directly if they will.

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The return of The Droz Report:

No prayers for the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings

Photo by The Phantom Photographer; image manipulation by Geoffrey Dow.
Boston Marathon bombing aftermath

April 16, 2013, OTTAWA — Whenever my Facebook newsfeed starts filling up with prayers and expressions of shock and sadness about tragedy halfway around the world, I find myself wanting nothing more than to scream at all those well-wishers to shut the fuck up with their ritual grief, whether caused by a tsunami, a famine, a school shooting, a bombing in Boston ...

You got me. I'm already sick to death of hearing how you feel about the bombs that went off in Boston yesterday afternoon. Yes, it was an awful thing, but if you don't live there, or know people who were directly involved, I would prefer you keep your ostensible pain to yourself.

Offering up your prayers or good wishes might make you feel a little better, but it doesn't do any tangible good. And it's not like these things occur in a vacuum. Most of the major problems facing women and men in this world are caused by men and women. Even the damage caused by hurricanes usually has a human cause in there somewhere. And since that's almost always the case, platitudes aren't the answer, nor are prayers going to help.

Thinking might help. Political activism might help. Even donating to the Red Cross might help.

It's not the sincerity of the well-wishers that bothers me, but the lack of seriousness.

If you want my take on yesterday's terror attack, without a platitude in sight, click here. Comments, arguments and calls for my head are welcome.

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Blogging Doctor Who, New Series 7

"The Rings of Akhaten" is solid Doctor Who

Decent space opera fun is welcome tonic in a dismal era

The Rings of Akhaten, screenshot detail.

April 12, 2013, OTTAWA — I really enjoyed this episode on my first viewing and, despite hearing from some quarters that it was awful — worse even than "The Bells of Saint John" — I liked it well enough the second time 'round, too. But then I've always had a preference for off-Earth adventures and have a fondness for space stations, so possibly I cut it more slack than I otherwise might.

In any case, "The Rings of Akhaten" suffers from special effects more ambitious than successful and, maybe, from a script that was cut down hard to make a two-part story into a single episode, but still managed some decent space opera fun, a welcome dollop of secular-humanist scepticism courtesy of the Doctor and our first chance to get to know Clara Oswald as more than just a mystery with a fetching smile, but as a genuine character.

For my full review, visit "Good news from Akhaten, someplace (almost) awesome". Spoilers as per usual.

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Blogging Doctor Who, New Series 7

"The Bells of Saint John" entertains, but fails in the details

Clara meets the TARDIS. Screenshot, contents copyright © BBC.

April 5, 2013, OTTAWA — What is it with Steven Moffat and passivity as drama? It isn't just women in refrigerators or women happy to have been bounced back in time to live out their lives in a previous century, now it is the Doctor himself, literally waiting for the phone to ring in order to get our story started.

Passivity is looking less and less like unconscious misogyny and more like the mark of a writer unable to think of a more creative way to get to the parts of the story he thinks are "cool". Many have noted his treatment of women, but it seems a trope he uses to the point of exhaustion. Rory Williams anyone? And now the Doctor ...

In the opener for Series 7 (Er, 7.5, I guess), we're treated to the conceit that the Doctor has decided the best way to find someone is to hide away in a 13th century monastery and hope she comes to him. That it works is a given, else there'd be no story, but it's a pretty inane way of getting things started.

Not that I didn't enjoy "The Bells of Saint John"; I did — at least, on first go-round. For a bit of a wonder, Moffat's script moved along at a good clip and offered some tension and humour. But on second viewing, the story didn't make a whole lot of sense, which leaves me less than confident about the rest of this year's series.

My my full review, please see The Mad Monk meets the Lazy Writer (beware of spoilers!).

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