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Tuesday, 1 January 2019

Episode #253 - Into the Dalek

                 The Doctor: This is Clara. Not my assistant. She's… er… some other word.
                 Clara: I'm his carer.
                 The Doctor: Yeah, my carer. She cares so I don't have to.

Episode #253:      Into The Dalek.
Companions:        The 12th Doctor and Clara Oswald.

Air Date:               30th August 2014.

Surrounded by his greatest enemies, the newest Doctor will journey into the most dangerous place in all of the universe. With the limits of his compassion being tested, the Doctor will be forced to ask a question about himself that he doesn't know: "Am I a good man?"

In this adventure, the Doctor and Clara find themselves being shrunk down and inserted into a supposedly "friendly" Dalek which has come to hate it's own kind. Once inside they must repair the damage effecting it and in hopes that it will remain friendly. Basically this story is quite reminiscent of the classic 4th Doctor adventure The Invisible Enemy, which itself was based upon the science fiction movie The Incredible Journey.

Into The Dalek is a good adventure as we get to see something new that we haven't seen before. It may not be the most original story but we've not see the inside of a Dalek before. If it has a downside it is simply that the story just goes from point A to point B to point C... and so forth. It's just far too linear with little get up and go. But by the stands of modern Who it's fairly typical in that regards. It just doesn't provide an all that interesting story.

One element that I really do like with this one and it is a staple of the Capaldi era is how the writers continue to play with the Doctor in ways that help us understand him more, especially the post Time War him. In this instance it's that despite being our hero and wanting to help, the Doctor is consumed almost by his hatred of the Daleks. Nothing new there but it is perhaps handled better in this story than it has in other previous ones. There is also a sudden and previously unseen mentality where he doesn't like soldiers. This may just be a part of this incarnation but previously he never had an issue with his friends from UNIT. Just seems a bit odd and part of the emerging storyline for Clara's new love interest at Coal Hill school, Danny Pink.

We also have another snippet with the mysterious lady in black and we have a name now, Missy. There was much internet debate about this but I think we all worked out who is was very quickly. For spoilers sake I won't give it away here just in case you haven't seen the episodes for the rest of this series.

This incarnation of the Doctor grew on my very quickly and the dialogue between him and Clara is especially witty. The quote at the top of this page is one of my favourites and I think sums up all regenerations of the Doctor very well.

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Episode #252: Deep Breath

"I'm the Doctor. I've lived for over two thousand years, and not all of them were good. I've made many mistakes, and it's about time I did something about that. Clara, I'm not your boyfriend."

Episode #252:      Deep Breath.
Companions:        The 12th Doctor and Clara Oswald.
Air Date:              23rd August 2014.

Shortly after his regeneration, the Twelfth Doctor arrives in Victorian London, and Clara Oswald struggles to embrace the new man the Doctor has become. All the while, they reunite with the Paternoster Gang to investigate a series of combustions that have been occurring all around the city.

And so begins the 12th Doctor's era on the show and what a great start it is. Deep Breath is a bit of a rather odd story though. Since the end of The Time of the Doctor, somehow he and Clara ended up back in the Mesozoic, swallowed by a dinosaur (and that is enormously incorrect in it's size) and somehow time travels with it to the Victorian era where robots are stealing body parts. By Doctor Who standards it's probably just another Saturday.

The Doctor's new persona is quite similar to that of the 1st Doctor, in that he is rather a grumpy grandfatherly figure. A bit rude perhaps but also funny. I had wondered whether this was intentional as this is a brand new reset of regenerations. I don;t know whether that was the case but it seems to fit the new personality.

The new element of this story is that the robot body part thieves aren't just a random villain for a one off post-regeneration story. They are in fact connected to a previous story The Girl in the Fireplace. You may remember that one as the story where the 10th Doctor, Rose and Micky fought time travelling robots using body parts to fix their ship. While not from the SS Madame de Pompadour, they are from the sister ship SS Marie Antoinette. It's a nice tie in to a previous story.

Part of the story that doesn't really work for me is Clara at the beginning of the episode. In her recent adventures she has had to deal with the concept and actuality of Time Lord regeneration and yet she seems to not understand it now where the Doctor is concerned. The writers try to make this seem about her being in love with the 13th Doctor and wanting him back over an old man, but it doesn't come off that way to me at all. It takes a final moment of the episode to reconcile this which it does to an extent.

The adventure is a good one. It has adventure, action, excitement, humour and a slight bit of horror. It has some great dialogue too, from Clara's logic about torture to the final unanswered confrontation between the Doctor and the half-faced robot. Even the phone call from the 11th Doctor is a good emotional ride. Eventually it ends with a bizarre twist involving a mysterious woman named Missy in some sort of "afterlife". An interesting set up for later in the series.

A great start to the new series and a new Doctor.

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Episode #251: The Time of the Doctor

We all change, when you think about it. We're all different people all through our lives. And that's okay, that's good, you've got to keep moving, so long as you remember all the people that you used to be. I will not forget one line of this. Not one day. I swear. I will always remember when the Doctor was me. "

Episode #251:      The Time of the Doctor.
Companions:        The 11th Doctor and Clara Oswald.
Air Date:              25th December 2013.

Orbiting a quiet backwater planet, the massed forces of the universe's deadliest species gather, drawn to a mysterious message that echoes out to the stars - among them, the Doctor. Rescuing Clara from a family Christmas dinner, the Time Lord and his companion must learn what this enigmatic signal means for his own fate and that of the universe.

At the end of Matt Smith's time on Doctor Who we nice big Christmas special that not only wraps up a number of open mysteries but sees him regenerate into his 12th/13th incarnation in the form of Peter Capaldi. We finally see the outcome of the crack in the universe that appeared in his first season, the question hidden in plain sight and the answer to just how many regenerations does a Time Lord actually have. All wrapped up in a nice package.

While it starts off in the usual way of Christmas specials being set on Christmas it thankfully does not stick to it like previous specials did. It moves away from that to being set in a small town called Christmas instead which although strange doesn't feel like the Christmas element is being shoved in your face. Just for that immediately it gets a thumbs up.

The story shows us what is supposed to have happened to make Trenzalore look like it did when we last visited it with The Great Intelligence. A mysterious message is cast through all time and space through the crack in the universe which when translated turns out to be a question that only the Doctor can answer - his name. Hence I suppose why the show is (retconned here) called Doctor Who I guess. When the assembled alien menaces attack the town of Christmas is saved by the Doctor and his tenuous allies from the Papal Mainframe - the Silence - over and over again through the centuries until the Doctor is an old man at the end of his life. Although since events played out differently than we saw in The Name of the Doctor does that mean that The Great Intelligence is not dead after all and could return? Good question.

Importantly we learn that a Time Lord does indeed just have 13 lives and the rumours of that going around since the latter years of the 4th Doctor are true. Thankfully the Time Lords intervene and present our hero with a whole new set of lives. They promised the Master the same thing in The Five Doctors had he been successful. Speaking of which, we see once again the seal of the high council that the 5th Doctor took from the Master in that story. Nice bit of throwback there.

The story itself is good, exciting and emotional at the end. It is fun which is what I would expect from a Doctor Who special at Christmas. However it does get a little silly in places again. Wooden cybermen and sontarans reduced to a cheap laugh especially did not sit well with me. It seems that the Sontarans haven't been given a serious appearance since the reappeared in The Sontaran Stratagem and The Poison Sky under the 10th Doctor.

It is a shame to see Matt Smith go as although I was not convinced when he was first announced he grew on me very quickly. His first few moments in The Eleventh Hour really enamored me to his character. Even now I do miss him. He is probably my favourite modern Doctor to date. The end of an era. Let's see where we go from here.

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Episode #250 : The Day of the Doctor

"I've had many faces, many lives. I don't admit to all of them. There's one life I've tried very hard to forget. He was the Doctor who fought in the Time War, and that was the day he did it. The day I did it. The day he killed them all. The last day of the Time War. The war to end all wars between my people and the Daleks. And in that battle there was a man with more blood on his hands than any other, a man who would commit a crime that would silence the universe. And that man was me."

Episode #250:      The Day of the Doctor.
Companions:        The 10th Doctor, The 11th Doctor, The War Doctor and Clara Oswald.
Air Date:              23rd November 2013.

The Doctors embark on their greatest adventure in this 50th anniversary special. In the 21st century, something terrible is awakening in London's National Gallery; in 1562, a murderous plot is afoot in Elizabethan England; and somewhere in space an ancient battle reaches its devastating conclusion. All of reality is at stake as the Doctor's own dangerous past comes back to haunt him.

It's all been building to this, the 50th anniversary episode of Doctor Who. It has certainly been worth the wait. Moffat did not disappoint with this one. The story revolves around the War Doctor really, as he steals an ancient Time Lord weapon called The Moment and plans to use it to destroy the Daleks and his own people. The Moment, however, is sentient and tries to show the War Doctor what will happen if he uses it. Somehow able to manipulate events so that the War Doctor joins with his 10th and 11th selves. Lets him see who he will become if he uses the weapon and on a side adventure stops a bunch of Zygons from taking over the Earth.

The Zygon plot is a little shoehorned in as a means of getting the Doctors together and getting them to where they need to be. It is nice to see the Zygons return though as another throw back to the classic show and we learn about their world being destroyed in the Time War. That ties in well with the events from Terror of the Zygons.

The real story is about the Time War and it is long overdue in coming. Although we still don't know about the strange horrors of the Time War we do at last see the Time Lords and Daleks fighting it out. This has been hinted at for years so it is nice to see it visited for the anniversary episode. In any case, it does the story justice and again we learn more about the Doctor though this. The more the show continues the more we are being shown about the Doctor's life and who he really is, and whatever you may feel about Russell T Davis and Steven Moffat, you can't fault that they have done wonders pushing that aspect of the show in a good way.

The culmination with the appearance of all 13 Doctors is just a huge squee moment. I remember watching this episode on the TV and just getting so excited, especially with the brief appearance of the 13th Doctor! I still get some of that excitement watching it still.

Another really cool thing about this episode was that it was broadcast to UK cinemas at the same time as it went out on the air. I didn't manage to go see it there but that is a great idea for the BBC to do.

This is a really fantastic adventure and it fully lives up to the title of a 50th anniversary episode. This is one you have to watch.

Episode #249 : The Last Day

"Nothing can get past a Sky Trench. But if just one Dalek made it through, it could destroy this entire city. That's all it would take, one Dalek. One Dalek, acting alone, and we're finished."

Episode #249:      The Last Day.
Air Date:              20th November 2013.

A Gallifreyan soldier undergoes initiation in the use of a headcam, as well as the defence of Arcadia. During his training, the impossible happens and Daleks invade.

The Last Day is a short mini-episode similar to The Night of the Doctor except this one does not feature the Doctor but instead shows us the beginning of the Dalek invasion of Gallifrey. We see it from the point of view of a new recruit on the day everything goes wrong.

There is nothing really to report about this one. It is just a little teaser in the run up to the 50th anniversary episode. The BBC could have done better with this but I guess they blew the budget with the return of Paul Mcgann in the previous teaser. It's a nice touch but easily avoided. Just go straight to The Day of the Doctor.

Friday, 30 June 2017

Episode #248 : The Night of the Doctor

"Four minutes?! That's ages! What if I get bored, need some books, a television? Anyone for chess? Bring me knitting."

Episode #248:      The Night of the Doctor.
Companions:        The 8th Doctor.
Air Date:              14th November 2013.

Still trying to skirt around the edges of the Last Great Time War, the Eighth Doctor is forced to fully join the conflict by the mysterious Sisterhood of Karn. Killed while trying to save a woman who hates him simply for being a Time Lord, the Doctor gets to choose what his next incarnation will be like. He arranges for a warrior... but makes the darkest sacrifice of his life in order to be reborn.

So this is a short, the first of two, to serve as a prequel to the 50th anniversary special and it brings with a special treat for us fans, we finally get to the see the 8th Doctor regenerate. Sort of. For some time now the fan base had been discussing what had happened to the 8th Doctor after his one appearance and then countless audio dramas (and whether they were canonical or not). At last we learn what happened.

We also get a reappearance of the Sisterhood of Karn, not seen since the 4th Doctor story The Brain of Morbius. While that may mean nothing to the casual modern view to us old school fans of the show, it's an exciting element. I do think we need more references to the days of the original show. I've said quite a few times on this blog and I don't expect to not keep saying that. The Sisterhood hasn't changed much from what we see and they are ready to intervene in the Time War. They do this by saving the Doctors life and giving him the opportunity to choose his next incarnation. So perhaps the fault is not with the War Doctor but with the 8th incarnation. He chooses to be a warrior and regenerates into a younger version of the War Doctor, meaning that he has been fighting the Daleks for some time.

The Night of the Doctor is only a short film running seven and a half minutes but it is really well done and helps cement where we last saw the Doctor prior to his 9th self appearing in Rose.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Episode #247 : The Name of the Doctor

"You didn't listen, did you? You lot never do. That's the problem. The Doctor has a secret he will take to the grave. It is discovered. He wasn't talking about my secret. No, no, no, that's not what's been found. He was talking about my grave. Trenzalore is where I'm buried."

Episode #247:      The Name of the Doctor.
Companions:        The 11th Doctor and Clara Oswald.
Air Date:              18th May 2013.

A prophecy is coming true. The Eleventh Doctor is summoned to Trenzalore where it was said he would fall. But what does the alleged site of his final battle have to do with the mystery of Clara — or is it Oswin — Oswald? Can the Paternoster Gang help him avoid his apparent destiny? And most of all...Doctor who?

What a fantastic ending to this season of the show. We get a host of the Doctor's friends together, the return of the Great Intelligence, the final revelation of what and were Trenzalore is and at last the resolution to the impossible girl story line.

It is difficult to explain how good this story is because it isn't any one thing. It's the emotion, the perfectly written scenes and dialogue and the awe moments when everything starts to come together. I have said it before and I'm repeating it now, when Stephen Moffat really puts his mind to it we get some phenomenal episodes. The Name of the Doctor has it all whether you are a modern fan or a classic one. The brief flashes of the old incarnations really gives me the giddy feelings watching this one.

But who is the mysterious Doctor not spoken about? And what a coup getting esteemed (now late) actor John Hurt in for that role is just a masterstroke. That all gets explained soon enough as well. You have to remember that this was leading up to the 50th anniversary episode and we're in for a wild ride.

Anyway, getting away from the excitement, the final set up for the overarching plot this season brings us finally to Trenzalore. This planet was mentioned by the headless Dorium during his "doctor who?" prophecy at the end of A Good Man Goes to War. The Great Intelligence has planned all this to get his revenge on the Doctor for thwarting his schemes. His plan being to enter the Doctor's time stream and cause his adventures to fail although this will destroy him. Clara realizes that the "impossible girl" is her existing in all the Doctor's time lines helping him out and stopping the Great Intelligence. Quite clever really although it does in my mind cause a few little paradoxes not to mention that this future for the Doctor and Trenzalore will never come about.

The Name of the Doctor is a great ending to the story arc and is a nice stepping stone to what comes next.