“Hide” is probably not going to be remembered as a New Who classic the way “Blink” will be, but it has my vote for the best story of series 7 thus far. While I greatly admired “Asylum of the Daleks,” Moffat tried to pack oodles and oodles of stuff into it, and as a result, it felt a bit overstuffed, even if it did put its finger on a couple key veins running throughout the series and tap them brilliantly. “Hide” is also a bit overstuffed, but it feels complete and satisfying in a way that none of the other episodes has so far. (Kudos to writer Neil Cross for nailing the second time out!)
Charlie Jane Anders complains a bit that “Hide” exemplifies the trend in recent Who that “every story is a love story.” A true enough observation, but in the case of this particular episode, I don’t see it as a weakness. On the contrary, I think it grapples with this theme rather meaningfully while delivering some grand moments. (Spoilers after the jump!)
The Doctor tops io9′s list of 8 Epic Heroes Who Committed Mass Murder. Just so. The case for (against?) him:
For a character who frequently makes moralistic pronouncements and shows plenty of righteous indignation towards other people’s actions, he is probably responsible for more deaths than any action hero or horror icon of the 1980′s. [...] In his 1103 years, the Doctor has racked up a body count that could be conservatively tallied in the trillions. It’s gotten so bad, for a while he was able to defuse any potential conflict by doing nothing more than introduce himself.
And now that he’s gone off grid with the whole faked-death thing, not even his reputation can hold him accountable to what he chooses to do. Prepare yourself, universe, for the Doctor unbound.☕
“Spoilers!” – Dr. River Song
This may be the best Dalek story since the relaunch of Doctor Who. Don’t get me wrong: there are things I didn’t like about it. Amy divorcing Rory because she can’t conceive a child for him? Ehwhat? Rory harping on Amy to have more kids, given what happened with Melody/River? Rory waiting two thousand years and then letting her go? Good heavens. Not to mention that the whole divorce subplot sort of makes you wonder what all those amusing “Pond Life” shorts were about. Did Amy draw up the divorce paperwork inside of, what, a week? Is that how fast no-fault divorces go now? None of this made much sense. As much as I love Amy and Rory as a couple, the fact that Moffat is now reduced to splitting them up and reunited them within a single episode testifies that there’s not much more material to be mined there. I’ll be sad to see them go, but it’s about time. The one cool thing that came out of the Pond divorce is the bit where the Doctor places the anti-nano cloud wristband on Amy before she even realizes it. Earlier, she’d told him that he can’t fix her marriage the same way he fixes his bow tie. Then, he puts them in a situation where he knows they’ll sort themselves out, and we get a shot of him pausing to adjust his tie in front of a camera. That’s one of the reasons that this is sort of a great episode, even with its flaws: it resurrects the ambiguous nature of the Doctor’s do-gooderism and puts it on trial. Continue reading
My favorite bit is Amy stealing Rory’s breakfast sausage. Husbands everywhere ought to relate to that.☕
What, no room for the original UK Avengers? Sheesh. Still, I’d pay to see it twice. A day.
Gallifreyan via Hello Sweetie.
The indispensable Blogtor Who describes “Paradise Towers” as “an absolute stinker, a sign of the times that spewed it – but that’s also what makes it such an intriguing watch. It’s the decline of the Eighties in front of your very eyes.” His discussion is nuanced, appreciative, and ultimately disappointed in the final product. All told, that’s entirely fair, but even though he describes the DVD as a “fascinating release,” the overall impression of his review doesn’t convey that as much of an actual recommendation. I’d like to argue that its ultimate failure makes it almost essential. Continue reading
I finally got around to watching Wheels on Meals (1984) in its entirety (thank you, Netflix streaming!). Apart from the sheer glory that materializes every time you put Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung, and Yuen Biao on screen together, Benny Urquidez blew a hole in the space-time continuum. No, not with his jaw-popping high kicks, but with his wardrobe. The first time he showed up, I did a double-take and shot my wife a single, dazed question, “Why is Benny the Jet dressed like the Eleventh Doctor?” Continue reading
Amy Mebberson is freaking awesome.
I know I’ve been MIA for the last few weeks. I’ve got several posts in the works, including reactions to the new Who episodes, but this was too great to pass up. I caught Mebberson’s latest masterpiece on io9, and it seemed like a good opportunity to tell anyone who’s reading this blog to check out her stuff. The pic is linked to her Tumblr account, but check out her blog and DeviantArt pages as well. Lots of great stuff in there. Just for reference, I jotted down a list of who’s Who in the pic. I believe I’ve got it all correct, but let me know if I’m wrong. Continue reading
I suppose I knew, somewhere in the recesses of my cavernous skull, that the era of the Seventh Doctor was epically nasty. Seeing it all collected in one place — and hearing it scored by Clint Mansell and the Kronos Quartet — has given me a new, profound fear of panama hats. H/t Babelcolour, whose tributes for the First, Second, and Third Doctors are also highly entertaining, and a little less heavy on the ‘splosion sauce. ☕
-Dr. River Song
Yeah, okay — there’s a lot of padding here. Lots of chasing about or debating the morality of armed conflict from the relative safety of a fortified room, when we know that this is all just killing time until Something Big happens. Matthew Graham took a lot of heat for writing “Fear Her,” which is not actually a terrible episode. I rather liked that the monster of that particular week turned out not be a horrible monster; the episode was imaginative and nonsensical. Perhaps not very tight, but memorable. Maybe the backlash against that episode is what persuaded Graham to dig deep into Who history and come up with a story that… is strongly reminiscent of the Silurian stories from Pertwee and Smith’s respective first seasons. I’ll be honest: I wasn’t really looking forward to a two-parter of the Doctor running around crying, “Why can’t we all just get along?!” That never works out for him. (“Doctor’s Daughter,” anyone?) The brilliance of the “The Rebel Flesh” and “The Almost People” is that its moral probing is augmented by that delicious twist at the end of the first episode: the Doctor finding himself literally on both sides of the divide, which an emotional stake in whether or not the characters around him buy into his self-righteous sermons. On top of all that, the entire thing leads up to yet another stunning twist that underlines and undercuts the (often literal) hand-wringing that preceded it.
-Dr. River Song
Great casting is when an actor fits his role so perfectly that you feel like you’ve seen that person before — at the grocery store, passing by on the sidewalk — even if you have, in fact, never seen that person before in your life. As it turns out, I had never seen Adrian Schiller (Uncle), though I felt sure I had. Then there are the people you’ve seen, but there’s no reason you should remember, like Elizabeth Berrington (Auntie), who has been in several notable films and shows, but of the ones I’d seen, she did not play major roles. That’s also great casting. But perhaps the greatest casting — let’s call it Sublime Casting — is when an actor fits his role so perfectly that you feel like you’ve never seen that person before, even if, in fact, you know the person intimately, or have seen them very recently. As it turns out, I’d seen Suranne Jones not more than a few months ago, when my wife and I watched series 3 of The Sarah Jane Adventures. She played Mona Lisa, a deliciously batty and malevolent monster-of-the-week that made me sit up and go, “Wow. What a great villain of the week.” You’d think that I would recognize someone I had seen so recently, and of whom I’d thought so highly. Nope. Instead, Jones gave the best kind of performance in this last week’s episode: the kind that, no matter how many times you watch it, feels like a total revelation. Continue reading
-Dr. River Song
You remember the Doctor from Star Trek: Voyager, don’t you? “Please state the nature of your medical emergency.” It blew my mind that he was the monster of the week in this week’s episode, and that Robert Picardo now looks like Lily Cole. (His singing voice isn’t bad, either.) The Doctor — our Doctor — doesn’t get to meet a lot of other doctors in his line of work. At least, not ones that are as mysterious to him as he is to everyone else. Certainly not many that are willing and able to burn your face off with a Ha-Do-Ken. Definitely none that spend their time terrorizing pirates. Continue reading
-Dr. River Song
“Okay, kid: here’s where it gets complicated.” You may remember that as one of the best lines of last season’s finale. Amy Pond astonishes her younger self (and the viewer) by not only appearing in the Pandorica (where we thought the Doctor was locked up for eternity), but by being alive, when we had seen her get killed in the previous episode. Steven Moffat plays fast and loose with the rules of closed-loop circular logic; it’s one of his trademarks. The man loves to exploit the premise of time travel by telling stories the way magicians dazzle crowds with elaborate illusions. There may be no mystic substance to his gamesmanship, but if you’re willing to suspend your disbelief, he can mesmerize you with no shortage of wonderful tricks. Of course, the only way smoke and mirrors work is through misdirection: a great illusionist needs to keep an audience on its toes, and Moffat’s preferred method is to structure his stories in such a way that we won’t know what the heck is going on until the very end, and after that, going back and putting the pieces together is almost as much fun as having been bamboozled in the first place. As I said earlier: it’s like lost, except you know that it’s all going to make sense. Within limits, at any rate. Continue reading
Stetsons are cool. But not as cool as fezzes. Sorry, Professor.
- Dr. River Song
Is it too much to hope that the snippets of the Doctor’s deliberately outrageous escapades throughout human history are just teasers for elements of later stories this season? The only thing cooler than Steve McQueen (almost) escaping from a WWII prison camp is the Doctor (actually) escaping from a WWII prison camp. I doubt that even Steven Moffat would be brassy enough to have the Doctor and friends cavort with Laurel and Hardy — not because it wouldn’t be cool, but because he’s probably mindful enough of the contemporary audience to realize that they wouldn’t know who the hell Laurel and Hardy are. But a throwaway gag like having the Doctor (in a fez, natch) show up in one of their films is a brilliant connection of continuity: the daffy, sardonically tetchy spirit of that comedy duo lingers on into the 21st century in the form of a time traveling alien. Continue reading