I was pretty disappointed when I heard that Matt Smith is leaving Doctor Who in this year’s Christmas special. Not upset — he’s given us what I consider to be the definitive New Who Doctor, and if he wants to take a bow while he’s still in peak form, I can’t blame him. Not to mention that it’s always exciting to anticipate what fresh face we’ll get to see next. But I’m still disappointed. Smith is such a joy to watch, and he’s done such a great job bridging the feel of classic and new Who in his performance that I had been hoping to see him grow with the role for a few more years, especially since he started so young. Though he might pop in here and there in the future, his era is coming to an end, and it’s a bit of a shame that we won’t get another year or two out of him.
But this news, if true, could very well make up for it. I’ve tried listening to the audio recordings of some of those missing episodes. It’s just not the same. Half the reason (possibly the biggest reason) to watch the classic episodes, apart from the imagination and wit of their better scripts, is to relish the performances. The core cast members especially are often doing quite a lot with their roles, and nobody more so than the people playing the Doctors. Finally getting to see such ballyhooed stories as “Evil of the Daleks” would be a real treat. I’ll definitely be keeping an ear to the ground on this rumor. Via io9. ☕
“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!)
“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.☕
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
-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