Taking Satisfaction

May
09

The Angels Take Manhattan (Series 7, Ep 5; 2012)
Viewed 16 Apr 2018

Doctor/Companion: Eleven, Amy Pond, Rory Williams, River Song
Stars: Matt Smith, Karen Gillan, Arthur Darvill, Alex Kingston
Preceding Story: The Power of Three (Eleven, Amy, Rory)
Succeeding Story: The Snowmen (Eleven, Clara)

    This coming weekend, I get to take my daughters to their first Doctor Who con—in fact, their first con of any sort since becoming fans of the show. As you may recall, the three members of the Paternoster Gang were slated to be the guests of honor, and I was trying to figure out how to give the girls enough background to appreciate said guests.

    Since then, Neve McIntosh (Madame Vastra)—the first of those guests to have been announced, as I recall—has had to cancel, and my kids have blown through so much Doctor Who that they've now seen not just one, but every extant episode in which the Paternoster Gang appears. I'm no longer worrying about their excitement for meeting these actors; now it's a matter of which Doctor do we watch next (and next, and next...).

    Not only are we watching lots of episodes together, but it's also been a ridiculously long time since the Ladies have gotten together to watch anything other than the most recent series (scheduling can be a real bear). And since a commenter suggested it might be fun to read more about what my daughters think about these new-to-them stories, I thought I'd choose a few during which to record their reactions and reboot the NuViews section of the blog in earnest.

    At the time I made that decision, we were in the middle of Series 7A. A Companion departure story seemed like a really good one to capture, so when it was time to watch The Angels Take Manhattan, I got out my clipboard and—with the girls' permission—started taking notes.

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    Four-gettable

    Apr
    25

    Review of Four to Doomsday (#117)
    DVD Release Date: 06 Jan 09
    Original Air Date: 18 - 26 Jan 1982
    Doctors/Companions: Five, Adric, Nyssa of Traken, Tegan Jovanka
    Stars: Peter Davison, Matthew Waterhouse, Sarah Sutton, Janet Fielding
    Preceding Story: Castrovalva (Five, Adric, Nyssa, Tegan)
    Succeeding Story: Kinda (Five, Adric, Nyssa, Tegan)

    When I selected Four to Doomsday (4tD) to appear in my series of stories with bad reputations, I suspect I had given it more bad-credit than it deserves. Perhaps it's because on first viewing I gave the physics of the climactic "Doctor uses a cricket ball to fabulous effect" moment such serious side-eye. Mostly, though, I think 4tD simply flies too far under the radar as a middle-of-the-road installment. It is so unremarkable as to be forgettable.

    The Doctor's first attempt to return Tegan to Heathrow Airport so she can finally start her new job goes (predictably) wrong, and the TARDIS crew lands instead on some sort of spaceship. The technology present is advanced enough to delight the Doctor and Nyssa as they explore. The crew soon find three slightly ominous beings in charge of the strange vessel. They introduce themselves as Monarch, Enlightenment, and Persuasion, and inform the Doctor that they are from the now-destroyed planet Urbanka.

    Meanwhile, the TARDIS team also find several people who are obviously from Earth, including an ancient Greek philosopher named Bigon, an Australian Aboriginal man named Kurkutji, one Princess Villagra of the Maya, and an imperial Chinese official named Lin Futu. The circumstances surrounding the presence of these people and their subordinates on a ship filled with (unseen) Urbankan refugees are part of the mystery to be solved.

    This is the Era of the Crowded TARDIS, with three full-time Companions to juggle, and this script does a surprisingly good job of it. The party gets split in a number of creative twists, and in various combinations. Each Companion has a different reaction to the situation, and we get some serious sparks between Tegan and Adric.

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    Confession #120: I Love a Retrospective

    Apr
    11

    My kids had spring break last week. We spent some lovely time with family members whom we don't get to see often enough, and returned home with a couple of spare days to laze around the house. The girls and I have been making our way through modern Who together over the past few months, and before we headed out of town, had reached the end of Tennant's run. Although they were resigned to the change, they were (much like their mom at that stage) not really ready to move on.

    However, with several more days of spring break stretched out in front of us, and the Smith era just waiting there invitingly, the girls decided to dive in. They grudgingly agreed to give this not-Tennant guy a try, knowing that eventually we'd roll back around to Capaldi (remember that they started modern Who by watching Series Ten), but they weren't harboring any high hopes.

    We started on Wednesday the 4th with The Eleventh Hour (S05E01, a day late for the eighth anniversary of its first broadcast) and binge-watched nearly two full series, finishing The Girl Who Waited (S06E10) by Sunday the 8th. That's twenty-four episodes in the span of five days—a serious feat, if I do say so myself. Somewhere in the middle they reached the fourth of the five stages of the Whovian's regeneration cycle (counting "Regeneration" as the first), though I don't know that they necessarily rank Eleven as their favorite. Still, they're on board with him being the Doctor, and they adore Amy, Rory, and River. Result!

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    It's the Pits

    Mar
    28

    Review of The Creature from the Pit (#106)
    DVD Release Date: 07 Sep 10
    Original Air Date: 22 Oct - 17 Nov 1979
    Doctors/Companions: Four, Romana II
    Stars: Tom Baker, Lalla Ward
    Preceding Story: City of Death (Four, Romana II)
    Succeeding Story: Nightmare of Eden (Four, Romana II)

    Looking over my spreadsheet of Classic stories I have yet to review, I can see that I've made some progress over the last seven-plus years. However, there are still a couple of Doctors whose runs are, proportionately speaking, underrepresented. So how do I choose which stories from those eras to review in the coming months?

    I decided to go with a theme of Bad Reputations.

    It was surprisingly easy to make suitable selections. You see, a person naturally gravitates towards the stories she likes when she has a choice of which ones to talk about. After all, if you have to watch something again to refresh your memory, it's no surprise the enjoyable ones rise to the top of the list. This far into the game, then, there are going to be a fair number of clunkers left. And since Verity! podcast last week released their interview with Lalla Ward from last November's LI Who, one of the stories discussed therein—Lalla's first one on set—seemed a perfect place to start.

    The Creature from the Pit (TCftP) has a well-deserved reputation. It is, hard as it tries, a hot mess from start to finish. K-9's voice is wrong (David Brierley voiced him for this single season instead of John Leeson); the folks on Chloris, the planet where the story is set, have precious little imagination ("We call it 'the Pit'" and "We call it 'the Creature'" are among the more scintillating lines of dialog...); and the plot ranges from poorly considered to straight up non-sensical. And all that says nothing of the Creature itself.

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    Confession #119: I Love Sharing Who With My Kids

    Mar
    14

    Over the last couple of weeks, I have had the immense pleasure of binge-watching Doctor Who with two members of the Target Market™. My daughters, who became fans by watching Twelve and Bill and later fell in love with Seven and Ace, have been getting up-to-speed on the modern storyline. It's been a richly rewarding experience for me to watch them watch Who.

    They liked Nine and Rose (especially Rose), and weren't so sure about this weird-looking replacement guy. Pretty soon, though, they were fully invested in Ten and Rose (especially Rose). When Doomsday rolled around, there was ugly crying—which, I have to admit, they come by naturally; that was pretty much me ten years ago, when I first saw it. RTD did his job well, ripping out their hearts. They just weren't quite ready for a new Companion.

    But then they got to know Martha, and let's be honest—she's actually pretty damn awesome. Soon they were just as attached to her as they'd been to Rose (or very nearly). And when we got to Blink—well. Let's just say all of their reactions were exactly what I imagine the production team envisioned with wicked glee as they wrote (Moffat) and created (RTD) the episode.

    As the Series Three finale approached, the girls got nervous. How would Martha's time with the Doctor end? They'd been burned before. One girl wanted me to tell her before we went any further; the other was in favor of a just-watch-and-see-how-it-plays-out approach (let no one ever tell you that identical twins are "the same"). I told the former in private just enough to satisfy her: after bad stuff happens, Martha chooses to stop traveling with the Doctor. Hers is the best departure (from the characters' POV) of the modern era.

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