This Is the Home That George Built

Sep
07

Review of Night Terrors
Warning:  This review contains episode-specific spoilers and wild speculation about future episodes.

I'm not a fan of the horror genre, and last week's trailer did not inspire me. Further, given that Mark Gatiss's scripts have been very hit-or-miss for me (loved The Unquiet Dead, was so-so about The Idiot's Lantern, and abhorred Victory of the Daleks), I was rather apprehensive about what all that boded for the quality of Night Terrors. Although it wasn't my all-time favorite, it was much better than I'd allowed myself to expect.

I think perhaps I am the target market for the level of horror the Doctor Who team aims to maintain. In other words, I can handle about as much as the average eight-year-old. A little tension is good, but more than the predictable "boo!" moment upon opening a door, drawer, or what-have-you makes me too uncomfortable to watch. Thus, the horror factor in Night Terrors was just about perfect for me. Nothing truly unpredictable ever came of one of those instances, and the scene in which the landlord succumbs was just oogy enough to give me the creeps. (I had a moment of cognitive dissonance there, too - I first thought the shot of his hand morphing was Rory's going all Auton on us again. That didn't make sense, but the visual similarity was striking.)

Aside from these rather typical Who features (scaring the crap out of little kids with cool-looking monsters),  the story had several elements that we've seen woven throughout the Moffat era: fear emanating from a child's bedroom (The Eleventh Hour), a crack in the wall (Series Five; check the early scene when the old neighbor lady is walking down the hall), and old people as source of fear (Amy's Choice), to name the most obvious. I suppose in this child-heavy series, we're supposed to start wondering more about the Doctor's own parenthood and where his cot comes in. However, I was happy - for once - to be enjoying a story for itself, without any other Context getting in the way.

Categories: 

Gallifrey, Ho!

Sep
02

I've made a decision, and committed to the Plan: I'm headed to Gallifrey One 2012 in February! It will be my first ever Doctor Who convention (or, umm... any convention, for that matter).

If you like what I've been doing here and would like to live vicariously through me as I blog about my Con experiences - including, hopefully, meeting some of the Names who will be there (like Paul McGann, the Eighth Doctor himself) - please consider showing your support by contributing to cover my expenses. To the right, you should see a Send me to the Con! button. Clicking that will take you to a page where you can choose any amount you'd like to give (it will go into the Neowhovian PayPal account, but you don't need your own PayPal account; credit cards also work).

Once I've reached my goal (a relatively modest $500), I'll remove the button and stop taking contributions. There's no need to be overly greedy, after all. In the meantime, I'll keep writing the reviews you've come to expect, which you will hopefully continue to find entertaining and/or insightful.

Thanks for reading the blog!

Same Song, Different 'Verse

Aug
31

Review of Let's Kill Hitler
Warning:  This review contains episode-specific spoilers and wild speculation about future episodes.

There was a lot going on in this episode. People (aka "fans," aka "bloggers") complain a lot about the sense of pacing in Moffat's writing - how he seems to cram too much into the second half of a two-parter, for example - and I don't see that changing in regards to Hitler. But for the front end of River Song's story - from her perspective, anyway - we can hardly expect anything else.

I'll admit it: by the time the opening credits rolled, I was thinking, "oh, god... this one's going to be rubbish." I certainly didn't buy into the best-friend-we've-never-come-across-before thing, either. Before I could get too cranky about that, though, Moffat threw a bone to fandom with the temporal grace comment. "Hmmm..." I thought. "Maybe there's hope for the episode yet."

Once Rory got not only to punch Hitler but also to tell him to shut up, I was ready to roll with it. Anything that allows me to see Rory the Badass Roman lurking under that modern exterior is going to earn a few squee!'s from me (e.g., tricking an officer into saluting long enough to deck him and steal his bike, or even just taking the mickey out of his wife a bit by mimicking her accent back at her ("'Clues'? What kind of 'clues'?")). I like that the character development we've seen has been kept and expanded, so that he's really a full-on, capable Companion now.

On the note of Hitler, though, he really had very little to do with the episode. Once he'd been locked in a cupboard 15 minutes in, we never had so much as another whisper of him. So he's relegated to the ranks of Plot Devices (there had to be some reason the teselecta was there to notice Mels) and Excuses for Clever Titles. A fitting punishment for war crimes, perhaps...

Categories: 

A Viewer's Purgatory

Aug
28

Review of Paradise Towers (#149)

DVD Release Date:  09 Aug 11
Original Air Date:  05 - 26 Oct 1987
Doctor/Companion:  Seven, Mel
Stars:  Sylvester McCoy, Bonnie Langford
Preceding StoryTime and the Rani (Seven, Mel)
Succeeding Story:  Delta and the Bannermen (Seven, Mel)

While I wouldn't call Paradise Towers "awful," it certainly wasn't a scintillating piece of work, either. It suffers from a strong story concept poorly realized. Not all of that is due to the special effects (though they certainly contribute), but one wonders what could have been if there had been a bigger budget.

In the manner of a disclaimer, I suppose I should start by saying that Mel is among my least favorite Companions. Therefore, anything that starts with the Doctor pandering to Mel's desire to go for a swim (because he'd jettisoned the pool from the TARDIS - something she's obviously regrown since) and includes dialog with even a passing reference to one of her typically tragic outfits (as if we hadn't been trying really hard to ignore it) is unlikely to yield an unequivocal thumbs-up from me.

The pool serves as a plot device to bring our heroes to Paradise Towers (a supposedly utopian high-rise presumably located on Earth, somewhen post-21st Century), though it's a pretty thin one. I mean, when the pool appears inaccessible, Mel is ready to abandon the plan as well as the whole damn planet ("You don't happen to know another planet with a swimming pool, do you?"). What - there's only one pool left on the entire Earth? Get real...

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Nu-View #5: Color Me Surprised

Aug
24

The Mark of the Rani  (Story #140, 1985)
Viewed 09 Aug 2011

Doctor/Companion:   Six, Perpugilliam "Peri" Brown
Stars:  Colin Baker, Nicola Bryant
Preceding StoryVengeance on Varos (Six, Peri)
Succeeding Story:  The Two Doctors (Two, Six, Jaime, Peri)
Notable Aspects:

OK - I'll admit it: I was really surprised by the reactions to Six. While jE was already familiar with him (in fact, he was the reason she stopped watching, back in the day - and despite not feeling well, I'm pretty sure that's her real excuse for missing this time), neither of the other two had ever seen him before.  I carefully picked my favorite of his stories in order to cast him in the best possible light.  Who knew - it worked!

First impressions were mixed. The credits were declared more '70s than '80s (and Six's smile garnered such adjectives as "creepy" and "psychedelic"), but the music was "totally '80s!" Then came the requisite disgust with Six's coat-of-many-colors, which for this story was closely followed by "what is she wearing?!" in reference to Peri. Finally, there was the general snarking about the supposedly American Companion ("gotta work on that accent, lady"), which actually continued through the whole show ("you're so incapable!" "I don't like her at all..."). So far, I was in familiar territory.

Then things turned weird.

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