Malus Aforethought


Review of The Awakening (#132)

DVD Release Date:  12 Jul 11
Original Air Date:  19 - 20 Jan 1984
Doctor/Companion:  Five, Tegan Jovanka, Vislor Turlough
Stars:  Peter Davison, Janet Fielding, Mark Strickson
Preceding StoryWarriors of the Deep (Five, Tegan, Turlough)
Succeeding Story:  Frontios (Five, Tegan, Turlough)

For various reasons explained in the extras, it was deemed that the story that eventually became The Awakening needed to be reduced to two episodes. I suppose that's one reason that it didn't grab me as a particularly inspiring installment. It starts out feeling very Doctor-y, with something going wrong with the TARDIS yet landing in the right time and place. Some villagers are "in on" the odd happenings and others aren't, and we're left wondering why.

However, after that, it gets a tad jumbled. It's not that it's a bad story, by any means. I never really understood the motivation of the Malus, though. It was all just a bit... foggy. What finally defeated it in the end was unclear, too, but aside from the Malus itself looking a bit rubbish once it began to animate (sorry - I know the production team did a fabulous job given the times and the budget, but...), I actually did enjoy several bits, even if they were oh-so-stereotypical.


The 30 Day Doctor Who Challenge


Now that I've completed the challenge, I thought I'd post it in its entirety here on the front page for folks to view. Day 1 is presented before the break to whet your appetite; click on the page title or the "continued..." link to see my choices and comments for all 30 days.

I've decided to play along with The 30 Day Doctor Who Challenge, as set up by one of the Time Vault podcasters on his personal blog.  Starting 21 Jun 2011, I will answer one question a day in the right sidebar and update the information on this page, too.  Post your own answers, if you like!

Day 1: Favourite / Least Favourite Doctor

The favorite is a tough call, but I'm going to have to go with "my" Doctor: Ten

The least favorite is easier, though I dislike him less than I once did: Six

To elaborate, I think anyone who does this challenge is likely to pick "their" Doctor for the favorite slot. The Doctor who really reels you in, the one who was there at your beginning, the one who made you love this crazy show - that's "your" Doctor, and he will forever be foremost in your heart. Others may tug your heart in their own way, but "your" Doctor will never be superceded.

Conversely, one's least favorite might change as you see more of various Doctors. For me, I've never been over-the-moon about Six. However, as mentioned above (see the linked Confession #7 for more details), I no longer hate him. I've come to appreciate him for what he does bring to the table. So there's no one I truly dislike as the Doctor; Six just happens to be at the bottom of my list.

The Should've Been Better Corral


Review of The Gunfighters (#25)

DVD Release Date:  12 Jul 11
Original Air Date:  30 Apr - 21 May 1966
Doctor/Companion:  One, Steven Taylor, Dodo Chaplet
Stars:  William Hartnell, Peter Purves, Jackie Lane
Preceding StoryThe Celestial Toymaker (One, Steven, Dodo)
Succeeding StoryThe Savages (One, Steven, Dodo)

During Doctor Who's third series - the last for William Hartnell (One) - there came one of the last pseudo-historicals for a long while. Why was it among the last? Because audiences stayed away in droves. Although The Gunfighters is perhaps better than the viewing numbers at the time indicated, I can't altogether blame the public for shying away, either. An otherwise decent storyline is utterly ruined by the ubiquitous presence of a horrific saloon-style song created just for this episode: "The Ballad of the Last Chance Saloon."

A line or two (or eight) of this horrific tinkly little tune is sung over every single scene change in the entire story. The first one or two, OK, I can tolerate that - setting the tone, giving some "local color" by having the bar floozy sing her song. But every time? By the end of the first episode, I had such an ear worm I was longing for the strains of "Copacabana," "Hotel California," or even "The Brady Bunch" to get the damn thing out of my head! I was somewhat gratified to learn, when watching the extras, that I was not alone. The production staff and cast were also put off by the song, and still embarrassed by it years later (as well they should be).


A Brief Time Out for Torchwood


OK, I never planned to write reviews for Torchwood - especially not an American version - but I just have to pause briefly in my normal Who stream to comment on the second episode of Miracle Day, titled "Rendition."

This is the episode in which the "team" is forcibly flown back to the US, hijinks ensue, etc. Now I don't know how the British public will react, but I can't be the only American viewer who had a hard time taking Rex's boss (played by Wayne Knight) seriously as an antagonist! For any Brits who may not be familiar with this actor, he's well known for his comedic roles (if you've ever watched an episode of Seinfeld, you've seen the guy).

It's not that he did a poor job - he certainly played the role to perfection - it's just that my own prior experiences with the actor combined with my unfortunate mental conditioning from post-Hiatus Who and The Sarah Jane Adventures kept me half-expecting the poor sap to start unzipping his forehead! That's not the vibe Torchwood is trying to put out...

So seriously. Comment for me so I know I'm not alone. Anyone else have the niggling feeling the guy was just wearing a flesh suit?


Confession #14: I Rather Like Torchwood


The recent relaunch of Doctor Who spinoff cum anagram Torchwood - this time in its American incarnation - has gotten me thinking again about the series as a whole. The fact that the 30 Day Doctor Who Challenge has a "favorite spinoff" entry coming up has exacerbated the situation, as Torchwood is one of the obvious possibilities. I hear a lot of bad-mouthing of Captain Jack's little gang and their adventures (even do a little myself, on occasion), but how bad is it, really?

I will admit that I watched the first two series mostly for the completeness of it - there was Who crossover, and I wanted the whole story. There were an awful lot of those stories that I'd rather not see again. I count Cyberwoman, Countrycide (worst. episode. ever.), and From Out of the Rain among those.

On the other hand, there were a few that I found quite engaging:  series opener Everything Changes, They Keep Killing Suzie (loved the premise), Random Shoes (similarly enjoyed this premise), Captain Jack Harkness (it was nice to get a little more background on Our Hero), Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang (OK, yeah, I just really like James Marsters), and the rather disturbing Meat (not least because heroine Gwen's hubby Rhys finally gets let in on the big secret of Torchwood's existence).



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