It's All About Perspective

Feb
23

Review of The Mutants (#63)

DVD Release Date: 08 Feb 11
Original Air Date: 08 Apr - 13 May 1972
Doctor/Companion:   Three, Jo Grant
Stars:  Jon Pertwee, Katy Manning
Preceding StoryThe Sea Devils (Three, Jo)
Succeeding StoryThe Time Monster (Three, Jo)

When the Doctor is sent on yet another mission by the Time Lords, he and Jo find themselves on a skybase orbiting the planet Solos.  There, officials of imperial Earth are preparing to grant the natives independence after 500 years, but the Marshal has other ideas.  He wants to make Solos' atmosphere breathable by humans (which it currently isn't), rather than to Solonians (which it currently is).  Due to the experiments he has commissioned, some Solonians are mutating into strange, bug-like creatures - derogatorily nicknamed "Mutts" - which the Marshal believes should be purged from the planet.

I must admit that, from my 21st century American perspective, I saw this story as primarily a commentary on our stewardship of the environment, and to a lesser degree about the treatment of indigenous peoples by colonizing cultures.  However, at the time, especially to a British audience not yet completely out of imperial politics, it would have smacked rather heavily of the British withdrawal from India in 1947, not to mention South Africa or the then-current conflict in Rhodesia (later Zimbabwe).  It's interesting to me that this story can play out on so many levels - standard Who story, allegory of imperialism, and allegory of environmental issues - over so many years.  Perhaps that's why I was so surprised at the way a different theme came across.

Categories: 

Schedule Adjustment

Feb
18

In the interest of maintaining the quality of my posts (and my sanity), I have decided to change my posting schedule, starting next week (Wednesday, 23 Feb 11).  Rather than trying to post a Confession every week and squeeze in Reviews and Nu-Views as they arise, I will only post something from one of those three classes every week, depending on DVD release schedules and WhoFest session dates.

Partly, this allows me to "ramp up" to my intended eventual tripartite blog structure.  A revised, custom site is under construction (don't ask about a release date for that; I've no idea at this stage) in which each type of post (Confessions, Reviews, and Nu-Views) will have its own blog-stream.  You'll be able to follow the RSS feed for any one of them, or all of them.  If I gain a real Readership, I might even consider adding a forum.  It'll be cool; just wait and see.

Another thing I hope to improve with the upcoming site is giving readers the ability to post comments on Reviews and Nu-Views as well.  Not that there are many comments yet...  (C'mon, people!  I can see you in my stats!  I know someone's at least loading my pages!)  I recognize that episode reviews are probably the most likely to inspire chatter, so that's one of the main reasons I wanted to blog-etize all three sections.  In the meantime, please feel free to comment about any section of the site on the Confessions page.

Now just because I've declared that I will only post in one category a week, it doesn't mean I won't occasionally post to more, if I get inspired.  Sometimes I'll want to write a lot - I do get slightly obsessive about things like blogging.  And, of course, there's Series Six coming up.  So pull up a chair and settle in.  There's plenty to come.

Confession #5: I Have My Own Theories About River Song

Feb
16

This is more an "admission" than a confession, but hey - it's my blog.
 

Especially with Series Six coming up in a matter of weeks, and a promise that "everything changes," ideas about who River Song "really is" are as abundant as fans who watch Nu-Who (if not more so).  I figured now was as good a time as any to put forth my own.

Perhaps I should start with a brief list of the most common hypotheses that I don't buy.  For example:

  • She's the Doctor's wife.  Yeah, right.  They may act "like an old married couple" and there have been hints dropped left and right that they are, but I just can't credit it.  Undoubtedly, there's a romantic (or even just sexual) component to the relationship, but if River is the Doctor's wife, then that is only a fraction of the whole story.  Otherwise, the rest makes no sense.
  • She's a future incarnation of the Doctor.  This idea clearly comes out of certain fans' long-standing desire to see a female Doctor, but River Song is no Valeyard.  While she clearly knows how to handle herself in the TARDIS and such, she's much too comfortable with violence in general, and guns in particular, for me ever to believe she's the Doctor.
  • She's another Time Lord.  I'm more willing to believe this one than some of the others, but it still doesn't ring true to me.  If she's traipsing around the 51st century, why is the Doctor convinced all through the rest of Nu-Who that he (or, for a time, the Master) is the last of the Time Lords?  Supposedly he can sense other Time Lords, regardless of where (or, presumably, when) they are.  None of that fits with what we know of River.
  • She's the Doctor's mother/daughter.  Are these people on drugs?  There is nothing either maternal or filial in River's attitude toward the Doctor.  If there were, then other comments would be distinctly incestuous in nature, which is far too creepy for someone like Moffat to include in a show that is - at least in Britain - specifically aimed at a family audience.  I'd sooner believe the Woman in White from The End of Time had either familial relationship with the Doctor (most certainly not my interpretation) than that River does.
Categories: 

The Ugly Docling

Feb
16

Review of Doctor Who: The Movie (Special Edition)

DVD Release Date: 08 Feb 11
Original Air Date: 14 May 96 (US)
Doctor/Companion:   Eight, Dr. Grace Holloway
Stars:  Paul McGann, Daphne Ashbrook
Preceding StorySurvival (Seven, Ace) - 1989
Succeeding StoryRose (Nine, Rose Tyler) - 2005
Notable Aspects:

  • Only televised story to include the Eighth Doctor
  • Doctor's first on-screen kiss
  • Bridge between Classic and Nu-Who
  • DVD:  First North American video release

There are those who think The Movie is one of the worst crimes ever committed against the Whoniverse.  I am not among them.  Despite some notably bad features, I actually really enjoy it.  Not the least of my reasons is that it's the one and only on-screen appearance of Paul McGann as the Doctor.

The made-for-tv Movie came about (in its final form) as a "back-door pilot" for a potential series re-launch.  It was to be set in the US and aimed at the US market, so the tone was somewhat "Americanized."  Among other things, it added a splash of romance (much to the horror of Old Skool Whovians), a "car" chase, and an actual American Companion (as opposed to Peri - played by Nicola Bryant, a Brit).  Not all of it worked, but there's a reason McGann continues to this day to get work as Eight in audio-dramas and other projects:  he makes a brilliant Doctor.

After learning more about the tortuous path this story took getting to the screen (see the extras, below), it's easier to understand - and even forgive - some of its flaws.  To my mind, the most notable one is the casting of Eric Roberts (that's Julia's brother, for Six Degrees of Separation buffs) as the Master.  The Powers That Be wanted an American actor as the villain of the piece, so it came down to a matter of who was acceptable to the right corporate suits (and who would take the money offered), rather than who was right for the part.  Roberts' resultant Master is campy, never more so than when he dons that quasi-Gallifreyan get-up.  The role has always been camp (just listen to Roger Delgado's muahaha! some time if you don't believe me), but this takes the biscuit.  And somehow, it's not Master-y to me at all.  Where's the "devious and overcomplicated" plot, the exceedingly clever adversary?  Mostly, he just poses and attempts (poorly) to intimidate.  At least there was some mind control and ruthless disregard for life to make him seem more Master-ful.

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Post-poned

Feb
09

Due to the unfortunate encroachment of Real Life, Confession #5 will need to be postponed until next week.  With yesterday's release of The Movie and The Mutants, there should be some new reviews in the next week or two, as well.

My apologies if I've disappointed anyone (with my vast, single digit readership, I'm sure there's somebody...).  I'll get back on track as soon as possible, once these pesky RL issues are resolved.

 

 

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