Reviews

The Almost Plot

Jun
04

Review of The Almost People
Warning:  This review contains episode-specific spoilers and wild speculation about future episodes.

OK, I'll be honest:  the specifics of the ending surprised me.  As for the general shape of it, though, I totally called it (see my previous speculation regarding the Creepy Eyepatch Lady). That part wasn't as heavily telegraphed as the events of either the previous episode or this one, but it's all there if you go look for it ("breathe, Pond").

What was just as obvious as in The Rebel Flesh was the "mistaken" identities. I already pointed out last time that there were almost certainly two Ganger Jennifers (poor Rory - finally grew a pair, only to discover he'd been led around by them). The further hints laid out here were again copious (e.g., the machinery won't recognize her as a valid operator), but hardly more so than the hints that Amy was saving her affection for the "wrong" Doctor. I'm not even sure how we were supposed to get fooled by that, since just about the only time we see the "distinguishing" shoes is the initial close-up on them; all we have to go on is the other characters' reactions to the supposed DoppelDoctor. The only surprise would have been if they hadn't mixed them up. After all, what's more cliché than the Beast really being a Prince (unless it's the inverse)?

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End of an Era

Jun
01
Review of Planet of the Spiders (#74)

DVD Release Date: 10 May 11
Original Air Date: 04 May - 08 Jun 1974
Doctor/Companion:   Three, Sarah Jane Smith, with Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart
Stars:  Jon Pertwee, Elisabeth Sladen, with Nicholas Courtney
Preceding StoryThe Monster of Peladon (Three, Sarah Jane)
Succeeding StoryRobot (Four, Sarah Jane, the Brigadier)

The last story I reviewed was all about firsts.  This one's rather the opposite, as Three's swan song. I'd heard lots about it for that reason, and even seen the final regeneration scene a couple of times on YouTube (it's so much better in context). I'm really pleased finally to have the opportunity to see the whole thing. I suspect that if I'd been soaking in it at the time (you know... if I'd been a Brit, and old enough to watch tellie), it would've been even more of a thrill to watch.

As it is, I can kind of watch it from two perspectives:  Historic Story (HS) and Standard Fare (SF). As HS, it's got lots of portent, what with the whole Cho-je/K'anpo/Doctor dynamic that only comes to a head in the last episode or two; it's nice seeing a little more of the Doctor's personal history. There are also little nods all over the place to the entire Pertwee era - from the Metebelius crystal coming back to UNIT from Jo (who's off galavanting in the jungle) to the redemption of Mike Yates (former Capt. with UNIT, who turned traitor in a previous story) to the fabulous Sgt. Benton almost blithely offering to risk his life in the Doctor's stead ("Wouldn't it be better for me to have a go first? I mean, I'm expendable and you're not.").

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A Beautiful, Um, Friendship?

May
27

Review of Terror of the Autons (#55)

DVD Release Date: 10 May 11
Original Air Date: 02 - 23 Jan 1971
Doctor/Companion:   Three, Jo Grant, with Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart
Stars:  Jon Pertwee, Katy Manning, with Nicholas Courtney
Preceding StoryInferno (Three, Liz Shaw, the Brigadier)
Succeeding StoryThe Mind of Evil (Three, Jo, the Brigadier)

How can you not love stories that you know in retrospect to be The Start of Something?  At the beginning of Three's second season, having been stranded on Earth sidekicking for UNIT for a year now, the Doctor needs a new "assistant" - and a new challenge.  Enter three new regulars:  Jo Grant, Capt. Mike Yates, and the Master.  I wonder if anyone at the time had any idea how big an impact their new villain would have...

This story is full of win. Not only do we get the aforementioned introductions (including the Master's hypnotic control of others, and his Tissue Compression Eliminator), but we get some key "rare appearances," too. For example, we have only seen another Time Lord or another TARDIS a couple of times before (in The Time Meddler and The War Games), and the Autons last appeared in Three's first adventure (Spearhead from Space). There's also lots more of the same things we've already come to love (e.g., the Brigadier and the Doctor snarking at each other with some glee).

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It's Just Gunge

May
25

Review of The Rebel Flesh
Warning:  This review contains episode-specific spoilers and wild speculation about future episodes.

Derivative much?  It's been a long time since I saw a story so predictable; I knew the major plot points by the time last week's trailer was over.  Great:  some sort of it-could-be-human-except-it's-not-alive technology becomes self-aware and gets in a fight for its life with "real" humans.  ~yawn~

Not only does this echo countless science fiction/horror classics from Frankenstein to Blade Runner to Who's own Robots of Death (fear of the nearly-us-but-clearly-Other is deep-seated), the story is a ripoff of other, newer Who stories.  There are obvious parallels with stories as recent as The Waters of Mars and The Hungry Earth/Cold Blood, not to mention smatterings of The Doctor's Daughter, The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit and just about every Auton or base-under-siege story ever made. And did anyone not see the "cliffhanger" coming from the instant the Doctor first touched the Flesh?  If that had been any more heavily telegraphed, viewers would've had to set up little cable offices in their living rooms (or wherever they watch their Who) to take the messages down.

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Sexy Is As Sexy Does

May
18

Review of The Doctor's Wife
Warning:  This review contains episode-specific spoilers and wild speculation about future episodes.

Oh, me of little faith.

Even knowing Neil Gaiman's work both by reputation and by example (e.g., the rather dark novel American Gods), I still doubted the likely quality of the episode he had written once I learned some of the details.   Specifically, when the news of Episode 4's title came out, I groaned inwardly.  OK, sure, I was 99.9999% certain it was a red herring - nothing "new" and "notable" would be learned about the Doctor's personal history, and there was going to be some tricky way in which there was and yet wasn't an actual wife (spot on there) - but just the suggestion was enough to turn my stomach, especially since I knew there were going to be fans out there somewhere saying, "I knew it! Here's where we learn about River!"

And then there was the Ood.  Now don't get me wrong - the Ood are an interesting enough race, and they certainly have their place (I happen to believe that place is firmly in the RTD era...).  Regardless, the sight of an Ood at the end of last week's trailer was enough to reduce my appetite for this episode by about an order of magnitude.  Thank goodness all of that was totally irrelevant.

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