Confession #120: I Love a Retrospective


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!


Confession #61: I Want a 50th Boxed Set


Over the weekend, reports surfaced that The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot; the unofficial-but-officially-sanctioned half-hour special written and directed by Fifth Doctor Peter Davison and co-starring Colin Baker (Six), Sylvester McCoy (Seven), and (briefly) Paul McGann (Eight); would at some point be released on DVD. The source of this information is apparently C. Baker himself, sharing the news at a Doctor Who Appreciation Society event. Details are ridiculously sketchy, pretty much only including the fact that it's slated to happen and that it will be part of a "special set" focused on Matt Smith.

Folks are already speculating wildly about what will be on this rumored set, though most (like me) seem to have settled on the idea that it will be something 50th anniversary-related. My favorite overly enthusiastic and admittedly too optimistic list of items that might be included encompassed everything from the Proms to Hurt interviews to a specially created farewell to Eleven.

Admittedly, if it does turn out to be an anniversary set, there is a lot of material from which to choose. A lot of material was only available in one part of the world or another (e.g., the aforementioned Proms, or the Doctors Revisited series which didn't make it to the UK until mere weeks before the anniversary). But how likely do we really think it is that BBC Worldwide would include videos of panel interviews, for instance? Realistically, there's a pretty short list of what they're likely to use.


That Turkey Never Did Quite Get Cooked


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

I suppose my expectations finally sank to the cellar when the first "nude Doctor" promo pics hit the Web. You'd think there would be no room left for crushed hopes after that, but apparently you'd be mistaken. It seems I had an iota of optimism left that Moffat could tie shit together coherently—I really ought to know better.

Usually I enjoy Moffat's episodes in the moment; it's not till later when I have time to think about the plot that I realize how riddled it is with holes and other offenses. Most times he manages to catch me up in the emotion of each scene (which is, after all, his strong suit) and I can take an episode as it was intended on that first viewing.

Not this time.

Maybe it had something to do with all of the interruptions (mine were familial rather than commercial, but I'm sure the effect was much the same for those who watched on BBCA). Or maybe it was the painful running "gag" about nudity (which just... No.). At any rate, from the very first chirping tones of the message—the Question—and the Mother Superious's droning voiceover, I was a detached observer, uninvested (at least in a good way) in the proceedings. I was pissed at Clara for not listening when the Doctor said he was in danger, I was pissed at the Doctor for blatantly ignoring human social mores (with which he is damn well familiar), and I was pissed with Moffat for thinking that "for kids" and "juvenile" were interchangeable.


First Fifty's Final Face


Review of The Doctors Revisited - Eleventh Doctor

As we wind down the year, anticipating the upcoming regeneration, we Revisit Matt Smith's Eleventh Doctor. Since his reign is only current until Christmas, it's not as premature to do a retrospective on his era as it felt when this series of specials was announced.

I did, however, find it odd that the production team chose to throw out spoilers for the entire arc of Series Six left and right—and for the mid-series finale of S7, too—yet barely breathed a word about anything to do with the second half of S7 except Clara's personality and relationship with the Doctor.

I realize they had to be careful, if all of these specials were filmed at the same time; not even The Snowmen would've aired yet when everyone was interviewed. (And while I'm on the topic, here's the list: lead actors Matt Smith, Karen Gillan, Arthur Darvill, and Jenna Coleman; supporting actors Mark Sheppard, Frances Barber, Hugh Bonneville, and Mike McShane; writer Tom McRae; producer Marcus Wilson; and show-runner Steven Moffat.) So long after the fact, though (remember that The Name of the Doctor aired way back in May), it provides a certain surreality to the episode, like time traveling back a year, when we had no idea what was coming with Clara's Series Seven storyline.

The rest of the special feels, for a fan like me, like redundant rehashing of obvious traits of the Eleventh Doctor, his Companions, and their stories. More so than the rest of the installments, even. Much like last month, it may be down to how recent all of this is, so I've tried to take it in context.


Retcon of the Doctor


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

I said recently that I could forgive Moffat almost anything about this anniversary special; I knew not everything on my personal wishlist would make the cut. And as it turned out, plenty I'd have liked to see happen didn't. Overall, though, there wasn't much to forgive.

From the get-go, there were plenty of nods to the past. Starting with the original opening credits—down to the policeman strolling by Totter's Lane—certainly set the right tone. I could go on for pages listing all those little moments, but I'm sure someone else will write up a definitive list you can find, if that's your cup of tea. I'll just say that I personally loved the reference to the UNIT dating controversy and one of the Brigadier's reactions to the events of The Three Doctors ("Codename: Cromer"—and I really do recommend watching that tenth anniversary special if you've not seen it.)

So much happened in these seventy-five minutes that it could be a little difficult to wrap one's brain around it all on a single viewing; I agree with others who have commented that it's all clearer the second time around. The things I liked the first time, I still liked, and the things I didn't... well, they didn't irritate me quite so much when I knew they were coming.

The entire Zygon gambit felt secondary—and honestly, I quite think it was there simply as a way for the meeting of these three Doctors not to be boring as all get-out—but made surprising sense by the end. It was at least self-consistent, which is more than I can say for some episodes. The entire idea of the Zygons is great, too; they're a well-loved adversary that was long overdue a return. As executed, they were proper scary, even if the change from human back to Zygon form was too CGI to be believable. At least it was gross.



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