In the Manner of a Sorbet...


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

I have to admit, I like a good pirate story as much as the next Deppophile, and what genre doesn't get better when you add Doctor Who?  Well, maybe a pirate story...

I'm not saying there was anything wrong with Black Spot, but it was a rather run-of-the-mill, overall unremarkable kind of episode.  It was a classic romp - nice and fluffy - something to cleanse the palate between that meaty season-opener and the much-anticipated Gaiman-penned episode coming up next.  I've read that it was originally intended to be aired in the episode 10 slot, and I can see that working; there's clearly no major story arc here.  There are, of course, a few nods at what has come before (e.g., a flashback to the Doctor's death) and a few hints at things yet to come, like another appearance of Creepy Eyepatch Lady (CEL).


A Pregnant Silence


Review of Day of the Moon
Warning:  This review contains episode-specific spoilers and wild speculation about future episodes.  It also contains profanity.  Proceed at your own risk.

This being the first story of the series, I wasn’t expecting resolution for many of the dangling plot threads in the second half of the two-parter. However, I don’t think I expected as many new ones to be woven in, either. And frankly, I’m not convinced that the threads that seemed to get tied up really are. Oh, what a tangled web Moff weaves...

Starting things off in style with a beautifully wrought mind-fuck allows the production team to squeeze in a few more shots of the good ol’ US of A (I have to say, it’s slightly amusing in Confidential to watch the Brits wax poetic about the American landscape; I suppose it’s a grass-is-always-greener situation, since I find the backdrops here beautiful but almost blasé in their familiarity, while I’d be walking around London and surrounds like a slack-jawed yokel, myself), and puts the viewer off-kilter for a beat.

But soon we’re back to the more familiar, with the Doctor having done something incredibly clever (watch him *snap* the TARDIS open), and River having trusted him with her life yet again. A little bit of exposition later, and it’s on to a truly hide-behind-the-sofa-worthy haunted house. I have to say this is one of the creepiest (darkest, if you will - that seems to be the adjective the production team is using) episodes I’ve ever seen, from any era.


Something That Matters


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

Wow.  Where do I start?
Maybe it's best to back up and explain that in the lead-up to Series Six, especially in the last couple of weeks, I've been doing my desperate best to avoid seeing any spoilers for the series - I've even avoided some of the official BBC news items.  Hopefully this attempt at isolationism will allow me to come to the series with a suitable sense of surprise as new plot points are revealed to the Doctor and his Companions. (If you've already read all the spoilers, you'll probably be able to tell me exactly where I'm going wrong in my analysis and speculations, but please don't.  I really want to find out in my own time, by watching the episodes.)  I have to say, I found plenty of surprises, but even more tantalizing tidbits that could be either clues or red herrings (with Moffat you never know).
From the moment in the prequel when Nixon assures his caller that "there are no monsters in the Oval Office" (a beautiful political double entendre that you can apply to your administration of choice), it's clear that we're in for a doozy.  And the action really is pretty much non-stop from the rapid strides of an irate monarch right through to the moment we hear the sting into the credits.
As I understand it, one of Moffat's goals was to make the season opener feel more like the finale in scope and drama.  For my money, he's done it.  Surely there has never yet been a single episode so crammed full of quotable (and quite possibly notable, in terms of story arc) quotes.  Some are just plain hilarious (like the exchange when the Doctor's asserts that River's wearing her "'he's hot when he's clever' face"), some are poignant ("We do what the Doctor's friends always do:  what we're told."), and some set off little alarm bells ("You lot.  Thought I'd never get done saving you...").

Confession #8: I'd Love to See More Classic Baddies (and Think We Will)


Part of the bread and butter of Doctor Who is introducing new creatures to be antagonists for the Doctor.  Writers experiment with it, thrive on it, even cash in on it (~cough~TerryNation~cough~).  Despite our perceptions, though - thanks mostly to institutions such as the Daleks and the Cybermen - most of them show up no more than twice.  So it's not surprising that we end up with such one-offs as the Sycorax, clockwork robots, the Carrionites, the Vashta Nerada, and the Krafayis (some of which fully deserve to remain relegated to the annals of history).  We've also, however, had recurrences of the (rather regrettable) Slitheen, the Ood, and the Weeping Angels as well as the return of the Autons, the Sontarans, and (WTF?) the Silurians.

But what I really want to see is more links back to some the more interesting - and not yet overused - pre-RTD-era baddies.  Here I'm thinking of entities such as the Toymaker, the Black Guardian, the Valeyard, or Omega.  In fact, all of these crossed my mind at one point or another as a possibility for the culprit behind the as-yet-unexplained Silence and reason for the TARDIS's explosion in Series Fnarg.  And while Toby Jones' brilliantly creepy Dream Lord could well have been interpreted as another aspect of the Valeyard, I don't honestly think either the Valeyard or the Toymaker are good fits for the Big Bad of Series Six.  My money (and a huge pent-up fangirl squee, if this wishful thinking pans out) is on Omega.

It's recently been brought to my attention that I'm behind the curve on this idea.  So I'm certainly not an original thinker on this front, but I submit that I am at least an independent thinker (like Newton and Leibniz, or Hertzsprung and Russell).  Suffice it to say, I had the idea myself - it sprang from the murky depths of my own fandom, not from cruising others' forum posts.


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


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.


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