Wednesday, December 30, 2015

NuWho Reviews: Blink, Utopia, The Sound of Drums, Last of the Time Lords

Blink

Davies, we don't need anymore nightmare fuel. Honestly. You've given us enough. Can't we see something, I don't know, pleasant? Maybe another wacky chase with the village idiot Daleks? No?

Fine.

A young woman named Sally Sparrow is taking pictures of an abandoned house, because she is that person that thinks nostalgia is "deep". But that doesn't matter, because the creepiest of statues are all there! However, she also finds a weird message from the Doctor beneath the wallpaper warning her about "Weeping Angels", which couldn't possibly be those creepy angel statues, AMIRITE? Sally returns the next day with her friend Kathy...who disappears to 1920. Luckily, she finds a nice young man who doesn't mind a pretty young woman randomly appearing to him. Kathy's grandson arrives just at that time to deliver a letter, and Sally grabs a key hanging on one of the statues before following the next clue.

Worst game of Hide and Seek ever.


Sally goes to see Kathy's brother, Larry, who has found a strange Easter Egg in a number of random DVDs. The Easter Egg, needless to say, is a message from the Doctor, which has become a meme in-universe, and is now a meme on the Internet.

I love this fandom.


Also, we get the only explanation for Doctor Who that we have been able to understand: time is a ball of wibbly wobbly, timey wimey stuff. SCIENCE!

Sally meets up with a cute policeman, who has a fake police box impounded at the station. Sally leaves, then goes back to give him the key and finds he has disappeared.

Luckily, he too has impeccable timing, and calls her.

He's old and dying of cancer. WORST FIRST DATE EVER.

Billy was transported to 1969, where the Doctor and Martha were hanging about trying to find a way to get back to the TARDIS in the future. They send Billy with a message: Sally needs to watch the DVDs. While she watches and argues with the Doctor via TV, Larry takes down a transcript, which the Doctor will use to make the DVDs.

The Weeping Angels are stone as long as someone looks at them.

If you turn away or blink the Angels will steal your potential life force and send you into another time. Which isn't...bad...unless, say you appear right in the middle of a witch burning.

Some Weeping Angels appear at this point, and chase them into the basement, where they run into the TARDIS, and use a DVD as a control disk to send the TARDIS to 1969. When it dematerializes, the Angels are left in an endless loop of staring at each other forever.

One year later, it's a good thing Sally keep everything documented, because she runs into a confused Martha and Doctor on their way for a random adventure that sounds like it may have made a good episode. She hands them her folder of Everything, and the loop of confusion is complete. It had some good moments and of course introduced the Weeping Angels, but overall it was rather confusing more than anything.

Also, Sally Sparrow never escaped.

She ran into this kid that survived the Titanic. His girlfriend thought he was dead, or something.


So to sum up the episode



Utopia

The TARDIS briefly recharges in Cardiff. You know, the rift thing? Anyways, as they take off, the Doctor spots JACK HARKNESS running toward the box. The TARDIS flies to the literal end of the universe to shake him off, and it doesn't work, because this is Jack we're talking about. They land, Jack is dead, but luckily he comes back to life. Again.



Yeah, Rose didn't just bring him back to life. She accidentallied his mortality. He tried to find the Doctor using a vortex manipulator, and wound up in the 19th century, where he sat himself down in Cardiff and waited for the Doctor to come back.

Meanwhile, the end of the universe is even more ridiculous than the one we see in House on the Borderlands. Here, we have cannibals! They run to a nearby silo with a human, where the last of the human race awaits a ship to "Utopia".

Wait a minute you guys first it was Utopia then it was the Promised Land SHE JUST RECYCLED HER PLAN

 Sorry. I'm fine. Really, truly fine. Totally sane. Totally

 In the silo, a Professor Yana YANAGEDDITYANA and his assistant Chantho building a rocket. While the Doctor helps him repair the ship's engine, Yana starts hearing the Doctor Who theme beating out time in his head. Could he be a Whovian...?

"What's that noise, Doctor?"
"A thousand fan theories coming to life."


After the launch sequence begins, Martha goes to check on Professor Yana (who has to stay behind to trigger the launch) and notices he has a fob watch. She points it out to him, then runs to tell the Doctor. When he finds out, the look of PURE UNMITIGATED PANIC tells us EXACTLY what's about to happen, but it's too late. "Yana" lets in the cannibals, electrocutes Chantho, and acts like a generally creepy oldster. Luckily Chantho manages to shoot him, but that's okay, because he can regenerated into the spaztastic John Simm!

LOLHAI


That's right, kids, the Master is back, he steals the TARDIS (but not before the Doctor fixes the TARDIS to only go back and forth between the two times), and goes on to drink even more caffeine. This was weird! The cannibals made little sense! But it has the Master, so we're good.


The Sound of Drums

Jack's vortex manipulator is a darn useful thing. They manage to return to present time, where they discover that SURPRISE THE MASTER IS TOTALLY HAROLD SAXON. A phone network called Archangel influences people to vote for him. The world's governments can neither confirm nor deny that they actually have these already.

Also, the Master has a wife. The Doctor is deeply surprised about this.

After some hammy, hammy acting in which the Master kills off Downing Street, we get some Master backstory. The Time Lords resurrected him to fight in the Time War, because the Time Lords are nothing if not impractical. Instead, he fled to the ends of the Earth, fobbed himself, Fanny's your uncle, Bob's your aunt, here we are!



The Doctor creates perception filters to keep the three of them unnoticed. Meanwhile, the Master plans to reveal Earth's "first" contact with an alien species, the Toclafane, aboard a flying aircraft carrier with President Bush Winters. Once on board, the Toclafane are revealed to be flying psychopaths, and they disintegrate President Bush Winters. The political commentary thus given, we can get back to the plot, which is that the Master has used the TARDIS to create a Paradox Machine, which causes the Earth to become a dystopian YA novel. Also, he suspends the Doctor's ability to regenerate, and apparently turns him into Yoda.

"Just one Yoda quote? One?"
"NO"


While the Doctor is old and tiny, the Master is casually racist toward Martha's family, takes Jack's shirt off without even a motive of fanservice, and listens to silly pop songs. Martha gets a plan from the Doctor, then teleports to Earth, presumably to participate in the Hunger Games...


Last of the Time Lords

So, dystopian YA novel Earth sucks. The Toclafane like murder-killing people, the Doctor is tiny, and Martha's family is in a very uncomfortable slavery analogue. Martha has been traveling Earth, contacting people regarding a Super Magic Wizard Gun which can totally kill the Master, you guys, because she is the Chosen One. Her hair also looks perfect despite a year of traveling through a dystopia, so you know this is a YA novel.

Yes, she did use super glue on her hair to keep it in place. THIS IS THE DYSTOPIAN FUTURE, DANGIT.


We also find out about the Toclafane and the reason for the Paradox Machine: the last humans went crazy when they realized OH YEAH UTOPIA DOESN'T EXIST, HURRDURR, and the machine allows them to kill their ancestors without running into that silly grandfather paradox that time travelers always worry about. Because that will totally make things better...?

Anyways, Martha is captured and taken to the Valiant, where the Master has her KNEEEEEEEL. But there's a catch: the gun wasn't even magic to begin with! The Doctor has been making a psychic connection to the Archangel Network, and the collective thoughts of humanity about the Doctor somehow makes him regenerate into a Vorlon. Remember back in my Third Doctor review when the Master's greatest fear was the Doctor towering over him?



YEAH THAT TOTALLY HAPPENS. I have no idea if this was done on purpose or if it was a lovely coincidence, but it's awesome. And very sparkly.



More proof we're in a YA novel.

The Paradox Machine is destroyed, the last year is erased and no one but the people aboard the Valiant remember it. The Master's wife shoots him because apparently he got tired of hitting Jack and started hitting her, and The Doctor cries. Also we get a nice Firefly meme out of it:


Jack returns to Torchwood, Martha says she's leaving because the Doctor is oblivious to her crush on him, some random person picks up the Master's ring, because we gotta have some way to bring the guy back, and the Titanic crashes into the TARDIS

 lolwut

 Let's see what kind of hilarity is going to ensue this time!

Saturday, December 26, 2015

NuWho Reviews: 42, Human Nature, and The Family of Blood

42

NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE


Human Nature

NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE


The Family of Blood

NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE

...

Just kidding! Here are the real reviews. But seriously, plenty of horror to go around.


42

The TARDIS picks up a distress signal, so the Doctor and Martha head out to investigate. The S.S. Pentallian is flying ever closer to the nearest star, the safety controls kick in on the ship and separate everyone from the TARDIS, and also they only have the length of the serial to save themselves. (Literally-each serial minus commercials is 42 minutes. Clever boy...)

To bypass the failsafes, Martha and crew member Riley must get through thirty doors locked with passwords AND trivia questions.

NO I AM BEING SERIOUS, THEY USE TRIVIA QUESTIONS. Thank God Martha has a cell phone that can call anywhere, anytime. Unfortunately, her mom keeps wanting to tell her about how dangerous the Doctor is instead of talk about the Beatles.

To cap it all off, Captain McDonnell's husband Korwin has been infected with...something. Something that's making his body temperature rise to ridiculous, mind-melting levels. He escapes from his hospital bed and starts murder-killing people, then goes on to infect Ashton, another crew member. Martha and Riley must hide in an escape pod to get away from him. And are promptly launched into space.

"But my mother WON'T STOP CALLING ME!"


The Doctor goes out and fetches them, but looks into the sun, and TERRIBLE THINGS HAPPEN.

Turns out, the star is alive, and the fuel in the ship is its heart, which is kind of horrifying to begin with? Martha tries to put him in a stasis chamber, but Korwin isn't having any of this nonsense, so the Doctor tells Martha to go let the fuel out. All while sobbing in terror and shouting "BURN WITH ME".

NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE


So, they're going to fix things, Korwin should be happy, right?

NOPE, IT'S STILL MURDERING TIME. At that point, the star (which is presumably sentient enough to know how to work airlocks) is actively sabotaging its own goal, and ceases to be a tragic monster and just be an idiot. Luckily, McDonnell shoots herself and Korwin out an airlock, the fuel is vented, and everyone goes home happy.

Except for Martha's mom, who is apparently embedded in some deep conspiracy. Now why would that wacky Harold Saxon be so concerned about the Doctor, anyways...?


Human Nature

We start in media res, with the Doctor and Martha fleeing someone who shoots at them. The Doctor calls them "The Family of Blood", neatly telling us the name of the next episode and the villains for the two parter as well. They want to use the Doctor's life force to give themselves immortality. The Doctor decides the best way to deal with them is to lie low until they die. And by "lie low" he means "use a chameleon arch to transform himself into a human and encase his Time Lord memories into a fob watch". A little more complicated than what he eventually does.

When next we see them, it is 1913, the Doctor is a geeky school teacher, and Martha is his maid. Things are going well for John Smith. He apparently likes being a teacher, and does a better job than finding different ways to enunciate "physics", and also he has an equally geeky nurse to share his dreams with.

Dreams? Yes, he has a notebook full of them, and they're mostly his previous incarnations, and lots of Rose pictures.

And handwriting that is somehow worse than mine.


Martha isn't having such a good time. The Doctor gave her specific instructions for her, such as "don't let him eat pears", but she has no idea how to stop him falling in love with someone knowing he's going to change back at some point. Also, racism and sexism are things.

Meanwhile, a kid named Timothy, who isn't doing a good job at learning how to fire guns because he's too busy having visions of World War I, finds the fob watch, and his Doctor Senses start tingling. He takes it, but when he winds up opening the watch, the Family of Blood notice and...

On the up side, he will probably never have to worry about the Weeping Angels.


Yeah, the Family of Blood starts possessing people, and making them extra creepy.

When Martha is questioned by one of them, she realizes what's happened and tries to warn the Doctor. Twice.

Then the Family of Blood crash a party and decide to give a very confused John Smith a Sadistic Choice, because they also love TV Tropes.


The Family of Blood

When last we left our heroes, the Doctor was John Smith, the Family of Blood were party-ruiners, and Timothy is the littlest psychic.

He opens the fob watch briefly, which distracts the Family, and fit hits the shan.

The school fights an army of scarecrows, and since this isn't the Harry Potter universe, this is less "oh, those wacky wizarding school hijinks" and more "WHY DON'T THEY CALL PEOPLE OTHER THAN SMALL CHILDREN".

"Good thing the kids don't have magic powers. Remember that time at Hogwarts...?"

After the first attack, Joan is casually racist toward Martha, and the Doctor starts showing his usual discomfort with fighting (and possibly also wondering why there aren't adults doing this instead). He decides the only way to get rid of the Family is to open the fob watch. He and Joan share a vision of the future in which they raise casually racist children in an idyllic British setting.

Next, we see him stumbling onto the Family's ship, offering the watch to them and running into things a lot. The Family take the offer

AND LOL HE ALREADY OPENED IT LOL.

TROLLOLOL


The Doctor then comes up with some, er, creative punishments for the family, although I like Sister of Mine's least, because when I was a kid I was terrified of mirrors thanks to the Bloody Mary story and now I am extremely uncomfortable with them again. THANKS DAVIES.

The Doctor and Joan have a sad, and a year later Timothy, thanks to his super magic wizard visions, manages to pull his previous bully/new war buddy out of the way of a bomb. He meets up with the Doctor and Martha in present day at a memorial ceremony.

So...basically...

If the Doctor had actually done something about the Family, we wouldn't have been in this mess in the first place.

DOCTOR YOU KILLED SOMEONE WITH A FRUIT I THINK YOU CAN TAKE ON COSMIC BODY SNATCHING HORRORS.

Also I'm like 99.9% certain the Doctor totally stole the scarecrow idea from "Howl's Moving Castle". Just saying.

Monday, December 21, 2015

The Farce Awakens: Thoughts as They Came To Me (Warning: Spoilers, nonsense)

Sometimes, my mind does weird things when watching a movie.


"I AM LITERALLY SEEING MORE OF YOU THAN I HAVE SEEN OF ANY OTHER WOMAN. I MUST FALL IN LOVE WITH YOU."

"Tentacles. Why did it have to be tentacles?"

GODWIN EVERYTHING! GODWIN EVERYONE!

Why is the Dark Side so arbitrary? Because J.J. Abrams, that's why.

"You want to see my face? Behold, the face of--why are you laughing at me? I AM NOT A BABY FACE STOP LAUGHING AT ME."

"I SAID I'M NOT A BABY FACE."

Every extra volunteered to be the guy who succumbs to the Jedi Mind Trick.

Because temper tantrums are the mark of every proper Sith Lord.

"BEN, GO TO YOUR ROOM AND THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU'VE DONE."

AND THEN DISNEY GORGED ITSELF UPON THE TEARS OF THE FANS.

Okay, he's on the ground in a fit of teenage angst! You can stab him!
...okay, stab him.
He's getting up, stab him.
WHY IS THE LIGHT SIDE SO LAME.

"I have been standing here for five minutes, holding out this laser sword. Would you just take it already?"
"I'M TRYING TO LET THE AUDIENCE GET A GOOD LOOK AT MY BEARD. GOD."

Well. There was a surprisingly small amount of lens flare in this movie, respect for the original material, and only a small amount of Annoying Sidekick Antics. Perhaps this is...A New Hope.


Top Five Christmas Stories

Everyone likes lists, right? Let's do a list. Here are five stories you can read leading up to Christmas, and let's start with a Solstice favorite...


5. The Festival

Okay, so technically this isn't a Christmas story. But it's like Christmas. For eldritch horrors. Follow yet another hapless Lovecraft protagonist as he returns to his ancestral home for holiday festivities. And who can't relate to fungous worm relatives, amorphous flute players that think they're the best at caroling, and the traditional "ride of the unnamed winged beasts"?

And then someone mentions politics and the mask of politeness comes off...




4. The Nutcracker

Speaking of bizarre experiences, let's talk about this story. You see, Catholics have the type of godfathers that run the Mafia. Orthodox have kooky eye patch-wearing godfathers that give you magic toys that make you have psychedelic dreams. I'm not saying that makes us cooler, it just makes us stranger.

What can we say? Our favorite Christmas story involves Santa slapping someone. You come to expect strangeness.

I can't remember which book version I read over and over as a kid, but it doesn't matter, because either way, it's basically a kid having a magic-induced dream where toys are fighting mice with Forbidden Ballet Techniques, the villain is defeated by a shoe, and then they throw the most ridiculously elaborate party ever. Best Christmas ever? BEST CHRISTMAS EVER.


3. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

As we were saying earlier, hijinks can ensue at Christmastide. Such as the Jolly Green Giant showing up and challenging you to an old school Celtic beheading game! His talking severed head just adds to the festivities!


Endless fun!


But seriously, most of the book is Christmas parties. Sir Gawain's entire journey amounts to "he dressed up cool and then there were monsters OH LOOK A CASTLE", and then suddenly we're partying with Sir Bertilak and Sir Bertilak's Hot Wife. And after the beheading challenge is done? MORE PARTYING.

Who said the Middle Ages were terrible? They sound amazing.
Especially when they have this kind of party.




2. A Christmas Carol

Once was a time when telling spooky stories was just a thing at Christmas. Why? I have no idea. Possibly the consumption of alcohol was involved.

Either way, Dickens tells a spooky Christmas story that also causes the future of Christmas to change. Everyone knows about cranky old Scrooge and his hatred of basically everything.

This year, Grumpy Cat will play the part of Scrooge.

But the fact is, the story never gets old, because it's so much fun! (And quite frankly a little horrifying!) I actually loved the CGI version with Jim Carry, because Scrooge was kooky.

Still not as kooky as Drosselmeyer, but close.

It's a great story to read every year to get into the Christmas spirit.

And to quote at people who whine about Christmas-y things.


1. The Nativity Story, DUH.

I mean, apart from BEING THE BIRTH OF OUR LORD AND SAVIOR we wouldn't even have Christmas without it. 

And we wouldn't have kooky godfathers either.

Just like LOOK IT'S THE FIRST DOCTOR THE DOCTOR IS DROSSELMEYER I KNEW IT




Saturday, December 12, 2015

NuWho Reviews: Daleks in Manhattan, Evolution of the Daleks, and The Lazarus Experiment

Daleks in Manhattan

     It is the 1930's, and the Doctor is in New York. This is not the last time he will be in New York in the 1930's, which leads to ENDLESS TEARS. But we're not there yet. (I mean, we regularly get endless tears from this series, but that's beside the point.)

     There have been some odd disappearances in the city, which are being chalked up to Depression-related suicide. But Solomon, The Wise Old Man running a Hooverville, believes something more sinister is afoot. The Doctor, Martha, Solomon, and this kid named Frank decide to find out by signing up for construction work with Mr. Diagoras, whose name is sinister enough to give you pause.

     In the sewers, the Doctor finds goo (sewer goo becomes very important in Series 9, by the way), and then the pig monsters from Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs arrive. (Or, alternatively, the pig men from House on the Borderlands. Pick your flavor of terror.)

Piggy piggy no no piggy piggy GO HOME


     Frank is captured, and possibly gets bitten by a radioactive spider afterward, but the others escape into a theater, where they meet Tallulah, who is a very lovely showgirl but has a voice that will crack glass. Tallulah's boyfriend Laszlo was also captured by pig men. The Doctor Macgyvers together a matter analyzer for the goo, and promptly freaks out, while Martha and Tallulah chase a pig man back into the sewers. To no one's surprise, they discover the pig man is Laszlo, and no one who has read the title is surprised to find a Dalek either. The goo was leftover Dalek from an experiment gone wrong.

     How much of that goo was down there? Now that we know about what happens to dead Daleks, should we be concerned about a zombie Dalek goo uprising in New York? I'M VERY CONCERNED ABOUT THESE THINGS.

     Anyways, the Daleks are using "dumb" humans as pig slaves, and the smarter ones are being set aside for yet another attempt to merge Daleks and humans. It never works, but by Davros they are going to keep trying! Dalek Caan ponders this on the Empire State Building. Fans who saw The Chase giggled into their palms.

"So we pretend The Chase never happened?"
"NEVER. HAPPENED."


     Meanwhile, Dalek Sec drags Mr. Diagoras into his casing and merges with him, giving us this:


     Some fans laughed, some fans cried, some were just hypnotized by the way the tentacle dreads NEVER STOPPED TWITCHING.

     So what will happen now that we have a Dalek plan that actually seems to have succeeded?


Evolution of the Daleks

     So the plan is to combine Dalek DNA and human DNA, because that always turns out well, between the revolution and the existential crisis and the insanity. All they're waiting for is a gamma strike from a solar flare, because gamma energy totally works that way. Sec is already coming up with less world ending plans, and since the human bodies are already brain dead, the Doctor agrees to help Sec and drop them all off on a world where they can mind their own business, for once.

     The other Daleks think this plan is far too sensible, so it's mutiny time! Dalek Caan takes over, and Sec is chained up like a dog, because most aliens' superiority complexes involve equating humans with non-sentient species.

     The Doctor decides to climb to the top of the Empire State Building to pull off the Dalekanium panels that will conduct the gamma energy to the Daleks' lab. He doesn't succeed, so remember kids, when you're looking at the Empire State Building, you're looking at pieces of Dalek armor.

Show of hands, how many of you actually tried to climb up there and find out? That's what I thought. Why are you looking at this in prison?

     Anyways, the Doctor gets struck by a gamma strike which is totally not lightning. 

     The Dalek hybrids wake and stand around being paler than a Goth kid in the winter.



     Sec tries to talk some sense into the Daleks, because five minutes after absorbing a human he promptly forgets that Daleks are completely irrational. Because he is sane, he dies. Luckily, the Dalek hybrids have also gained some sanity and fight back, and point out that they aren't really Daleks. The Doctor agrees-the Super Magic Gamma Strike somehow infected them with Time Lord DNA. Dalek Caan, realizing that this will mean endless trolling, executes the hybrids, then uses the emergency temporal shift to hop over into the next season finale.


The Lazarus Experiment

     You know what fictional characters hate? Immortality serums. Drives 'em up the wall. After their "one" adventure, the Doctor drops Martha back off at her apartment, and they watch a clip of the news about an old guy changing the meaning of being "human". The Doctor leaves, then promptly comes back, because ADD affects Time Lords too.

     He and Martha decide to investigate, despite her mother being super suspicious of him, and also slapping him. 

He just can't win...


At Professor Lazarus' demonstration, the oldster enters a machine and comes out much younger. He promptly begins flirting with Martha's sister, while Martha and the Doctor examine the DNA sample (from where he kissed Martha's hand earlier) under a microscope.

     Turns out he activated some unknown gene, which is revealed when he turns into a scorpion-lizard thing and drains his "partner"'s energy. So, basically, it's straight out of the Lovecraft mythos. (No, seriously, there's a story out there-can't remember the name-where some guy doing experiments devolves into a lizard being.) Our heroes find him on the roof, putting the moves on Martha's sister, though he probably planned on devouring her literally, not figuratively. They all flee the transformed Lazarus, and the Doctor and Martha get locked in his transmogrification box.

I was mainly just looking for an excuse to use this.

     The Doctor reverses the polarity, because it's his go-to strategy when all else fails. It sends the box's energy out, seemingly killing Lazarus.

     But that would be way too easy! After the ambulance picks him up, he revives and noms the driver, then heads to the cathedral, where he hid during the London blitz. Through some very weird use of physics, the Doctor somehow manages to make the pipe organ hit just the right vibration to mess up Lazarus' fragile DNA, and he dies for reals this time. The Doctor and Martha head out for more adventures, and Martha doesn't get to hear her mother's frantic voicemail warning her about the terribleness that is the Doctor.

It's probably because she heard about this coat.



Monday, November 30, 2015

This is what happens when I try to analyze the stories for class

I tell you solemnly, that I have many times tried to become an insect.


Need some help with that, bro?



Monday, November 16, 2015

Sentient vegetables-what the Doctor thinks of everyone around him anyways


The Doctor's been everywhere else, he might as well faff about in a world of talking vegetables too.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

NuWho Reviews: The Runaway Bride, Smith and Jones, The Shakespeare Code, Gridlock

The Runaway Bride

When we last left our hero, he had an extremely emotional companion departure, then found an angry ginger on the TARDIS. Clearly this will end well!

After Donna rants at the Doctor, he drops her off on Earth so she can actually make it to her wedding. Unfortunately, the cab she gets is driven by one of those Death Santas, you know, the ones that show up for pretty much no reason at all. The Doctor flies the TARDIS after the cab and creates the best car chase in history. (Except for that ridiculously long car chase the Third Doctor got into, but let's not go into that.)

When the Doctor and Donna finally make it to her wedding, he looks at the footage of her abrupt disappearance and realizes she absorbed Huon Particles. Huon? Don't even know 'on!



This also means more Santas shows up. After a wacky fight, the Doctor discovers that Donna works at a place owned by Torchwood. She and her fiance take him there, where they find a creepy basement of death. 

And in that creepy basement of death is



WHY WHY WHY DOES IT ALWAYS HAVE TO BE SPIDERS WHY WHY WHY

Luckily, the Empress of the Racnoss is so delightfully, cheesily hammy that it's hard to take her seriously or be frightened of her at all. If all spiders talked to me like that, I'd spend my day laughing.

The Racnoss are a spider species that were supposedly wiped out long ago by the Time Lords, making the Time Lords heroes in my mind, no matter how annoying they are. The Empress has created a pit beneath the company for her nest. Lance has been dosing Donna's coffee with huon particles so she could be used as a key to free the creepy little brats. 

The Doctor and Donna go back to the formation of the Earth to see a Racnoss ship crash land and become the core of the planet, because THANKS DAVIES I DIDN'T NEED TO THINK ABOUT THE CORE OF PLANET EARTH BEING INFESTED BY SPIDERS.

When they return, Donna is kidnapped, Lance is killed because he has outlived his usefulness, and the Santas are now working for the Racnoss, because of course they are. The Racnoss start escaping and the Racnoss ship, which previously starred in Star Trek as the Crystalline Entity, starts shooting at random civilians, BECAUSE THE EMPRESS IS EVIL, CAN'T YOU TELL BY HER HAMMY ACTING?

The Doctor makes his usual offer of peace, which is rejected out of hand, and he goes full on Enraged Time Lord. He destroys one of the walls, unleashing the wrath of the River Thames and drowning the spiders, and Donna has to remind him to leave instead of staring broodily into the flames.

To be fair, this is what everyone looked like after Doomsday.


Then the Racnoss ship is destroyed because Mr. Saxon said so, and no one wants plastic daffodils again.

Donna decides not to travel with the Doctor, she's had more than enough excitement, thank you, but points out that the Doctor does need someone to travel with him. Because he gets loopier than usual after traveling alone for a while.


Smith and Jones

Martha is the previously Cyber-controlled Adeola's identical twin cousin. She is on her way to work at a hospital and runs into a strange man who removes his tie and walks away. But that's not even the strangest thing to happen. She gets to work and finds the same man, but he has no memory of her.

And then the hospital disappears to the moon.

Whether or not the Judoon cried "To the moon, Alice!" before transporting the hospital is unknown.


The hospital has been transported by the Judoon, an intergalactic police force with the empathy of the Vogons and the appearance of Rocksteady.

Actually, Rocksteady might be more intelligent than the Judoon.


The Judoon are searching for a nonhuman criminal in disguise. It is a plasmavore, so basically a shapeshifting vampire that doesn't sparkle, because that would be ridiculous.

Martha runs into John Smith again, who explains he's actually the Doctor. Meanwhile, the plasmavore is a sweet old lady sucking out blood with a straw, because this show needed more cheese. Since she has drank someone's blood she will register as human, because the Judoon's scientific instruments suck. The Doctor, meanwhile, has to avoid them, and they have to stop Florence Finnegan before the Judoon think the hospital is harboring her, because the Judoon are also kind of stupid.

I'm not sure what this says about Davies' opinion of British policemen.

After the Doctor destroys his sonic screwdriver killing one of Finnegan's henchmen and bounces around on one foot like an idiot, he snogs Martha to infect her with nonhuman DNA and confuse the Judoon (again, stupid) while he finds Finnegan. Upon finding her he has his blood drained, but luckily Martha arrives with the Judoon in time to do a scan on Finnegan, who is promptly executed. The Judoon then leave, Martha revives the Doctor because two hearts, and the hospital is actually put back, so I guess the Judoon aren't completely stupid.

The Doctor proves to Martha he can travel through time by trolling her the previous morning, and they fly off for "just one trip" and agree that she "totally isn't a replacement goldfish, or anything".

Here's your GIF of the Episode:




The Shakespeare Code

A young man serenades a young woman named Lillith. Because he hasn't heard any stories ever, he thinks her name is totally a nice name. She reveals she is wrinkled hag, just like her mothers, ObviousEvil and AlwaysEvil. They then devour him, because innuendo is a thing that happens.

Meanwhile, the Doctor and Martha are in Elizabethan London, attending a performance of Love's Labour's Lost. Sexy McEvil and her Evil Mothers voodoo Shakespeare into announcing a sequel the following night, Love's Labour's Won. Skeptical Doctor is Skeptical, so he decides to meet Shakespeare at the pub, where the playwright drinks a lot and hits on Martha, ignoring her pants (or focusing too strongly on them, whatever).

The Master of the Revels (which, despite it's cool name, was really about working for the MPAA) demands to see the script. The witches then voodoo him to death. They then Voodoo Shakespeare into writing an extra paragraph at the end of his play, frightens Shakespeare's lover to death, and flies away.

Meanwhile, the Doctor finds out the Globe has 14 sides, and the architect who built is insane. The witches told him how to build it, and they probably got their ideas from Nyarlathotep, because apparently he was interested in architecture or something. After the witches kill the architect, the Doctor realizes they're Carrionites-they manipulate psychic energy through words. Heck, they can't even hear their names said. I wonder what would happen if...


No, that's far too silly.

Anyways, the whole plan is that Shakespeare's play will free their species from prison, which makes this by far the wackiest jail break ever. They try to Voodoo the Doctor to death, but forget that Time Lords have two hearts. By the time the Doctor and Martha reach the theater, the portal has already opened up. But Shakespeare comes up with a short rhyming stanza to close it back.

Fun fact: my first exposure to Doctor Who was through Mugglenet. Everyone kept talking about this TV show that made Harry Potter references. Then I looked, saw how much I had to catch up on, and gave up.

Then I changed my mind, BECAUSE I AM A SMART PERSON.

Needless to say, this scene was my first taste of Doctor Who.



The Carrionites can't withstand the full force of the Potter fandom, and all are imprisoned back, to brood on the fact that THEY WILL NEVER READ THE SEVENTH BOOK.



Our heroes part ways: Shakespeare revealing he totally knows about time travel, and the Doctor and Martha having to flee Queen Elizabeth's soldiers because SOMEONE NEVER CAME BACK AFTER THE WEDDING.


Gridlock

The Doctor decides to take Martha to New Earth. But New Earth has become a dystopian novel, and not even a bad YA dystopian novel. People sell mood patches like drugs, because life is so dull that they need to manufacture their moods. Wait, maybe this is a bad YA dystopian novel.

Regardless, Martha gets kidnapped by a young couple. Why? They need three passengers so they can use the fast lane. They're only going ten miles. No problem, right? Oh, ten miles takes only six years or so. And there's something rumored to live in the fast lane, where cars never return...

The Doctor enters the Motorway, an enclosed highway full of hover cars that are packed in like sardines and barely move. He pops into a car, owned by Thomas Kincade Brannigan, his wife Valerie, and their kittens.

Yeah, Thomas is a cat person. Valerie is human. They have kittens. Try not to think too hard about it.

DON'T THINK. JUST LOOK AT THE KITTEN.


The police put him on hold, because this is a dystopian novel, so the Doctor goes from van to van, trying to find Martha. Unbeknownst to him, Novice Hame is apparently not in police custody, and is chasing after him. Meanwhile, Martha's kidnappers have entered the fast lane. A car radios them, telling them to escape, before being eaten. Despite this, the kidnappers decide to stay in the fast lane.

The Doctor finds himself just above the fast lane, and sees what the trouble is. The fast lane is filled with giant alien crabs. Why? WE DON'T KNOW. Martha cuts the power to the car to keep the Macra from finding them, and Novice Hame teleports the Doctor to the senate building.

The Face of Boe is back! Novice Hame has been caring for him as her penance. Apparently a mood drug called Bliss mutated a virus, which wiped out the surface population in minutes. The motorway was sealed to keep the ones left alive, and the Face of Boe has kept the motorway operational. However, to power it up enough to re-open the motorway, the Face of Boe sacrifices his life energy and dies, but not before telling the Doctor his secret:

YOU ARE NOT ALONE

Fans exploded, the Doctor's eyes somehow get bigger, and he finally opens up to Martha.

In a Dystopian Novel, random chairs are found in back alleys all the time.

I liked this, both as an ending for the Face of Boe and the possibility of another Time Lord being around. (Hands up, how many knew exactly which Time Lord it would be? That's right, all of us did.) The Macra seemed kind of random. It's never explained how they got there or why they were there.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Book Review: The Twelve Caesars by Matthew Dennison

     Since Rome: An Empire's Story didn't quite satisfy me, I decided to pick up The Twelve Caesars. I thought it looked quite interesting, as it combined the original Twelve Caesars, along with some other sources, with modern scholarship. I would say overall it achieved its purpose, but at the same time, I once again feel like I didn't quite get the whole story.

     Part of the problem is that we once again have stories that skip back and forth. Is this part of modern literature now? One of my creative writing professor's critiques was that my stories were entirely chronological, as though you have to have flash backs and time skips to be interesting. Sometimes that works, but sometimes that doesn't, and to be honest my mind works chronologically. Dennison writes engaging stories regarding the emperors, but we wander back and forth through their lives, referencing things that happened years before the emperor becomes, well, an emperor. Sometimes this works out, such as the chapter taking on a "how did we get to the point of the Praetorian guard murdering another emperor?", but other times it seems arbitrary.

     The other problem is that Dennison, bless his heart, tries to be a wacky, comedic British bawd, and it just doesn't work. I don't need snide remarks on the emperor's decadent sex lives, thank you very much. I don't care if Suetonius and Tacitus did it, you don't need to do it too. I'm here for the history. If I want bawdy comedy I'd read Shakespeare.

     What this amounts to is that, while informative and engaging, it's hard to tell how much you're reading is based on scholarship and how much is Dennison cracking jokes about some of the ancient scholars' more exaggerated stories of the emperors. Dennison also tries to make the book chatty by using sentence fragments a lot, which just really bothers me. When did "make a book interesting" become "make a book stupid"? Look, I love history, but I don't like the stuffy, droning books any more than other people do. But that doesn't mean I don't want complete sentences and serious scholarship. This isn't to say that Dennison isn't a serious scholar. But it doesn't come across that way in the book.

     Anyways, all that is water under the bridge. I've left the Roman empire behind, and I'm now reading about the Middle Ages, because we can all use more Charlemagne in our lives.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Book Review: Rome: An Empire's Story by Greg Woolf

Let's take a break from Doctor Who to talk about history-namely, Rome. And I don't mean that time the Doctor gave Nero the idea to burn the city down.



    I've always been rather interested in how Rome went from being a gung-ho republic to accepting an emperor and the figurehead nature of the Senate. Well, it didn't happen overnight (and, in my next review of a book about Rome, it will become apparent that republic ideals didn't entirely fade).

     I'll be honest, I went into this book expecting a chronological view of the process. As such, I felt a bit disoriented by how Woolf jumped from subject to subject. While there is some chronology, it is really about how each aspect of Roman identity altered over the course of hundreds of years. This was an interesting take on it, but I still think that it would have been better to go chronologically. It would have felt a little more seamless.

     Woolf starts by pointing out the obvious: the basis for empire was already there, in Roman thought. Rome was imperial long before there was an actual emperor. When Rome began to fracture from civil war, it revealed a power gap that one person could easily step into. The senate's power was fading long before the emperors took it entirely away.

     The book was a bit of a slow one. That said, it wasn't really long enough to give a good comprehensive view. Woolf hits some good points, but it covers such a long period that we get an overview of each aspect, such as war and slavery. Woolf maintains a neutral tone throughout the book.

     Until we get to the rise of Christianity. Quite suddenly, Woolf's even tone becomes a bit vicious toward the Christian emperors, and toward Christians in general. This was a huge turn off. Look, guys, we can say all we want that we need to keep an "open mind" about things we don't agree with, but you try reading a book that viciously criticizes everything you believe in. No one likes that. And that's what Woolf does. He takes jabs at saints "gleefully" chronicling martyrs' fates, showing a fundamental misunderstanding of Christian thought regarding martyrdom. If you're going to criticize someone, you need to understand how they think first. And Woolf doesn't. This is after he deals with various religious beliefs in the Roman empire with the same neutral tone that he uses for the rest of the book.

     Overall, this book was a good overview of the rise of the Roman empire and the impulses that led to it. But the incredibly long period makes it hard to hit nuances, and Woolf dropping his objective tone when speaking of Christianity shows either a hostility so innate he can't fight it, or a decision that he doesn't need to be objective on that one subject. Neither one speaks well of his objectivity as a historian.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

NuWho Reviews: Love and Monsters, Fear Her, Army of Ghosts, and Doomsday

Love and Monsters

Welcome, kids, to the WESLEY OF THE DOCTOR WHO SERIES.

Here we have Russell T. Davies attempting to be incredibly meta in his storytelling. In that, we have a group of obsessed Doctor Who fans meeting to discuss the Doctor. Elton Pope is the geekiest of all Whovians, who makes vlogs about his love of Doctor Who. All the people in this group (called LINDA because complicated acronyms are a staple of geek culture, or something) have run into the Doctor at some point in their lives.

Then, a man named Victor Kennedy appears, and begins pushing the members ever further into searching for the Doctor. Elton tries to get close to Jackie, who "accidentally" spills wine on his shirt and is generally uncomfortable, then kicks him out the moment she realizes why he's trying to get close to her.

3...2...1...


Meanwhile, the members are disappearing.

It turns out, Victor Kennedy is a being known as an Abzorbaloff, who, well, absorbs his victims. He wants to absorb the Doctor, which is why he insinuated himself into the group. His victims, however, fight back from within. Elton breaks his cane, which was actually a field generator keeping the Abzorbaloff's body in place. The Doctor explains he met Elton while trying to stop elemental shades, which sounds like a story that would have been a lot more interesting than this one.

It ends with Moaning Myrtle being encased in stone while still dating Elton, leaving us all with the horrible, horrible mental images this presents.

It is known as one of the most hated Doctor Who episodes ever, and those mental images are probably the reason. Now, where are those memory worms?

Wait, what was I just talking about? Ah, well, moving on...



Fear Her

The TARDIS arrives just in time for the 2012 Olympics. The neighborhood there is preparing for the torch bearer to pass through, but several children have disappeared, and cars are breaking down. The Doctor and Rose decide to find out the connection.

The Doctor traces the problems to a little girl named Chloe, who can apparently make people disappear by drawing pictures of them, trapping them in the drawing. Or, rather, the energy being that's possessing her can do so. (Those wacky energy beings, amirite?)

But seriously, it must be hard to get attention with all those siblings.


The Isolus apparently travels through the universe with billions of siblings, and one can feel sorry for the poor parents that have to referee on the road trip. Separated from its family, it was drawn to Chloe's own loneliness.

And her traumatic past involving an abusive father who is now a giant drawing in her closet, which is not creepy at all.

Unfortunately, the Isolus is dumb, and traps the Doctor and the TARDIS in a drawing as well. Then she disappears the entire Olympic Stadium. Luckily, Rose manages to find the Isolus' travel pod and tosses it into the Olympic Torch, because apparently the pod runs on the Care Bear Stare. The drawings come to life, including Crazy-Monster-Dad-Drawing, which is defeated by the Kookaburra song.

To complete the complete and utter cheese, the Doctor then runs the Torch to the stadium. One can imagine the paradoxes created when David Tennant was not the one to do so in our reality. I'm going to blame all current problems on this paradox.

If David Tennant had run the Olympic Torch, then the lizard people wouldn't have taken over.....Wait.


Also, the Doctor adds that a storm is coming, because he clearly got hold of the script from the BBC.

So this episode was...all right? Okay? It was a bit strange, and the whole "monster dad" thing seemed to have been thrown in there last minute to have an actual villain. And, as pointed out, this episode was just full of cheese, not that I'm complaining since I'm the one that likes Hartnell in all his cheesy glory.


Army of Ghosts

Hey, I read a book like that once!

Actually, this does not involve Internet debates regarding the Civil War. Instead, it involves Rose explaining to us that she is going to die.



Anyways, the Doctor and Rose pay Jackie a visit, only to discover that Jackie is expecting her father for dinner. Her dead father. To everyone's surprise, a glowy figure actually does appear. It turns out, everyone is having this experience, because when I see a vague glowy figure, I assume it's the ghost of my cat Bubba, come back to visit me.

The Doctor conducts an experiment with the TARDIS and the Ghostbusters theme song, and discover that of course they're not ghosts, they're something pushing through into our universe, and the Doctor tracks the signal to...

Any resemblance to anatomy is entirely the fault of Jack Harkness, who most likely designed the logo without anyone suspecting anything.

The Torchwood Institute, run by Yvonne Hartman. But it's okay! They aren't really mad at the Doctor anymore, despite Queen Victoria being unamused. While Rose is stuck in the TARDIS, the Doctor insists to everyone that Jackie is Rose. Skeptical looks abound.

The source of the ghosts is a breach between universes, and not only do they get ghosts, they get a spherical object known as a "Void Ship". It travels through the Void. Whether or not it runs into Morgoth and Sauron is entirely up to your imagination.

Meanwhile, Rose sneaks into the sphere chamber, only to discover Mickey! When Rose is caught, the Doctor has to admit that Jackie is actually Rose's mum.



Three employees, who have disappeared and come back acting strangely, then expand the breach, allowing the ghosts to manifest fully...

Yeah, they're Cybermen. But wait, there's more! For the price of a million Cybermen, you also get...



To be fair, Daleks cost a lot more because everyone thinks they're precious.



Doomsday

So we got yer Daleks, we got yer Cybermen, and we got yer Void ship. One Dalek, calling itself Dalek Sec to everyone's surprise, brain sucks someone to death, without making any jokes about "starving to death". The Cybermen offer to rule together, and we get this glorious, beautiful exchange:



I swear, the Daleks get snarkier every year.

The Cybermen start converting people, in that delightful scene where we see all manner of chopping and buzzing, and then Jake Simmonds destroys the Cyber leader, because he hasn't been able to blow up Cybermen for a while. He and his crew have been using devices to pass between universes, It turns out, once the Cybermen vanished into the breach in the parallel universe, that universe started experiencing catastrophe, meaning both universes will fall into the Void, which will only annoy Morgoth further.

It turns out, the sphere is Time Lord technology-a prison called the Genesis Ark. It's activated by touch, which...well...

Yeah, that doesn't work. Unfortunately, Mickey accidentally touches it anyways, because he's Mickey, and millions of Daleks start streaming out.

It turns out that anyone who passes through the Void gets covered in Void material, which defeats the purpose of it being a Void in the first place, and if he reverses the breach all the Cybermen and Daleks will get sucked back in.

Everyone there will also be sucked back in, so the Doctor sends them all to the parallel universe. Rose, being really smart, changes her mind, because that's a great time to change your mind, and nearly gets sucked in trying to get back to the Doctor, before Pete grabs onto her and teleports her into the parallel universe.

THEN WE GET THIS SCENE. DAVIES IS GOING TO THE SPECIAL HELL.



Some time later, the Doctor manages to call Rose to Bad Wolf Bay, where he uses a supernova to say goodbye and fail to express his true feelings, because Davies is a terrible, sadistic person.

Then he turns around and finds an enraged Catherine Tate in a wedding dress.



So that was the finale! I actually did enjoy this: the snarking between the Daleks and the Cybermen, the power of Yvonne Hartman's Britishness overcoming conversion, and the mental images of Davies' head on a pike for what he has done to us all.

Here, have some more Dalek/Cybermen cattiness. You need it. You know you do.

The Dalek stole Kaylee's favorite dress because Fox hasn't tortured us enough.