Saturday, January 30, 2016

NuWho Reviews: The Eleventh Hour, The Beast Below, and Victory of the Daleks

The Eleventh Hour

When we last saw our hero, he had just regenerated into Matt Smith, and also set his TARDIS on fire. He crash lands in Leadworth, where a 7 year old Amelia Pond has just finished praying that Santa Claus fix the crack in her wall. Santa is far too busy punching heretics, so he just lets the Doctor handle it. He's a bit loopy, so Amelia tries to find food he likes. For the record, the Doctor is pickier than I am.

Yet considers this combination to be perfectly acceptable.

I should also note I happened to be eating fish sticks the night I watched this episode. I felt deeply sad I didn't have any custard on hand, and the grocery store had already closed.

The Doctor sonics open the crack in her wall, only to find a giant eyeball, as you do. It tells the Doctor that "Prisoner Zero" has escaped, but before the Doctor or the audience can figure that one out, The TARDIS cloister bell starts up again. The Doctor decides to take her on a quick spin, like making sure your tires really are on and aren't going to fall off. He leaves Amelia sitting on her suitcase.

When the Doctor returns, he runs in to let Amelia know what Prisoner Zero is. But instead, he is simply knocked out with a cricket bat.

Meanwhile, a nurse named Rory is being adorable and slightly concerned that comatose patients are walking off, asking for the Doctor.

When the Doctor wakes up, he is accosted by a sexy policewoman. Also, there are weird monsters in there, including a man with a dog. The man barks. The Doctor then realizes the shed he destroyed is already rebuilt and

Ohhhh it's been twelve years, not twelve hours! Whoops!

"But...but at least...I didn't strand you in Aberdeen?"
"I'M SCOTTISH"

No, let's back up. Twelve years, four psychiatrists. Amelia kept biting them. And the Doctor was considered Amy's imaginary friend that she made dolls and drawings of, until now, when everyone sees him. Awkward!

Meanwhile, the giant eyeball, known as the Atraxi, is still babbling about Patient Zero, and threatening to destroy Earth, because the Atraxi are almost as smart as the Judoon.

In an even more awkward turn, we find out Amy used to make her boyfriend Nurse Rory dress up as the Doctor when they were kids. Move along, nothing to see here.

Rory explains the coma patients' behavior, and the Doctor realizes Patient Zero is shapeshifting by linking to other minds. The Doctor finds a way to distract the Atraxi for a bit, while Amy finds out that her policewoman costume fools people despite the extremely short skirt. What kind of policewomen do they have over there, anyways? The Doctor uses the psychic link to make Amy remember Prisoner Zero's real form, and the Atraxi catch him. They then warn the Doctor that "The Pandorica will open, and silence will fall". I LOVE CRYPTIC WARNINGS LET'S HAVE MORE CRYPTIC WARNINGS.

The Doctor gets angry and actually demands they return, so he can explain to them just how they violated the law, and also puts on a bow tie. The Atraxi are so terrified they flee.

The bow tie was slightly crooked, and the Atraxi suffer OCD.

Two years later (this Doctor is really bad at timing), Amy decides to go on adventures with the Doctor.

Helpfully forgetting her wedding. These crazy brides, amirite?


Edit: I just realized I kept writing "Patient Zero" instead of "Prisoner Zero". I'm not changing it, because Doctor Who can always use more zombies.

The Beast Below

First off, the TARDIS apparently has a forcefield that extends out to space. So you can float in space. Nightgowns magically stay down instead of floating above your head.

But that doesn't matter, because apparently schools are so strict in the future that if you do badly on a test, you have to look at a really really horrible clown head, and then you aren't allowed to ride the elevator, said consequence being sent...down below.

fnarrr

The Doctor and Amy arrive at the good Starship UK. After Earth was nearly destroyed by solar flares (and presumably kept around so we can have The End of the World), people took to the stars in giant spaceship versions of their countries. (Scotland finally seceded with their own spaceship.) However, he and Amy notice something...such as everyone desperately ignoring a crying child. There's also the Doctor putting a glass of water on the floor and claiming it's for an escaped fish.

he's more right than he realizes

Amy follows the little girl, Mandy, sees a giant tentacle, and winds up getting sprayed with sleeping gas by mysterious Hooded Figures.

The Doctor also meets a Hooded Figure, a woman in a creepy mask, who gets what he was doing with the glass of water: testing for engine vibration. Of which there are none. She calls herself Liz 10, and I honestly thought she was an android at this point.

"Do not look for any period of time at the Hooded Figures."
"Then...then how do I talk to you?"

Meanwhile, Amy is in a voting booth. She must watch a video, and has three buttons: protest, forget, and record. The video is apparently really bad, as it seems to involve lots of violence and screaming, and Amy is so horrified that she presses forget.

She apparently also recorded a message to herself: get the Doctor off the ship. The Doctor shows up at that point, and decides to investigate...by hitting protest. They go down the worst water slide ever, and find themselves in a giant mouth. Instead of attempting to speak whale a la Dory, the Doctor triggers the thing to vomit, and then they escape!

Right into the horrible clown robots. The only way to escape? Another forget button.

Liz 10 arrives in time to rescue them. How can she?

Well, she's the bloody queen. She is the tenth Queen Elizabeth, and she is slightly cockney. Cheeky writers. However, Liz 10 is arrested as well, and the three of them are taken to the "Tower" of London.

The Tower has a really creepy set up going on. A laser firing into parts of a giant brain, and the Doctor realizes the tentacle, the mouth, and the brain are all from the same creature, captured 200 years earlier when it landed on Earth and tortured into carrying the ship along to save people from burning up on Earth. The Queen? Her body clock has been slowed: she's 200 years old. Every ten years, she has a choice: forget, or abdicate, in which case the ship will disintegrate. People have no real choice. No one can walk away from Omelas.

The Doctor yells at Amy a lot and shows us he can still be nice and self-righteous when he wants to be, and luckily Amy can still think enough to realize that the Space Whale vomited up the children that had disobeyed the rules, and is playing with them.

Hey, idiots? Maybe you should have realized the Star Whale was okay with this, like 200 years ago, and didn't need to torture it. She forces Liz 10 to hit abdicate, upon which the Star Whale continues flying along, being...Star Whaley. Then she draws a kind of on the nose comparison to the Doctor, and they hug it out.

"Doctor?"
"Yeah?"
"Why are all higher life forms self-righteous? I mean, you have the Q, you've got Vorlons, then you have..."
"I'M NOT ANSWERING THAT"


And then Winston Churchhill calls.

Wait, what?

Yeah, Winston needs a favor. There's a Dalek silhouette being mysterious in the background. Forget Space Whales, we have cigars to smoke and brandy to drink! TO THE 40S! And to blatantly ignore that crack in the spaceship what.

For the record, I thought this was a decent opening to the 11th Doctor, showing us how he's made better by his companions. And doesn't go quite as loopy.


Victory of the Daleks

Look, I know people think Daleks are overused, but they're like crack to me. They're so angry, and their schemes are so ridiculous!

The London Blitz is on. It is entirely possible the Ninth Doctor and Rose are somewhere in the city at the same time, so let that blow your mind for a bit. Done? Okay. The Blitz is on. Churchhill is chomping at cigars even more than usual. Also, the Doctor is a month late. Oops!

It's all right, though. Churchhill has come up with a secret weapon, thanks to Scottish scientist Bracewell. They call it the "Ironside" and

If you didn't let out an undignified squee when you saw this, then you are colder than a Dalek's heart.

Oh. OH.

While Bracewell insists he totally invented Daleks, the Daleks themselves offer tea and scrumpets, and everything about this is wonderful and hilarious.

Unfortunately, the Doctor doesn't see the humor in the situation. He declares himself their enemy, and calls them by name...

Which is enough to activate something called a Progenitor Device, which couldn't be opened by the few Daleks that escaped beforehand because they were made from Davros' cells and therefore not "pure". The characters barely restrain themselves from Godwinning. However, the machine totally accepts the Doctor's testimony, because who can you trust if not your mortal enemy?

Also, Bracewell is an android. A cute, awkward android, which makes him kind of like a steampunk Data.

Anyways, it all ends in the Progenitor Device creating what has come to be known as Skittles Daleks. The other Daleks are happy to be exterminated to make way for these new, delicious versions.

Taste the rainbow!

Amy convinces Bracewell that being an android is no reason to commit suicide, because he isn't Lore, so it's okay. They try to stop the Daleks from brightening up London in time for another blitz, via space-modified Spitfires.

Yes, space-modified Spitfires. Just go with it.

The Doctor attempts to bluff the new Daleks with a jammy dodger, and the fact that it even works for a second says a whole lot about the Daleks.

Then, it turns out Bracewell is a bomb, poor guy, but luckily, the Daleks' control over him can be deactivated simply by thinking really hard. Really, really hard. The Daleks shake their plungers in rage and disappear to a future episode (as they do), but that doesn't matter, because apparently Amy has no memory of that time the Daleks tried to destroy all the things. Whaaaat?

AND ALSO THERE IS ANOTHER CRACK.


So, looking back, this was a pretty silly episode. I didn't hate the Skittles Daleks as much as other people apparently did, although the question of "why do they have different colors if they see everything in blue?" is a very good one. Still, it wasn't that bad, and it continues the Giant Crack of Doom story arc.

Next up, nightmare fuel and HAIR.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Book Review: King Solomon's Mines by H. Rider Haggard



Let's just admit it right now. My only exposure to Allan Quatermain is from The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, so understand that I first started reading the book in Sean Connery's voice.

However, it wasn't long before I realized that voice is very incongruous with our hero. While Allan Quatermain would certainly be considered quite the manly man, given that he is a big game hunter, the man tends to get caught in trouble by accident rather than seeking it, and he tries to think his way through problems. At one point, he breaks down into tears and, at the end, is still having PTSD nightmares about his experiences.

Our hero: practical, thoughtful, flawed.

But before we get more into that, let's discuss the plot. While traveling back to his home, Quatermain runs into Sir Henry Curtis, who, along with naval Captain Good, is searching for Curtis' younger brother. Two years earlier, the brother went searching for King Solomon's Mines, a diamond mine that was the source of King Solomon's fabled wealth. They seek out Quatermain because a descendant of the supposed discoverer of the mines left a map in his care. Quatermain is reluctant to go on a trip across the searing desert, but agrees when Sir Henry promises a stipend to Quatermain's son if the hunter dies.

They take along a cryptic, dignified native porter named Umbopa, who seems to know more than he is letting on. The first part of the journey involves surviving the heat of the desert, the dangers of angry elephants (goodbye, redshirt servant number one), and the opposite issue of climbing a freezing  mountain (goodbye, redshirt servant number two). They find the body of the map's maker, Jose Silvestre, in an icy cave. But when they come down on the other side, they find a lush land inhabited by a warrior race known as the Kuakana. They see Captain Good's false teeth, monocle, half-shaven face, and pale legs ("beautiful white legs" hahahahaha I need to find a lost kingdom so they can admire my legs), as well as the previously unknown guns, and deem the men gods. While they journey to the capital city, they get some back story.

The previous king was usurped by his brother, Twala, and the queen fled across the mountains with her young son. The Kuakana assume that the two died, but by this point the reader and all of the main characters are giving Umbopa the side-eye.

They have to deal with Twala's skepticism, as well as the suspicions of his witch advisor, Gagool. The first night in the capital, our heroes see a "witch hunt"-Gagool and her witch finders sniff out witches and have them killed in front of everyone. She claims that Umbopa is a witch, but the adventurers use their status (and guns) to protect him. Another character notes that all the "witches" killed that night are of noble status-related to the king in some way. I love this, because it's never stated outright, but it's pretty obvious Gagool is somehow able to sense noble blood and is knocking off any possible competition for Twala.

Sure enough, Umbopa reveals himself as Ignosi, and asks the adventurers' help in regaining his kingdom.

The next night, our heroes come up with a way to turn the people to Ignosi. Quatermain, Good, and Curtis are tasked with showing them a "sign". Good thing they've been keeping track of the eclipse schedule! This might be an overdone trope today, but it was still pretty fresh when this book was written. Our heroes use an "eclipse" as a sign, and when the king's son seems ready to sacrifice a pretty girl to the nearby "gods" anyways, Good straight up kills him. The girl, Foulata, latches onto Good with a fierce loyalty and flees with them as order starts collapsing in the kingdom.

As you can tell, we still haven't actually gotten to the mines. But we still have a Really Big Fight! Ignosi and his forces station themselves at a fort which was used to quarantine soldiers returning from other lands. A fight seems hopeless at first, even when our heroes use their guns: Twala's forces are just too many. But Ignosi comes up with a clever 300-style ploy, and the morale boost from Curtis and Good's fighting makes it possible for the outnumbered rebels to send the Empire running. (That's another thing-Quatermain gets Bilbo'd on the head in the first round, and then just sort of blanks out in the second round. Our hero, everyone!)

They march on the capital, Twala and Curtis duel until Twala is beheaded, and Ignosi is crowned king.

In the downtime, they make plans to find the mines, while Foulata cares for Good, who is suffering from a fever. Quatermain is concerned, because it's obvious she's in love with him, and he's aware Good will pretty easily fall in love with her right back.

Once Good recovers, Ignosi brings our heroes to Gagool, the only person who knows the entrance to the mines. She's apparently incredibly ancient, and her great age and her bizarre knowledge of the adventurers' movements is never really explained. It's implied that she did something to Don Silvestre when he journeyed there in the 16th century, but our heroes don't find out until later.

In the mines, they find the hall where dead kings are kept, and then Gagool shows them the entrance, where they find Don Silvestre's bag still sitting on the floor. You'd think our heroes would suspect something very early on and not go all the way in, but no, they go in and get themselves distracted by shiny things. Gagool tries to run out and shut the door on our heroes, but Foulata wrestles with her until she is stabbed. Gagool doesn't quite make it and is crushed beneath the heavy door.

Foulata dies, and with Gagool dead our heroes spend a couple days trying to eat the food as sparingly as possible. This is where Quatermain cries in despair, but then they realize that they haven't run out of air-it's still fresh. They find a trap door and after a difficult trek through some tunnels, they come out on the other side of the mines.

Also? I love that Quatermain was like "well, since we're getting out of here I might as well grab some diamonds while I'm at it".

When they get back, King Ignosi begs them to stay-he's really become attached to them-but our heroes are eager to get back home. Understanding that longing for home, he bids them farewell.

Their guides show them a different, easier way across the mountains. To their surprise, they find a hut in the last oasis before the desert. What do you know, it's Curtis' brother! His legs had been crushed by rocks, and he had been living there with his servant, who was just preparing to journey to the nearest civilization for help. The group leaves together, and the struggle across the desert with Curtis' crippled brother is not described much.

At the end, our heroes are pretty well off from the diamonds they have, Quatermain is finishing up his book for his son to send for publication, and preparing to journey to England to visit his friends.

I loved this book. It was adventurous, it had great descriptions and interesting characters, and quite frankly I was pleasantly surprised to find that Quatermain was a fairly ordinary guy. Also, while this had some uncomfortable assumptions about African natives (not surprising, given the time period this was written in), Haggard actually avoided some very horrible tropes. Maybe the "noble native" is just as offensive today, but it's something to see this admiration for them. Our heroes don't pretend to be gods out of condescension (although Ignosi gets a kick out of it), they do it to keep themselves alive.

Foulata is probably the saddest example in the book. Haggard almost seemed to be making a commentary on the mores of the day. Foulata is depicted as beautiful, intelligent, and intensely loyal and caring. Her first lines are almost poetic. Quatermain's problem with her and Good's budding relationship is based on the problems society has with that relationship. I'm not sure how progressive Haggard was in regards to race relations, but at the very least he was showing a tragedy that Foulata was of a different race, and that she thought herself inferior based on that race. (On the other hand, it's telling that the hero of the book rejects the "n" term.)

This was a riveting story, and probably the main reason I've stayed up too late for the past few weeks.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

NuWho Reviews: The Tenth Doctor Specials

We are nearing the sad, sad end of the Tenth Doctor era, but first, we have a fair amount of specials to get through. Without a regular companion the Doctor drifted, much like the specials did. But it wrapped up in an amazing way, and gives me plenty of chances to make James Bond jokes!

But first, let's see what happens when the Governor gets confused and thinks he's the Doctor.

The Next Doctor

The Doctor arrives in Victorian London (his most favorite time period ever, because the BBC has TONS of outfits from their period dramas to reuse) and discovers that another man, also calling himself the Doctor, is in danger. Actual Doctor teams up with him and his companion, Rosita, to capture a Cybershade, which is basically a robot cat, which is basically Ravage.

I think I'll keep one locked up in my house. AMIRITE AMIRITE

The Doctor suspects this Doctor is a future version of himself, suffering some mild amnesia. They investigate disappearances, leading them to a house where they find Cybermen data scrolls, which are basically the hipster version of memory cards. Next recalls seeing these the night he lost his memory.

Next recommends they go to his TARDIS. Which is a giant air balloon.

SO NOW WE'RE IN STEAMPUNK DOCTOR WHO, which will get considerably worse once Twelvy shows up. There is a bit of subterfuge when we see Next with a fob watch, but no, silly fans, sometimes a fob watch is just a fob watch. The Doctor realizes the guy is actually the first missing person, Jackson Lake. The data scrolls are all information on the Doctor, and it was imprinted on the poor man's mind.

While Jackson Lake has an existential crisis worthy of a puzzled Dalek, the Doctor and Rosita investigate an underground complex worthy of Dickens. Sad orphans are put to work for the Cybermen, under the supervision of Mercy Hartigan, a rather cruel, intelligent woman with an uncomfortable fetish for robots. (10-1 she'd be all over Data the moment she saw him.) She's hooked up and ready to become Cyber King, asks her right hand Cyberman to "turn her on" (causing thousands of fans to scream "that's what she said") and becomes a giant mecha, because steampunk wasn't enough, we must now have anime.

Cyber King: More Than Meets The Eye!

By this time, Jackson has recovered his memories. He encountered the Cybermen when he moved into his new home, which is fairly close to the Cybermen's base. While Miss Hartigan goes a little mad with power and double entendres, the Doctor, Jackson, and Rosita rescue the children (including Jackson's young missing son). The Doctor uses the balloon to talk to Miss Hartigan, who of course refuses his offer of mercy.

It's the Victorian Era, I've been saving up the dirty jokes for a long time.

He uses the data scrolls to sever her link to the Cybermen, and she is so horrified that her emotions cause the Cybermen to do the Harlem Shake, per usual. The Doctor uses the dimensional vault to knock everything into the Time Vortex, which hopefully will have no future repercussions whatsoever.

The Doctor has a sad dinner with Jackson then flies off, alone, to the next special. This was an interesting special. It started out rather confusing, but Miss Hartigan made an amazing villain.


Planet of the Dead

Well, this sounds optimistic!

It starts out so, at least. We've got ourselves a bonafide cat burglar in tight clothing, with some noble credentials to boot! Lady Christina steels King Aethelstan's cup from a museum, because the old guy isn't using it anyways, and hops aboard a bus. The Doctor is tracking down a wormhole and joins her for epic flirting, and also a journey through a tunnel with a wormhole in it.

To be fair, we all thought tunnels had wormholes in them when we were kids.

As a result they get themselves stranded on a desert planet. Wait, are we doing another bottle episode?

I swear, I'll stop using this gif. Promise.

They can't leave, because the bus driver's flesh gets disintegrated when he runs back through. On the other side, the police who were pursuing Lady Christina call UNIT, who send a couple twitchy Whovians, Captain Erisa Magambo and Malcolm Taylor. The Doctor, by the way, can tell when Captain Magambo salutes him, even through the phone. He's just good that way. Malcolm, meanwhile, fanboys out completely.

HELLO! FROM THE OTHER SIDE!

While Carmen is unhelpfully psychic, the Doctor and Christina go on a flirty walk to investigate the planet. They run into some Tritovores, which are basically Steve Gutenberg from The Fly. The Tritovores explain that their ship crashed when they were making a supply run-and the planet wasn't deserted last time they came through. A cloud approaches, and we get mecha-stingrays that create wormholes by flying really fast around planets. So, basically, that time Superman did time travel. The Tritovores are sadly killed, because they were wearing red shirts that day.

Did I mention the stingrays devour literally everything?

Also? That's not sand.

By this point, Malcolm has geniused his way into find out how to close the wormhole, but he refuses to shut it on the Doctor. Luckily, Aethelstan's cup, which he is not drinking from, can be used to connect the bus to the spaceship. They make it back, Malcolm declares his undying love for the Doctor, and the Doctor helps Christina escape custody, disappearing forever into the black hole that was the unfilmed 27th season of Doctor Who.

I promise I won't judge your seventh incarnation on his Scottish brogue.

Carmen has some unhelpfully psychic things to say to him, though.

"Your song is ending."

She hangs out with the Ood on her days off.

"It is returning."

The Doctor will finally find his lost sock.

"He will knock four times."

T$#^#$YHRSGEHEYWREET#QFEWGYU%JTF$#!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


The Water of Mars

We were all pretty geared up for the Master, but instead, we get water on Mars. Which has been discovered recently, and gave rise to a thousand Doctor Who references. This serial gave us good reason to be immediately suspicious of any discovery on Mars.

The Doctor arrives on Mars. He did not use a rocket ship, to Draco Malfoy's eternal sorrow. He discovers the first human colony on the planet, Bowie Base One, named after David Bowie.



It's okay. I'm okay. unexpected feels are unexpected

The Doctor has some feels too. He has landed on the very day that the base is destroyed by a nuclear blast, although the event would cause humanity to further explore the cosmos and boldly go where no one has gone before

Captain Adelaide Brooke, whose descendants will kick off this exploration out of respect for her, is having trouble reaching her team in the biodome. This is because two of them are water zombies, with their faces cracking and gushing ater. The Doctor disses the small cute robot (which is clearly inferior to robot dogs) while trying to figure out why people are water zombies, and what precisely is wrong with Russell T. Davies, and what we ever did to deserve this.

They laughed at him. But now they're screaming.

The water zombies are infected by a virus, who demands to go to Earth for more water, because the Ice Warriors are jerks. The Doctor is eager to leave before he is tempted in changing a fixed point in time, and redirects the suspicious Adelaide into talking about that time the Daleks invaded, and one let her live. The Doctor thinks it's because she is a fixed point in time, but given the Daleks were trying to destroy reality, that was probably just another mentally deficient Dalek. They tend to be less kill-happy than the others, oddly enough.

Anyways, Adelaide wanted to meet other aliens, that presumably would not kill her either.

When some of the water zombies start letting water gush out into the base, the Doctor is forced to explain to Adelaide why he has to leave. He is about to, but hears their struggles to live and their suffering, and...

He kind of goes a little crazy. He babbles about being the only Time Lord snrk and how he is the Time Lord Victorious, and he starts sounding a lot like another dude and hey with the War Doctor and Handy isn't this technically his twelfth regeneration?

Keep smirking, Graveyard, all they'll do is make vague references to you all the time.

Anyways, Doctor be crazy, and when he and the last three survivors arrive on Earth, two of them run away screaming because four dimensional space is weird, and Adelaide goes into her house and shoots herself in an effort to restore the time line. Now the Doctor's memories change into Adelaide's senseless suicide after escaping the exploding base.

Ood Sigma appears, the TARDIS cloister bell rings, and the Doctor is troubled by remembrance of Adric's voice and disappears into the final special.


The End of Time

Last time, on the Lucy show:

Lucy married the Master, who turned out to be a jerk. She shot him in an act of sudden but inevitable betrayal, and went to jail.

AND NOW, THE CONCLUSION.

The Doctor is wandering around in a cowboy hat, and also married Queen Elizabeth, helpfully forgetting 11 and Clara in the meantime. Ood Sigma gives him some more vague warnings involving the Master, because they've all been having nightmares about it. Also, "time is bleeding". The Doctor presumably knows exactly what this means: James Bond jokes.

Meanwhile, there is a cult dedicated to the Master. Why? We have no idea. They're probably the same people that think Diogenes is the best thing since sliced cheese.

Like the Master, he is also alive against all odds and logic. Rumors that the Master's TARDIS appeared at Stromboli are completely ludicrous.


So the Diogenistas cult of the Master decide to resurrect him, using that ring...for some reason. Look, it makes little sense, but just go with it. Lucy is released from jail so she can sabotage the ceremony, but too late. The Master is back...just wrong. He's incredibly hungry, just like I am as I write this. Unlike me, he is super fast and strong as well.

Wilf, also suffering from nightmares, decides to go on a "seniors gone wild" bus tour to look for the Doctor. Yes, my friends, Octogenarian Whovians, the original fans.

Elsewhere, the Master discusses American politics and eats all of the food. Then he knocks four times, to get the Doctor's attention, but before the Doctor can do anything, Wilf and the Octogenarian Whovians arrive, one of whom attempts to molest our hero.


Later, we discover the Master can also shoot lightning, because everyone loves Star Wars. He also reveals that the drumming in his head is real, just like it is in ours. Then the Master is kidnapped by a helicopter. Okay...?

To make things even more confusing, Donna gives Wilf a book by one of the people that kidnapped the Master, without realizing it.

So, Naismith has a healing machine from Torchwood. Some freaked out aliens disguised as scientists flee when they see the Master. The Master really loves turkey, a whole lot. Naismith may or may not have an inappropriate relationship with his daughter. He wants the Master to repair this "immortality gate".

Unfortunately for us all, the Gate heals people planetwide, based on a medical template. This kind of thing worked out well when everyone walked around with gas mask faces! Needless to say the Master gets a great idea, and also a terrible pun.

Wilf is saved by being locked in an isolation chamber, and Donna is saved by dint of not really being totally human now. Everyone else looks like the Master, which means we get to see the guy in a dress. It is glorious and wonderful.

But, darling, pink isn't your color.

But what does this have to do with Timothy Dalton, narrator? Well, after working for queen and country, he went off to be president of the Time Lords.

His name is Rassilon, James Rassilon.

While the Time Lords plot...things...our mysterious Cactus Aliens help Wilf rescue the Doctor, in much the same way the Doctor rescued himself once: tied up and wheeled away. Meanwhile, Donna has an explodey mechanism that kills the Master's puppets and then passes out.

Meanwhile, on Gallifrey, the Time Lords are in the last day of the Time War, and they know the Doctor is going to do a genocidey thing. Luckily, their token prophet predicts a fight between the Doctor and the Master. How do they stop this? Shove the drums into a wee Master's head when he looks into the Time Vortex. Which explains his general craziness.

While the Master and the Not!Masters concentrate on the drums, the Time Lords toss a drum-causing diamond through time. Somehow. Look, don't question Timothy Dalton! Anyways, the Master taunts the Doctor about this on a broadcast, and since the diamond is one found only on Gallifrey, the Doctor freaks out. He freaks out so very badly he takes Wilf's revolver and runs to shoot James Bond. Silly Doctor, don't you know you can't shoot James Bond?

Ba-da-da-DA-da-da-da da-daaaa-da-da! Bada-dadadada Bada-dadadada Bada dadadada Bada dadadada

Meanwhile, most of the Time Lord Council are all ready to go to Earth and make it, like, new Gallifrey, sort of like how the Decepticons wanted to make it new Cybertron. Unfortunately, it looks like the Time Lords' plan is marginally better than Megatron's. Only two say it's a bad idea. And go anyways, because if Doctor Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy.

The Master is crazy, and Rassilon is so bored he turns everyone on Earth back to their usual selves. Time Lords aren't usually known for their sense of humor. While Gallifrey looms over Earth, the Autobots try to fix the tides and Wilf takes over the immortality gate control booth. The Doctor talks about a lot of horrible things running around on Gallifrey, which has spawned a thousand fanfics, and the Master laughs a whole lot. Doctor Mama points out that the Magic Wizard Diamond is still there, so the Doctor shoots it. Rassilon makes vague threats, the Master goes Palpatine on him and they all disappear back into the time lock, where the Master will undergo a sex change, and obtain an obscene amount of eye shadow.

The Doctor is relieved to be alive. And then he hears four knocks.

Wilf is still in the control booth, which will be flooded with radiation when the door opens.

Sadness ensues as the Doctor lets Wilf out and locks himself in. When he gets out, he seems okay...except his cuts are healing, meaning he's starting to regenerate.

Thus begins the slowest regeneration ever, as the Doctor visits companions and friends from the past, showing to us that Martha and Mickey are married and freelancing alien fighting, Sarah Jane's adopted son Luke doesn't look both ways when he crosses the road, Jack is still flirting with pretty boys, Joan Redfern's great-granddaughter is selling his old diary, and Donna is finally getting married, to someone who isn't evil.

Then the Doctor says he doesn't want to go, and it's really sad, and the music is sad, and the screen is suddenly very blurry.

These aren't tears in my eyes, they're just...martian virus water. That's it.

Matt Smith then gets confused and believes hair=girl, complains that he isn't ginger (somehow making people bully gingers, look, I don't know Britain's thing about red hair, it probably has to do with angry Scotsmen, or something), and also he accidentally set the TARDIS on fire while regenerating.

Matt Smith has been accurately described as a cat who falls off a table then twists around and pretends he totally meant to fall off like that.

Right.

So now, we say farewell to the Tenth Doctor in the loopiest finale yet, I laughed, I cried, I confused Rassilon with the Valeyard. It moved me.

Let's see how much loopier the Doctor can get.

Friday, January 22, 2016

NuWho Reviews: Midnight, Turn Left, The Stolen Earth, and Journey's End

Midnight

NOPE. NOPE NOPE NOPE. NOPE. NOPE NOPE NOPITY NOPE NOPE.

NOPE.

Davies picks up where Moffat left off in scaring the ever-loving crap out of the audience.

The Doctor and Donna arrive on Planet Midnight for some R&R. While Donna decides to visit a spa, the Doctor visits the sapphire waterfall. He gets on the shuttle with a few other quirky passengers.

The Doctor disables the TVs (just missing a distraught Rose on one) and decides to get to know the passengers. You have: the Conventional Family with Rebellious Son! The Slightly Drunken Lonely Lady! The Professor and his Beleaguered Assistant! And the Hostess, who Doesn't Even Have A Name In The Credits.

The shuttle suddenly stops. The Doctor psychic papers his way into the cockpit, where the mechanic claims to have seen something running across the landscape (which doesn't support life at all).

You know what this means?


Before long, something is banging on the hull, and the cockpit is torn away. The banging ends right near Sky, who afterward seems catatonic. Until she starts repeating everything everyone says. Someone mentions possession, and Merlin makes her say 666, because teenagers. It doesn't take long for everyone to plot murder, while the Doctor tries to keep everyone sane. Unfortunately, they become suspicious of him, especially after Sky starts repeating only him, and also because he calls himself clever.

False modesty is just how society rolls.

It gets worse as Sky starts sentences before the Doctor, who starts repeating them. Sky begins goading the other passengers, whose tensions start cracking as Professor Hobbes insults his assistant and Jethro fights his parents about their decision to toss the Doctor out the airlock.

Meanwhile, the Doctor can't do anything at all, and is sitting there, paralyzed and crying, which makes it about a thousand times worse to watch.

LOOK AT HIS FACE. LOOK AT IT.

The hostess and Professor Hobbes' assistant DeeDee suspect that Sky is still possessed as she starts using the Doctor's previous phrases. The hostess takes matters into her own hand and drags Sky out an airlock with her, killing them both.

Afterward, while waiting for rescue, no one speaks. Everyone looks utterly horrified at what they became during that time. Everyone's dark side is showcased for everyone to see: the Doctor's egotism, the professor's coldness to DeeDee, and the Kanes' dismissal of their son. Even worse, no one can remember the name of the hostess who just sacrificed herself for them.

And worst of all? THAT THING IS STILL OUT THERE.




Turn Left

The Doctor and Donna are exploring a marketplace when Donna runs into an uncomfortable racial stereotype in the form of a Not!Chinese Fortune Teller who may or may not be a regenerated Chantho. The fortune teller asks Donna about a turning point in her life, which was the decision to take a temp job, which led her to meeting up with the Doctor for the first time. The fortune teller encourages Donna to "mentally" turn right instead. Unfortunately, this makes Donna turn right IRL.

Donna gets a different job. People tell her about having something on her back a lot, which is one of those things Dale did to me to freak me out one day. She doesn't meet the Doctor, and the result is that he is killed the night he fights the Spider Babies, because Donna isn't there to remind him that Doomsday is over, and they can overcome that trauma together.

You can heal, Doctor. Just like the fandom didn't.

The Doctor's death has a domino effect: Sarah Jane and Martha were the ones who tried to fight the Plasmavore, and they died on the moon. The Titanic crashes, destroying a good chunk of England and practically turning it into a Third World country (with Rose appearing to warn Donna away in time). The Adipose plan comes off as Miss Foster planned in America, and millions more are killed. Jack Harkness and the rest of Torchwood die fighting the Sontarans.

During the crisis, Donna's family is forced to live in cramped quarters with another family. Just as she finally becomes attached to them and starts seeing some light in the situation, the family is carted away. Wilfred points out that the same thing happened during World War II as well, successfully Godwinning all of England.

Wilf would then go on to audition for the role of "Guy who Godwins Loki in The Avengers". He was rejected, but that was because they thought his Christmas hat was a little too on the nose.

Rose appears, and asks Donna to come with her, but warns her it will result in her death. Donna, frightened, refuses. Rose promises to return in three weeks.

Three weeks later, Donna and Wilf are looking through a telescope, and see that the stars are disappearing. Donna finally leaves with Rose.

See, the walls of reality are collapsing, and only the Doctor can stop it. So Donna must go back in time, using the last of a dying TARDIS' energy, to make the right choice. Also she has a giant beetle on her back.

Sarah Jane did it, now everyone else has to do it too.

When Donna arrives on the fateful day, she is too far away to speak to herself. So she throws herself in front of a truck, causing a traffic jam that influences her past self to turn left.

Then Donna wakes up in the fortune teller's shop, and mutters about Donna becoming something. (Presumably not Batmantis.) The Doctor is puzzled too. The Trickster (some villain from the Sarah Jane Adventures, which I have yet to watch) works by influencing people's lives, but instead the universe shaped itself around Donna instead. Then the Doctor learns that it was "Bad Wolf" who helped Donna, and hears the cloister bell ringing as they reach the TARDIS. This can only mean a season finale!

This just goes to showcase more of Donna. She has so much potential, but staying stuck with her family, particularly her severe, mildly abusive mother, would slowly drain her. Yet even after that, she still had such a sense of compassion that she was able to sacrifice herself for literally everyone else.

Also Wilf's Christmas hat.




The Stolen Earth

Last time, on Doctor Who, Donna was awesome and the TARDIS cloister bell was ringing, though there wasn't any annoying children to shout "BUT DOCTOR THE CLOISTER BELL" over and over.

Our heroes arrive on Earth, just as it too disappears. They decide to visit The Shadow Proclamation (finally!), where they discover that twenty seven other planets have gone missing (including those mentioned in the past episodes). Those planets would organize into a pattern when placed near each other. After Donna mentions the disappearance of bees on Earth, the Doctor figures out that the planets have been taken to the Medusa Cascade, an inter-universal rift. This is the causing the walls of the universe to collapse. Also, the Shadow Proclamation is very sorry for what is going to happen to Donna.

as we all are

Meanwhile, on Earth, everyone is freaked out by the fact that the Earth has, in fact, moved. Luckily, Rose has arrived, complete with Really Big Lightning Gun.


Richard Dawkins talks about the view of the very close planets in the sky, and also brags about stealing the Fourth Doctor's wife.

As everyone tries to figure out what those spaceships are, a single word is transmitted to them: EXTERMINATE.

Yep, those wacky Daleks are back again, and so is Davros, who somehow survived the Rice Pudding Quip. Along with him is Dalek Caan, who is a bit crazy and prophetic, and shall henceforth be known as "Giggles". When the Daleks start marching (rolling? hovering?) through the streets, Wilf tells Sylvia to stay in the house, because aliens always come after the women first.

Martha does mysterious things for UNIT, Jack can't get hold of anyone, and Wilf tries to defeat the Daleks with paintballs.

For the record, the Dalek's vision is not impaired.

Luckily, Harriet Jones, Former Prime Minister, has managed to find a way to get the Doctor in contact with everyone (except Rose). Donna flirts with Jack, Jack flirts with Sarah Jane, and it's a rather happy little reunion!

This is the story/about a man called Doctor...

Until the Daleks kill Harriet Jones, Formerly Alive Former Prime Minister. And then Davros joins Facebook and friends everyone, and it's just awkward. Plus, Daleks start cornering all our heroes! Luckily, the Doctor is ready with a quick quip, and Davros is ready for the Doctor to inevitably arrive on Earth.

Meanwhile, Jack uses his vortex manipulator, Martha goes to activate the Osterhagen Key, which is not the same thing as a Copenhagen Corridor, and Rose chases down the TARDIS.

We have a lovely run for one another! In slow-mo!

Unfortunately Bob the Hero Dalek (who would go on to become best friends with TR8R from the new Star Wars) is the first Dalek to actually manage to properly shoot the Doctor. The first of the two-parter closes as the Doctor begins regenerating...




Journey's End

Torchwood manages to survive the Daleks via technology, Mickey and Jackie arrive from the alternate universe, also with large lightning guns, to save Sarah Jane. Meanwhile, the Doctor...redirects his regeneration energy into his old hand and continues to be David Tennant. He was just too pretty to die

Rose is rather relieved that the Doctor didn't, like, turn into someone old, or something. But it doesn't matter, because the Daleks transport the TARDIS and the rest of our heroes to the Crucible, Davros' ship.

Meanwhile, Martha goes to Germany, where Daleks speak very bad German, and everyone getting freaked out at the mention of the Osterhagen key.

While our heroes step out of the TARDIS, Donna swears she hears a heartbeat, and gets locked inside. The TARDIS is flushed into the core of the ship, because the Supreme Dalek is a jerk, and Donna touches the hand in a jar, because there's seriously something weird about a hand in a jar. The jar bursts and...a new Doctor grows from the hand, with extra Donna sass!


Handy dematerializes the TARDIS just in time.

Meanwhile, Jack plays possum while the Doctor and Rose get to listen to Davros' monologue. And oh, what a monologue! He rants! He raves! He rehashes his old speech from Genesis! He chews up all the scenery, and leaves none that even Brian Blessed could eat! Giggles makes some vague prophecies and, of course, giggles. Y'see, Davros has built a reality bomb, which would, you know, destroy all reality except for the Daleks. However, Martha calls and threatens to use the Osterhagen key, a device that will destroy Earth. Sarah Jane threatens to destroy the Crucible with a Warpstar. Davros taunts the Doctor about turning his friends into weapons and how bad that is, helpfully forgetting that he's trying to, you know, destroy reality and everyone with it, leaving our heroes with little in the way of a choice.

Unfortunately, everyone is just teleported, which is kind of like cheating. But just as Davros is prepared to set us up the bomb, Handy and Donna arrive! Davros, not one to go out without a Star Wars reference, shoots them with lightning.

And sass.

Thus triggering the Time Lord DNA that had been transferred into Donna when she touched the hand. She quickly explains the mechanics of it all while everyone stares, since Donna...wasn't the brightest crayon in the box, technically speaking. She is now DoctorDonna. The Ood giggle in their palms.

Giggles does so too. Turns out, all his prophecies had been about Davros getting his butt kicked. Dalek Caan was driven so crazy he became sane. At least, sane compared to the fandom.

Handy likes the prophecy so much that he triggers an explosion in the Crucible that will TOTALLY KILL DAVROS AND THE DALEKS AND THEY WON'T EVER COME BACK EVER.

The Doctor is unhappy, because genocide, and he shouts at Handy and tells Sylvia not to touch the controls.

Our heroes part, with Mickey deciding to stay in his original universe and hang out with Martha and Jack, and the Doctor taking Rose and Jackie back to the parallel universe, where he discovers that Jackie will not be naming their son after him. He tells Handy to stay there and pretends he can't tell Rose how he feels, leaving the two to make out for copious amounts of time.

This is the best illustration I've seen.

OH, DON'T WORRY, THERE ARE MORE FEELS TO COME.

Donna behaves erratically, and finally says she is hurting. The Time Lord knowledge is overwhelming her. The Doctor does the only thing he can to do save her. He completely wipes her mind of all her experiences with him.


LOOK AT HER FACE. LOOK AT IT.

He returns her home, lecturing Sylvia thoroughly about her dismissal of Donna, and leaving her in the care of her family, while she reverts back to her old, crass self. The thing is, there's hope. Donna was always compassionate deep down. Her behavior was a reaction to being treated as though she meant nothing. With her mother presumably trying to be better, she will manage to improve.

Then we get left with the last shot of the Doctor in the rain, which is used on message boards everywhere to express regret and sadness at things like world tragedies and the discontinuation of favorite snack foods.

For the record, I am deeply disappointed Dalek Caan has never returned, because who doesn't want a giggling prophetic Dalek around, amirite?


Thursday, January 21, 2016

NuWho Reviews: The Doctor's Daughter, The Unicorn and the Wasp, Silence in the Library, Forest of the Dead

The Doctor's Daughter


Okay, now that I have that out of my system, on to the review!

The TARDIS drops out heroes off on a planet where soldiers immediately force the Doctor to donate his DNA so they can make a cute, gun-happy blonde from it. The Doctor is displeased because guns are involved. And also that part about forced reproduction.

Donna names her Jenny, and wants to wrap her in a warm blanket, because seriously Georgia Moffett is as adorable as her real father. Martha, meanwhile, has been separated, and is helping the fish soldiers called the Hath. Both sides are fighting over the Source, which is called the breath of their Creator. They've been fighting for generations.

"I have this sudden craving for seafood..."

Cobb is displeased that the Doctor and Donna won't fight, and have convinced Jenny to do the same. He imprisons them all, but the guard is very, very lonely and the possibility of a kiss from Jenny is enough to make him go stupid.

As they try to make it to the Source before the two sides do, Donna notices dates written on different sections of the building, which gives them a time line of how this conflict got started.

It's been...oh, a few weeks. The two sides have been bred and killed off multiple generations in the space of a few weeks thanks to the progenation machine, which actually is horrifying.

Meanwhile, Martha has to watch her Hath friend die to keep her alive, and it's very sad because Hath are ugly cute in the same way the Ood are ugly cute.

They all meet at the Source, and the Doctor says they should just end the war because it's just a terraforming device, which will help basically everyone no matter what. This isn't enough for General Ripper, who tries to shoot him. Jenny takes a bullet for the Doctor, and it's very sad.

Martha has had more than enough of these shenanigans (which is ironic given what we find out later about her life). Donna wants MORE shenanigans, and decides to stay with the Doctor indefinitely, because it's better than living with Sylvia (which we can all agree with).

Also, spoiler, Jenny totally regenerates. We haven't seen her again, but she's been a bit busy.

\
Children to raise, 50th anniversary specials to direct, you know.



The Unicorn and the Wasp

Everyone loves Agatha Christie! The Doctor and Donna attend a party where everyone's favorite mystery author is in attendance.

Also, this is the day she will "mysteriously" disappear.

And, it wouldn't be an Agatha Christie reference without a murder mystery! When one of the guests is found dead, our heroes and author team up to discover the murderer!

Complete with incredulous and bewildered facial expressions.

Fortunately for Agatha, the Doctor has more experience with alien murders. Some substance left at the scene is morphic residue, indicating that the murderer is a shapeshifter. Now we have a bottle episode!


Meanwhile, Donna is attacked by a giant wasp. My nightmares usually involve giant spiders, but I'm not fond of the idea of a giant wasp either. The Doctor is then poisoned with cyanide, and we learn the very convoluted way Time Lord physiology handles poisoning. It involves tea, because this is England, dammit.

After Lady Eddison's son is stabbed to death, and her necklace is stolen. The necklace that was given to her by a Vespiform, a giant shapeshifting wasp. Who impregnated her.


Now that you've purged yourself into a trash can and presumably brushed your teeth, we discover that the reverend is in fact the child of that union, who discovered his shapeshifting abilities, and also decided that killing people like in Agatha Christie's books was a great idea.

Agatha lures him away with the necklace, and the wasp's death gives her amnesia. The Doctor uses the TARDIS to transport her ten days into the future, because the alternate solution is to realize that Agatha abandoned her child and hung out at a spa because her husband was going to leave her, and that just isn't good television.


Silence in the Library

WHAT'S THAT WE HAVEN'T HAD ANY NIGHTMARE FUEL IN A WHILE WELL WE BETTER GET RIGHT ON THAT.

A young girl is visited by a psychiatrist, the aptly named Doctor Moon. She can see this library in her incredibly vivid imagination. So vivid, she sees the Doctor and Donna burst in.

In fact, the pair have arrived at a 51st century library after a call on the psychic paper. The library is inexplicably abandoned, at least of humans. There are billions of non-human life forms that no one can see. An information node tells them to count their shadows, and name them one by one.

That one's Bob, and there's Janie Sue, and then we have Charlie...

An information node also informs them that other people are arriving, archaeologists led by the descendant of the library's builder, along with the Daves, the ditzy Miss Evangelista

AND THE MOST GLORIOUS HAIR IN THE HISTORY OF EVER.


I might have a slight problem.

The archaeologists want to know why the library sealed itself in 100 years before. But, in a more puzzling twist, River appears to know the Doctor, who has never met her before. She even has a diary decorated like a TARDIS! River sent the psychic paper message, and she says this is the youngest she has ever seen the Doctor. AND THUS THE MOST CONFUSING OF ARCS BEGAN. River, of course, refuses to explain herself at all.


Then we finally get some sort of sense out of all this. The library's operating system is somehow connected to the little girl's mind, and she sees what's happening on her TV. She may or may not be a Whovian stand-in, but let's not get too meta here. Doctor Moon tells her that the library is real, and that the world around her is a lie.

But Erica, you say, what about the Shadows?

No, not those Shadows. These shadows are the Vashta Nerada, living shadows that devour meat like a bunch of tiny, horrible piranha who love to give you more nightmares.

While River reveals she has the future version of the Doctor's sonic screwdriver and presumably knows his true name, Donna is the only person to be nice to Miss Evangelista.

Also, whatever happens to Donna, River is very very sad about it.

we are all very sad about it

The Vashta Nerada kill Evangelista, but her neural pathways are linked to her protective suit and keep echoing her last words. BECAUSE WE ALL NEEDED MORE TERROR AMIRITE

Then Proper Dave has two shadows, and he dies, and the Vashta Nerada chase them in the protective suit as the lights go out one by one.

Nope.

The Doctor tries to use the library's teleporter to send Donna to the TARDIS, but instead of making it, her face appears on an information node, declaring that "Donna Noble has been saved".


Forest of the Dead

You remember the creepy little girl from the last episode? Well, she's still watching things along with us. Our intrepid heroes narrowly escape Proper Dave and the other possessed archaeologists. We soon discover what's happening: Lux's grandfather made the library for Lux's aunt, Charlotte Abigail Lux, who had an incurable disease and loved reading. The giant computer at the core houses "CAL"'s mind. The little girl tried to save everyone when the Vashta Nerada took over by uploading them to the computer core, just as she had done with Donna. But she's struggling to keep everything together, and not even the virus checker Doctor Moon is able to maintain control.

Speaking of, Donna is being treated by Doctor Moon in his mental facility. Wait, what? Yeah, all that, that was just in Donna's mind. Cross my heart, hope to die. Luckily, Donna's becoming more in tune with the real world, and Doctor Moon even finds her perfect man: gorgeous, adores her, and hardly ever speaks a word. But time is moving strangely for her, and next thing you know, she's got two incredibly creepy kids, and Miss Evangelista is there, glitching out and telling her that everything around her is fake. Unfortunately, this causes her not!children to disappear, and it's kind of horrifying.

It also produces a rather large amount of eye water...

Meanwhile, the Doctor is attempting to talk with the Vashta Nerada. They live in trees, which were used to make the books, and are now living in the books and devouring people, because there's not much else to eat in libraries. Worse, they decide the library is their library.

LIBRARIES ARE FOR EVERYONE, VASHTA NERADA. LIBRARIES ARE FOR EVERYONE


The Doctor comes to an agreement with them: give him a day to free everyone from the computer core. Unfortunately, this requires a Heroic Sacrifice, something the Doctor loves. He prepares to hook himself up to the computer terminal, but next thing you know, he wakes up handcuffed to a pillar, because that's how River rolls.

THIS IS WHERE THE TEARS BEGIN, PEOPLE.

River is already hooked up and ready to go. She reveals that while this is the first time he's seen, her, this is the last time she's seen him, meaning their entire relationship will be based on River's eventual death. She manages to fit in one last double entendre and one last "spoilers" before her death.

It's why her hair is so big. It's full of spoilers.

Everyone rematerializes in the library, where they are evacuated. Donna concludes that Lee was another figment made up by the computer, but she doesn't see him unsuccessfully trying to overcome his stutter before he himself is transported, Lo, even more tears.

The Doctor wonders why on Earth he would give River his sonic screwdriver, then finds a data recorder inside, meaning he can upload her to the computer. We leave River living in the computer simulation with her team members and the creepy not!children, while the Doctor realizes River is right: he can close the TARDIS by snapping his fingers!

And you guys, I don't care how much people hated River or her story, it is the greatest thing ever and I WILL GO FISTICUFFS WITH YOU ALL.


But seriously, I am amazed at how early Moffat was setting the stage for this story arc and how tightly it's plotted. Say what you will, I would have confused myself very quickly if I had tried the same thing. (Which is why I will never write anything with time travel.)