Archive for the ‘Season 5’ Category

Amy’s Choice   Leave a comment

This one is a problematic episode with a few neat bits.

First of all, the vehicle is lame. Even though the pollen explanation at the end sort of works, I’m not a fan of dreams and the Dream Lord as a gimmick. That might just be personal taste. I called this one the ‘Q’ episode the first time around, in reference to another show’s highly annoying recurring guest.

There seem to be three main ideas the writer is striving for. One, who does Amy really love? This is grade school material at best, not worth an episode of Doctor Who. The question was addressed in a somewhat more adult manner in ‘Boom Town’ – incidently, another episode focused on what the Doctor really is and the effect he has on people. Two, the old preying on the young. Making harmless old people monsters is an idea, I suppose; it’s also a treatment of the Doctor preying on his companions. It left a bad taste in my mouth. Three, growing up. A little Peter Pan; home and family in the village is dull, except to Rory, who is dull to everyone else. It’s a valid theme I suppose, but not very well handled.

Several other things bother me in this episode. The Dream Lord uses guilt as a weapon. The Doctor seems prone to guilt even though a being of his age should be prepared to deal with his own regrets, and little of the blame the Dream Lord (and, incidentally, Davros) lays at his feet is genuinely his. Amy lies to Rory, letting him believe that she shares his dream. I get Amy is supposed to be immature at this point, but it’s still annoying. Finally, there are two suicide scenes. Self-sacrifice, I get, but driving a bus into a house and blowing up a spaceship strike me a bit hard. Uncomfortable material for a family show.

I do enjoy Amy experiencing for the first time her love for Rory. Karen Gillan’s acting is as always flawless.

We come back to the idea of a companion having a life outside the TARDIS, as I commented on with regard to Clara. Here, though, the two companions each have a preference and the divided life is a compromise. I do think they need to make up their minds about what they want as a couple, together, rather than each insisting that the other do things their way. They may be poorly matched in spite of their feelings: the adventurer and the homebody can hardly be happy each with only half the life they truly want.


Posted October 13, 2014 by Elisabeth in Season 5, The Great Re-Watch

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Vampires of Venice   Leave a comment

This episode, in contrast to its predecessor, is great Doctor Who. It’s fun, it’s dramatic, it’s scary, it’s sad; any quibbles are easily waved off. The chemistry among Rory, Amy, and the Doctor is delightful. Even the sexual jokes are funny.

Some people complain when the monsters aren’t really monsters. I like it. Most bad things in life are not evil; they’re just something or someone else trying to live the best they can. Signora Calvierri is trying to save her race. Her children. Her actions are entirely understandable.

I thought I remembered the Doctor offering to save her family, to take them somewhere. He didn’t. It’s a bit of a missing for me. But perhaps by then it was too late. Too many dead girls. He did try to prevent her rather horrific suicide at the end. But if he had, what would he have done? Maybe then he would have taken her and her sons away. The race would still have died, in time, but at least the family would live out their lives.

(I think this is one reason I like the end of ‘Time Heist’ so much. He gets to save the aliens and take them somewhere they can live happily ever after. So many times he tries to do just that and fails. Or if he succeeds, it’s on the back end of a turkey like ‘Hide’ and no one remembers.)

There’s both an echo and a pre-echo – if that’s a thing – in this episode. The loss of the Saturnyne home world echoes a common thread of the RTD era: planets stolen out of time and space for Davros’ reality bomb. It could have worked as a part of that, ‘cuz timey wimey, but clearly Moffat did not want to ride Davies’ coattails. Perfectly understandable, but it ends up sounding a bit repetitive. This time they’re running from the crack in time. People also keep mentioning the Silence, which is the Series 6 thing. I think there is such a thing as too much foreshadowing.

But like I said, easily waved off. So far this is the best of S5 after the premiere. If only it could go on this way.

Posted September 24, 2014 by Elisabeth in Season 5, The Great Re-Watch

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Flesh and Stone   1 comment

I have problems with this episode.

The angels, established in ‘Blink’ as quantum-locked and having very specific abilities, are given whatever magical powers will serve the scene and make things scary or tense or whatever the writers are going for. They can climb out of a TV, ok. They can live in your brain, ok. They can climb OUT of your brain. They see you looking and they assume you can see – as if the whole quantum lock thing were voluntary. I can see what they’re doing, trying to build tension and make things interesting, but the actual effect is the opposite. Magical creatures that can do anything are not interesting, they’re boring. Things that work one way and then suddenly work another are annoying. I’m not happy with the angels in this episode.

Ditto River Song, as I said before. WHYYYYY does she have to be a criminal? And can she really be punished/shamed for something she was brainwashed to do and had absolutely no voluntary say in? And did ANYONE in the world not get that who she killed was the Doctor? Now Alex Kingston is a genius and she can sell anything; it’s incredibly difficult not to buy every word out of her mouth. But it’s all garbage. River isn’t River, she’s some weird thing made to build dramatic backstory. Ick.

Amy coming on the Doctor is wrong in every way. I’m sure some people think it’s cute. I don’t get it. One, he says no, just as Ten does with Martha, and she ignores him. I guess it’s funny to have a woman come on to a guy so strong he can’t make her back off. No, it’s not funny, it’s appalling. I’m fine with women having sex drives and being kinky; I just think it’s really inappropriate here. Is it because it’s the night before her wedding, or because he’s saying no, or because it’s so out of the blue? I don’t know. I just know I despise it.

On the other hand…

I didn’t get this on the first pass, and it’s kind of brilliant: Moffat’s whole ‘big bang’ thing is an attempt to explain away Davies’ excess. There’s no way people wouldn’t remember Daleks, planets in the sky, the Master race, a giant Cyberman over Victorian London (a giant dinosaur over Victorian London) – and yet people don’t. I appreciate the attempt to explain that. Once again, if I didn’t already know it was lame I’d be looking forward to seeing how it all turned out.

The acting, as I mentioned with River, is stellar. I love watching Matt Smith’s Doctor figure things out. He’s brilliant in every way. Karen Gillan completely sold Amy’s fear in the forest, in spite of the fact the all the reasons and motivations for that fear were crap. Her countdown is terrifying. Props to Karen. I understand that people think the writing in these episodes is great. I don’t get it. The actors do amazing things with a script that makes no sense. I can’t give credit to the writers.

It’s disappointing when a story is bad. But somehow, it’s still Doctor Who. It still has charm, adventure and excitement. I still love it. And though this one disappoints, there are many others that make up for it.

ETA 11/17: Having finished S5 and half of S6, I now realize why I missed the thing about fixing the RTD era. It’s because it’s so glossed over. Other than this one early mention of Amy’s missing memory, there is no suggestion that those events were forgotten or never experienced. The erasing and re-booting of the past doesn’t make sense; it just happens, and you sort of accept it and move on. A disappointing example of Moffat’s failure to deliver.

Posted September 24, 2014 by Elisabeth in Season 5, The Great Re-Watch

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Victory of the Daleks, Time of Angels   Leave a comment

What is it that is less than fulfilling about these episodes?

I think most of it has to do with changing established characters. The Daleks, River Song, and the Weeping Angels are portrayed differently than before. Now, the Daleks are often portrayed differently; it’s a fact of life for them. And for folks who started with Eleven, none of this is relevant. They didn’t fall in love with River in the library, nor did they hear the Tenth Doctor’s description of the Angels to compare with the Eleventh’s. So, non-issue for many watchers.

Victory of the Daleks has a larger problem. I can accept (easily) Daleks falling through time, lost and damaged, after ‘Journey’s End.’ I can accept their finding a Progenitor. With some effort I can accept them needing the Doctor’s testimony. The Daleks have been utterly destroyed so many times in new Who: obliterated in the Time War, except for one (‘Dalek’); rebuilt from human DNA by the Emperor and then obliterated by Rose (‘Parting of the Ways’), except for those stuck in the Void (‘Doomsday’) which were then freed and almost immediately un-freed; except for the Cult of Skaro, which initiated an emergency temporal shift, and ended up in 1930’s New York (‘Daleks in Manhattan’). Again one escapes by emergency temporal shift, rescues Davros and loses its mind; Davros’ new Daleks are again obliterated (‘Journey’s End’) except apparently these four. So, in continuity (such as it is), these Daleks have been rebuilt so many times that the Progenitor no longer recognizes them.

Okay. I can buy that.

To stop the Daleks, the Doctor turns to the Dalek-built scientist Bracewell. He has imagined some sort of gravity thing that would make it possible for vessels to leave Earth’s atmosphere. Somehow this idea goes from paper to execution in less time than it takes for German bombers to travel from the Channel to London and bomb the city.

That, I can’t buy. It’s too much even for Doctor Who.

I also can’t buy KitchenAid Daleks. Why would the Progenitor, vessel of original Dalek DNA, dress them up in different brilliant colors, never before seen in the continuity of the show? Yes they are exciting and pretty, but if these are supposed to be original Daleks, they should really be original Daleks.

Plus they just look stupid.

Overall it’s an okay episode. I don’t hate it. I like the interaction among the Doctor, Churchill, Amy, and Bracewell. I do find helpful Daleks incredibly creepy and wrong. (And hilarious: ‘WOULD YOU CARE FOR SOME TEA???’) I’m interested in Amy’s missing memory, though from my recollection it isn’t handled well in the end. I’m not sure how convincing Bracewell he’s human switches off the bomb, but I can accept it because it’s a lovely scene.

Onward to Angels. As a first look at River or the Weeping Angels, it works. River is badass and the Angels are terrifying. The episode overall – especially given that it’s only part 1 of 2 – is good. It’s edge-of-your-seat creepy – maybe not as much as Blink but certainly not bad. The problem is if this isn’t your first look at River or the Angels. What happened to the brilliant, competent, down-to-earth archaeologist? There is little of her in this new woman, little of the chemistry Kingston had with Tennant, little I recognize at all as the same character. I wanted more of River from the Library, and what I got was something else. Also, what happened to Angels who ‘kill you nicely?’ How are they suddenly so all-powerful and evil? Again, it’s fine if they’re new to you, but if you have expectations of ‘Blink’ you might be disappointed.

In addition, once again Amy seems to know the Doctor better than she should after 3 adventures. I know many fans assume there were trips between the trips, but when she lists off things she’s seen she only mentions things we’ve seen. So her intimate knowledge and trust seems a bit much. I understand that might just be me, but all the same it bugs me. I miss Rose and her well-constructed storyline.

I do like that River’s position as the Doctor’s wife is made a bit more vague. We guess it in ‘Forest of the Dead;’ Amy guesses it here; River slightly denies it; and of course we know what happened in ‘The Wedding of River Song’ was not actually a wedding. I get that some fans love the idea of them as a couple, and there are parts of the story where that works, but I’m just as happy to gloss it over. Especially if she doesn’t come back in S8 or 9. I’m content for Twelve to forget Rose, and I’d be content for him to forget post-Library River as well.

Still. Good horror, good excitement; good job figuring out the two head thing – I still felt it was a bit obvious but throwing in the perception filter thing helps, esp. since I’m not sure I noticed the first time around. Overall a good story and I can see why Eleven/Moffat fans consider it among the best. Looking forward to part 2.

Posted September 22, 2014 by Elisabeth in Season 5, The Great Re-Watch

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Eleventh Hour   Leave a comment

I can’t type that without a twinge of regret that last year’s Christmas special wasn’t titled ‘Twelfth Night.’ Ah well.

I just watched this episode for only the second time. My first impression was not that great, as I recall. I didn’t remember especially liking the episode, in spite of having a great first impression of Matt Smith in the regeneration scene.

Well, I am here to tell you it holds up brilliantly.

First of all, it’s really, really funny. Amelia is perfect: her face, her accent, her youthful world-weariness. The food scene is hilarious. She takes everything in stride, and in the end enjoys an unconventional snack time with her new friend. A friend who is as alien as she is – a Scottish girl forced to live in England, home and parents lost. No wonder they get on so well.

Then, as the little girl with the suitcase runs past a door suddenly open – all at once it’s terrifying.

I watched this immediately after ‘The End of Time.’ I had never gotten to see the three as a set; although in-universe they happen all one right after the other, in broadcast they were months apart and the wait for the S5 DVD was at least as long. They make for an interesting contrast. I found myself wearying of Ten’s angst and melodrama. It was high time for a spot of fun, and Eleven’s first outing supplied it. It was time for a spot of horror, and Prisoner Zero supplied it. The episode was a breath of fresh air.

I would also like to comment further on Olivia Colman. Lots of guest stars appear on Doctor Who; lots of people show up once and are never seen again. Mostly I don’t remember their faces; if I see them again, they may or may not look familiar, and even if they do I usually can’t place them without looking up a filmography. But when promos for Broadchurch turned up, I recognized her at once. She had that big of an impact.

On re-watching, I can tell you she is terrifying. Expressionless and flat of voice, she is the vessel through which the monster and the Doctor speak. I had thought it impossible to love her even more, and yet I do. 🙂

Posted September 11, 2014 by Elisabeth in Season 5, The Great Re-Watch

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