Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Doctor Who Review - The Rings of Akhatan

An episode of a few neat little bits, but an overall sense of ho-hum, another character piece...
What was to like? As always, Matt Smith brings the weight of ages and childlike wonder to his portrayal of the Doc, usually all at the same time. Space moped thing was fun (although, with an anti-grav bike in the previous episode we have a danger of repetition – hopefully there won’t be more bike riding shenanigans coming up). Jenna-Louise Coleman as Clara continues to be almost impossibly pretty, but is yet to turn into the sassy, confident girl of her first two outings. But it is coming, she’s a good assistant, her heart is most definitely in the adventure.
It was good to see it was Clara’s regular, human experience bearing the enormous sense of wonder and possibility that defeated the...uh...thing at the end. While Matt Smith delivers his declaration of the Doctor’s awesomeness with great oomph, it is, again, something we are seeing a bit too much of. Yes Doc, we know you’ve been everywhere and done everything.
And this brings me to the “what’s not to like?”
Defeating the “thing” (we’ll get to that) by just talking to it. Is that it? Seriously, does the Doctor not need to reverse the polarity flow? Is there nothing technical that he can do? Does he not need to outwit the villain? At least last week, the Doctor did show how smart he is by blind-siding the villainess. Nothing so clever and subtle here.
Maybe we’ll let this go – I suppose this is an example of what makes Clara a good assistant, as it was she that provided the “real” experience to overwhelm the thing.
Ok, The thing – a big red, planet thing was the villain of the piece. For most of the episode they had us getting worked about a big mummified, scary monster that was waking up and trying to break out of its cage – which then turned out to be just a stepping stone. There was, as usual, some faceless goons stomping about for the sake of it, but otherwise, just a big churning, planet thing. Ho hum.
Fortunately, Clara was just so human and tragic and tearjerking and caring and everything (although the Tardis doesn’t like her..) – oh, was this just another sodding character piece?
This is the problem with these character driven story arcs – ultimately it’s all about what/ who Clara is, the individual stories just lose their impact beneath the weight of the BIG story – similar to that big crack in time/ space and what it had to do with Amy (and frankly, I still don’t know. Apparently the Silence is coming. Did it come? Are we still waiting?).
Bring on Episode 3 (or is it episode 8, or 9 if we count the Xmas Special...) – Ice Warriors, a big, fat nasty villain/ hardcore monster.

And on with out Fanfic flash fic:
Consequences of Time - Episode 2
Cold. Couldn’t the Tardis land somewhere nice? As a flurry of snow landed on his tongue, he could tell it wasn’t just water ice. A hint of something, but what?
A truck, with wheels taller than the Tardis, thundered out of the snow and squealed to a halt. Two big, armoured figures jumped down and grabbed the Doctor’s arms. “Get in,” screeched a voice.
He was hurled into the truck. The interior was crammed with scared people. The hatch was shut and the truck roared off.
“Anyone know where we’re going?” asked the Doctor.
A man wailed “To Frozen Death.”

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Doctor Who - The Bells of St John Review

Who returns - and as such, I'm going to try to record my review on this blog each week, with a stab at a wee bit of Fan fiction in the form of a Who story told in by Drabble episodes(100 words, exactly) each week. In theory, there's eight episodes of the series, so we should get 800 words of Who story.
On with the review: The Bells of St John
At long last, Series 7 continues. I was not a fan of splitting up Series 6 (to be honest, I was not a fan of Series 6 overall) – knowing the split was coming turned the first bunch of episodes into just a series of fill-ins, with little larger story arc hints, which would reach a big cliff-hanger at the end of them. If the second half had been more impressive then maybe the approach could be forgiven. Unfortunately, the rest of the series was largely forgettable. In fact, sitting here writing, there’s no stand-out episode that I can think of. I can think of plenty of stuff that annoyed me - another haunted house story, another story where people are snatched from the real world, another bunch of “monsters” that lurch around being scary with their one scary line repeated over and again and so on. The Cyberman story was very poor and the finale made even less sense than the previous series. And the ensuing Xmas special (The Doctor, the Wife and the Wardrobe) was the weakest yet.
And so we come to Series 7, part 2. Thankfully the first part of this series was way, way better. The incredible “Asylum of the Daleks” was the best Dalek story since...”Genesis of the Daleks” (THERE, I’ve said it!), and the best NuWho since “Time of the Angels” back in series 5. Amy and Rory, who so totally outstayed their welcome, are finally gone. The Xmas episode (“The Snowmen”) was possibly the best Xmas Special of them all. So here we are with new companion Clara (despite being killed, again, in the Xmas Special) keyed up for her “proper” debut. Everything is going fine.
Except, “The Bells of St John” is a somewhat seen-it-all-before adventure. People being snatched from reality; a repeated line ("I don’t know where I am.."); a cold-hearted woman in charge of shady organization behind it all; unexpressive robot/ monster goons lurching around, which also crossed-over into the spooky kid area. These are all Moffat-isms which have been around since “The Empty Child” – and it’s all getting a bit tired to me.
Clara, so flirty and smart and hot in Asylum and at Xmas, is nowhere near as exciting this time round. I’ll let this go, even in the space of this episode she was transformed from computer illiterate to genius so the version we caught up with in “Asylum” could be where she is headed. We could be in for quite a journey.
There were things to like – the Doc’s anti-grav bike riding up the side of the Shard; his cunning switch with the “spoonhead” that impersonated him, in fact Matt Smith in general keeps even the poorer episodes watchable.
It was great to see the Great Intelligence turning up again, and turning Celia Imrie (always great to watch) back into a child was genuinely chilling and showed what a ruthless villain he is.
I’ll call this episode solid, but not good. If Clara can return to the form she had in her previous two outings, then one hopes for better things to come. And please, can we give the mind-control, spooky line, boring monster stuff a rest now?

OK, Drabble time - we need to give this adventure a name.. so, in keeping with the fact that it is made up as we go along we'll call it:

Consequences of Time - Episode 1
The Tardis had landed. The Doctor tried to ignore it but the still time rotor and no sense of motion through the vortex reminded him that they were going nowhere.

It was hardly the first time that the Tardis had taken charge but he was determined to enjoy a decent bout of melancholia without saving someone, some people, some planet or some universe.

He huffed in a chair, threw a pebble into the swimming pool, played Angry Birds on the scanner.

Eventually, he gave up and stomped outside. “This had better be good, old girl” he said as he left.