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Doctor Who Series 10: Thin Ice Review

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With it being slightly frosty this week, yesterday’s episode was very appropriate for the weather. Regardless of weather, this episode still continues the trend of fantastic stories from Series 10. I’m serious, if these early episodes are supposed to be the “weaker” ones, then I just can’t wait for the upcoming ones.

One of the best things about this episode is how it’s completely different from last week. We’ve gone from a sci-fi mystery with robots and lasers to a Regency-era costume drama with a big fish/snake thing. It’s this kind of juxtaposition that I love from Doctor Who, and this is probably the biggest contrast for consecutive episodes since Rings of Akhaten/Cold War.

The character work was superb this week, as both regulars got huge amounts of development. Sarah Dollard really knows how to write the Twelfth Doctor and he gets one of his best outings in a while, with his characteristic snarking, humour and cynicism mixed with humanity and warmth. The highlights are when he punched Sutcliffe for his treatment of Bill (I’ve seen people complain about this, but trust me, the Doctor is NOT a pacifist. Just watch any Jon Pertwee or Colin Baker story) and his speech about human progress.

Human progress isn’t measured by industry. It’s measured by the value you place on a life. An unimportant life. A life without privilege. The boy who died on the river, that boy’s value is your value. That’s what defines an age, that’s… what defines a species.

There’s also the continued development of Bill, and this episode once again shows what Moffat and co should have done with Clara in Series 7- show that travelling with the Doctor was not always fun. In this story, she sees a child die (pretty dark considering Doctor Who is a family show) and is understandably upset about it. There were hints of this in Cold War when Skaldak was killing the redshirts, but Clara never had a moment to reflect on what she saw. By having Bill realise the darker side of the Doctor and respond in a realistic way, it makes her more human and relatable. There are plenty of fantastic scenes between them and all three episodes so far have essentially been just her and the Doctor learning about each other. I feel like beginning from Knock Knock, the stories will get larger and more plot based.

I really liked the villain, Lord Sutcliffe, and he was basically exactly what I wanted after two weeks with no villains. I said I liked him when it’s really more “love to hate”, as in he’s so evil and careless that I just couldn’t help but like him and hate him at the same time. He’s essentially a villain from the Jon Pertwee era and as a massive fan of that era, I appreciated the return the stingy, metaphorically moustache twirling, condescending, obnoxious figure of high power that just irritates the Doctor and the audience. He’s so evil that his death is immensely satisfying. It’s been a while since we’ve had a decent human villain on Doctor Who, and Sutcliffe is probably the best since Solomon from Dinosaurs on a Spaceship. I’d have liked to see more of him though and have his plan expanded.

I’d love to see this guy spar with Edmund Blackadder, considering he was also in Regency London. I’d call the episode Fish and Finality. I reckon Sutcliffe would not be able to stand a chance against Blackadder.

There’s so much more to love about this story. One of the best aspects was how it handled the racism of 1814 and taught the children watching that it is never appropriate to be racist, regardless of what time period someone’s from (just because nearly everyone in 1814 was racist doesn’t excuse it). Whilst I love the Shakespeare Code, it didn’t really deal with the obvious issues that Martha would be dealing with in the 16th century. Thin Ice deals with the issue of Bill facing racism in the past a lot better, even if it was just by the Doctor knocking Sutcliffe unconscious in anger. Part of Doctor Who’s original goal was to educate the kids, and this was a good way to do it. Throwing in a real historical event and giving it a Doctor Who twist also makes the historical aspect of the show stand out more than just stories which happen to be in the past (what did the Vikings and Stuart settings add to the Ashildr stories last season?)

Another interesting element was the lack of aliens (again). It’s never really confirmed whether the sea serpent is from Earth or not and I like it that way. Whilst it is yet another misunderstood creature, the presence of Sutcliffe means there was an actual villain, although I really want the monsters this week to be the “we will kill you all” kind. Comparisons to The Beast Below are obvious as well as the Torchwood episode Meat (I’ve only recently gotten into Torchwood and I’ve been watching the good ones with my dad). There were also elements of Kill the Moon (companion makes a choice that revolves around a moral dilemma) but it’s handled better here because there weren’t any one sided dilemmas and no giant flying moon babies.

Ice to meet you (I know, I know, puns are terrible. Eye won’t make any more)

Overall, we have yet another strong episode. I feel like I’m in the minority when I say Smile is my favourite of this opening trilogy (its sci-fi aspects, clever twists and great dialogue sell it for me) but Thin Ice comes a very close second. As one of my most anticipated episodes pre broadcast it didn’t disappoint. There wasn’t much about the story arc, but we got a hint towards what’s in the vault (my Master theory is getting stronger) and it appears that Nardole will become a regular from next week.

Speaking of next week, we have a mysterious landlord, a haunted house, tree dudes and things in the wall. It feels like Ghost Light and the SJA story The Eternity Trap combined. Before that though, I’ll be reviewing Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2.

Smile review: All is forgiven Frank

Well, another week, another Doctor Who. After the fast paced frenzy of last week and the introduction of a great new companion, this week took a much slower pace with an episode that evoked Classic Who, in particular The Ark in Space and The Happiness Patrol.

As I said in my Series 10 hype post, this was the episode I was the most worried about, considering Frank Cottrell Boyce’s only other Doctor Who script was In the Forest of the Night. Fortunately, Smile was a lot better, and I enjoyed it even more than The Pilot.

A big part of this was because of the Doctor and Bill’s interactions, with Nardole completely disappearing from the episode in the first scene. The episode played out like a Part One of Classic Who, where the characters explore the setting by themselves. This was especially important as we needed to know how this new TARDIS team functioned and how Bill adjusted to life in the TARDIS. Having no real action or supporting characters meant the story could have been dull, but due to the interactions and continued character development I was entertained throughout.

My thoughts on the episode in a nutshell.

I love the structure of this story, with the pieces slowly being unravelled and the plot slowly fitting together to form a very enticing mystery. Each plot point made sense and felt necessary, with every aspect of the story slotting into place by the end. I’ll admit the ending was a bit weak, with the Doctor essentially rebooting the robots with his sonic screwdriver, but the resolution still ultimately left me satisfied due to the great build up.

The emojibots worked well in my opinion. They weren’t particularly scary but I don’t think they were meant to be, especially considering the whole story was just a misunderstanding between the Vardis and the humans. It was quite brave to have a story with no real villain (The Edge of Destruction, Listen and to an extent Gridlock all show how a story with no villain can work, as does Smile) and I appreciated the small scale nature of the story and due to the lack of a real antagonist the emojibots served their purpose well as a physical threat to keep the story from being too boring. This is the second story in a row with no actual villain, so I’m hoping this week we see the return of the evil, slightly hammy doomsday villain, because sometimes that’s good.

This frowny face is hilarious and is basically my reaction to there being yet another election I can’t vote in.

I found the Doctor’s characterisation in this episode spot on. It’s so refreshing to have the Doctor not know what’s going on and he has to solve everything by slowly investigating the situation and putting the pieces together. Something even rarer was the Doctor making a massive mistake and almost blowing up the cryogenic chambers. The Doctor rarely makes mistakes and seeing him make one was very refreshing, especially in comparison to the know-it-all persona that Steven Moffat loves. The balance between the gruff Doctor of Series 8 and the more quirky Doctor in Series 9 has been very well balanced, so it’s once again a shame that this is Peter Capaldi’s final series. I call it Peter Davison syndrome, where a Doctor only really comes into his own in his final series.

The story had a very William Hartnell vibe, from the slow pace to the Doctor miscalculating to the awesome link to Thin Ice at the end. Much like a William Hartnell story, we have a story which is more about the characters and the setting than the alien threat. The supporting characters however weren’t the best, and they only really popped up in the final third. This is where the story dips slightly, as In the Forest of the Night syndrome hits and we get some forced moralising, albeit more subtly. I wish the story developed the misunderstanding more and delved more deeply into the ideas of emotion and grief, which was the instigator of the whole story. The more I think about it, the more Smile is really just a more macarbe Inside Out.

I love the contrast between the clean city and dirty spaceship. This whole set looks like something out of the Tom Baker era.

 

SMILE OR DIE!

However, these are just a few flaws in what is a very enjoyable story. Bill continues to be great (in a few episodes time she may end up being my second favourite New Who companion, if not number one) and if the quality remains this good, we could have the best New Who series, surpassing even Series 4 and 5. Considering Smile had the most potential out of all the episodes to be bad, the fact that it’s good bodes very well for the episodes that looked great from the start.

Such as this week, featuring elephants and a frozen Thames. I cannot wait for this Saturday.

Doctor Who Series 10- Let the hype begin

Hasn’t this year gone quickly? It’s already April and the new Doctor Who series is on the horizon. So, like with the past two series, I’ll be going through the series and looking at which episodes I’m looking forward to the most.

  • The Pilot

So what’s with that title? I know Steven Moffat wants to have it feel like a brand new show, but that title’s weird. Anyway, this is the opening episode, which are never my most anticipated, but nonetheless this one is important as it’ll introduce Bill. From what I’ve read the Doctor is stuck on Earth like Jon Pertwee was and is doing lectures at Bill’s university. You’ve also got Nardole coming back as the second companion (I loved him in the Christmas Special and look forward to seeing more of him) and the Daleks returning. Again. This will be the second series in a row with a Dalek opener and I hope this isn’t a trend. Whilst the rest of the series sounds more exciting, this is the most important, as new viewers will be introduced to the Whoniverse and viewers who have gone off the show will want to be reminded why this show is awesome.

  • Smile

Out of all the episodes this series, this is the one I’m approaching with the most caution. While the idea of emoji robots is a silly concept, this show has done the Kandyman and superheroes so I’m fine with the idea. The switching faces remind me of the Smilers from The Beast Below (very underrated story may I add). The main reason I’m approaching this one carefully is the writer, Frank Cottrel Boyce, wrote the unmatched genius of In the Forest of the Night (it’s hard to be sarcastic while typing) and I don’t want a repeat of “We’re going to phone everyone on Earth and tell them to leave the trees alone”. The off world story is very important to new viewers as they need to see the diverse nature of the Whoniverse and End of the World, Gridlock, Planet of the Ood, Beast Below and The Rings of Akhaten are all great stories which showcase just how creative the show can be with alien planets and cultures. I just hope this episode matches up to them.

  • Thin Ice

Now we’re talking. The pseudo historical is my favourite genre of Doctor Who, and this one set in 1814 (Regency Period, the same as Blackadder III) is right up my alley. It once again has stiff competition in the “first trip companion has to the past” department against The Unquiet Dead, The Shakespeare Code, The Fires of Pompeii and Cold War (I really liked this one on a rewatch) but considering Sarah Dollard wrote Face the Raven we should be in for good things. This is set in the last Frost Fair and is rumoured to be about a giant snake in the Thames. Much like the off world story, the historical story needs to show viewers the variety of the show and demonstrate the BBC’s massive costume department. This is one of my most anticipated of the series, and it seems to be a standalone story with everything I want from an episode, especially the giant snake. Incidentally, I really hope the monsters this year are scarier and more intimidating that Lenny the Lion and walking sleep dust.

  • Knock Knock

I really hope that picture matches the episode. Not much is known about this one except for the fact it introduces the Landlord (played by one of my mum’s favourite actors David Suchet), who may or not be a Time Lord. This is written by Mike Bartlett in his first Who script, so we should expect ideas outside of the norm. Rumoured to be one of the scariest of the series, this story will supposedly answer why the floorboards creak. Giant woodlice are also supposed to be involved, so I’m hoping for the Tractators from the great Peter Davison story Frontios to return. How the wood people tie into all this is a mystery, but I hope they don’t have a connection to that terrible Christmas special which I can’t be bothered to type out because it’s too long (the one with the trees. Doctor Who and trees don’t get along well). I’m expecting this to be tied to the story arc in some way due to the Landlord being a heavly promoted character.

  • Oxygen

Again, really hope that picture matches. We once again have a story where we don’t know much, however I love what we do know. It’s set on a spaceship and appears to be similar to a Troughton base under siege and the underrated Series 3 story 42. It’s written by Jamie Mathieson who wrote the brilliant Mummy on the Orient Express and Flatline in Series 8 and co wrote the slightly less awesome but still fun Girl Who Died in Series 9. This appears to be another scary one and the clips of the Doctor and Bill in space appear to be from this story. I’m hoping that this turns out to be one of the best, as this also seems very standalone and character based. There’s no monster I can much to this episode, so maybe they’re too scary to put in the trailer like the Foretold was or they’re being hidden. It’s been ages since I’ve been scared by Doctor Who (it’s not the fact I’m older, as Waters of Mars still terrifies me) so hopefully this will truly be behind the sofa stuff.

  • Extremis/The Pyramid at the End of the World/The Lie of the Land

This is where things start to get really interesting, as there is a three part epic right in the middle of the series. This is my most anticipated of the series for many reasons. My favourite Master is returning, there’s some awesome looking new villains and it’s a three parter, which is very rare for the New Series. Whether this is going to be a full on three parter or a trilogy of linked like the Black Guardian trilogy or E-Space trilogy from Classic Who we don’t know. There’s three different writers, so my money’s on the second option. Part 1 is by Steven Moffat (mostly reliable), Part 2 is by Peter Harness (as long as he writes something like the Zygon Inversion and not Kill the Egg we should be fine) and Part 3 is by my favourite Doctor Who writer Toby Whithouse, so at least one part of this story will be awesome. Having a story this big in the middle of the series should be great as it will build momentum rather than lose momentum as a series often does, so let’s hope this story deserves a quarter of the series.

  • The Empress of Mars (WHAT a title)

As I’ve mentioned, I liked Cold War a lot more when I rewatched it a month ago. I didn’t like it when it first aired but I’ve come to the conclusion it’s a pretty good, if slightly rushed Ice Warrior story with an awesome setting and Matt Smith is great in it. The Ice Warriors are a very complex species so hopefully we will see good Ice Warriors, the awesome Ice Lord and the Grand Marshall in this episode. I like most of Mark Gatiss’s episodes and hopefully this one won’t slip under the radar due to its placement in the series. This one will be set on Mars (a potential return for the Flood?) and will also somehow have Zulu warriors. I’m looking forward to this one a lot more having rewatched both Cold War and watching their Classic Who stories (The Seeds of Death is really really fun and Curse of Peladon is one of my favourite Jon Pertwee stories). The Ice Warrior seen in the trailer appears to be the Empress of the Ice Warriors. This isn’t one of my most anticipated, but I think it’ll end up being one of my favourites.

  • The Eaters of Light

The first story in the New Series to be written by a Classic Who writer, Rona Monroe. She wrote the fantastic final story of Classic Who, Survival, which I highly recommend to anybody interested in checking out Classic Who as it’s very similar to Russel T Davies’s take on the show. Not much has been revealed apart from the title, but it appears to be set in ancient times (Romans are involved so probably the Roman conquest) and is said to be set in Scotland. Here’s hoping Peter Capaldi channels Sylvester McCoy in this one. This may end up being a pure historical, but judging by the title it’s probably not. As it’s the story before the finale, it needs to keep the momentum of the show going as Fear Her, In the Forest of the Night and Sleep No More all killed the momentum of the series which it needed before the finale. It may end up connecting to the finale like Utopia or Turn Left, but seeing how we don’t know anything about the arc it’s only speculation at this stage.

  • Episode 11 & 12

The original Cybermen from the Tenth Planet are back for what should hopefully be a fantastic finale. Steven Moffat’s track record with finales is patchy (Series 5, 7 and 8 have amazing finales, Series 6’s is meh and the less said about Hell Bent the better) but as this is his final one I’m expecting good things. We have Cybermen from the Tenth Planet as well as the new ones and the Cybus ones returning, so all we need are the Tomb of the Cybermen ones, the Invasion ones and the Exxxcellent ones from the 80’s. Missy is also returning, which is great as there’s always room for more Missy, and everything indicates that this will be one of the best finales of New Who. The Cybermen are my favourite monster and I’ve been longing for a finale in which they take centre stage, so I was so happy when I heard the news. Before this finale, watch the Tenth Planet and listen to the Big Finish audio Spare Parts for background on the Mondasian Cybermen. They’re so creepy with the cloth faces and sing-song voice and I hope Steven Moffat does them justice.

All in all, I am obviously very excited about Series 10. Unlike most of the other seasons, there doesn’t seem to be any obvious filler or cheap episodes, which is fantastic. We’ve got great writers, fantastic sounding episodes and a wide variety of monsters old and new. Add on top of that a new companion and a Doctor at the height of his powers and we should be in for what I hope is the first truly perfect series of New Who, because a perfect series is possible. Peter Capaldi deserves to go out on a high.

Here are my rankings from most to least anticipated-

  1. The Missy/Monk three parter
  2. Oxygen
  3. Thin Ice
  4. The finale
  5. Knock Knock
  6. The Eaters of Light
  7. The Pilot
  8. The Empress of Mars
  9. Smile

My visit to Cardiff: Doctor Who Experience

Yesterday I went to Cardiff with my mum and my friend Joe. While the main goal was to visit the Doctor Who Experience, there were many exciting things to comment on. Firstly, a few observations about Cardiff –

  1. There were no clear signs anywhere. No signs for toilets at the train station; no signs for the bus stop. There was no signpost from the train station to tell us where we could take the bus to the Doctor Who Experience. It really was strange walking about Central Cardiff with no idea where to go.
  2. I saw the place where the Tardis landed in the episodes Boom Town and Utopia. It was awesome!
  3. There were a lot of Welsh flags everywhere. There were many flying in the street. It seems strange seeing how there are barely any Union Flags here in England.
Wales flags in Cardiff

There are lots of Wales flags in Cardiff.

Visiting The Doctor Who Experience in Cardiff

So now onto the Doctor Who Experience. Read the rest of this entry

Top 5 favourite Doctors

I know normally this is the time for the Doctor Who episode review, but I still need time to think the latest episode over. Still, I thought it was really, really, really, really good, but the reason why the review is not here is because I need time to analyse it. Yes, that’s right, analysis! It’s THAT good.

So, it gives me an opportunity to do a post I’ve always wanted to do. So, with 13 Doctors, which ones are my favourites? If you know me you should know my favourite, but there are other Doctors who are equally as awesome. Let’s start off with the adventurer…

The Tenth Doctor, David Tennant

“Allons-y!”

 

Yes, it’s everyone’s favourite Doctor kicking off the list. One of the many reasons I like the Tenth is that he can go through so much without saying a word. The image above is from The Family of Blood, and without words you can see that he is angry. But he’s also fun loving (especially in Series 2) and caring, willing to give even people like Davros and the Master a chance to redeem themselves.

Despite losing so many people, with Rose permanently trapped in a parallel dimension, Martha leaving to look after her family and Donna having her memory wiped, the Doctor still remained optimistic and adventurous, throwing himself into adventures always with a cheeky grin on his face and mumbling science mumbo-jumbo in rapid succession. My favourite stories from his era include Silence in The Library/Forest of the Dead, Human Nature/The Family of Blood, The Waters of Mars, School Reunion and The Fires of Pompeii.

And now, it’s time for the time travelling eccentric…

The Fourth Doctor, Tom Baker

“Would you like a jelly baby?”

would you like a jelly baby

 

Before Tennant, Baker was arguably the most iconic Doctor (Well, why else would he be the only Classic Doctor Who actor to appear in the 50th?). His obvious alien nature, his quirky dress sense and his ability to change emotions in the space of a sentence truly makes the Fourth Doctor one of my favourites. He’s just impossible to dislike, as he would bounce up and down like a child and save the day before the villains even knew what had happened. This Doctor was always an outsider, as even when he was on Gallifrey he would stand out.

He too was subject to moments of darkness, but his bursts of rage contrasts his bubbly outer persona so well it never seems out of place. He was equally delighted in being held at gunpoint as he was sitting in the Tardis playing chess with K9. I’m currently having a marathon through his era with my Dad, so I’ve seen nearly all of his stories, with my favourites being Genesis of the Daleks, The Seeds of Doom, The Deadly Assasin, Image of the Fendhal and City of Death.

And now, it’s time to move onto the James Bond of Doctors…

The Third Doctor, Jon Pertwee

“Reverse the polarity of the neutron flow”

you sir are a nitwit

 

Stuck on Earth for the majority of his era, the Third Doctor was unlike any other incarnation, driving around in his car Bessie with a cloak billowing behind his back, ready to use Venusian Aikido on anyone standing in his way. Arguably the most violent incarnation (though the War Doctor might have topped that position), this Doctor was also armed with UNIT, a lab and a mouthful of sarcastic quips.

More like an Earth scientist than a Time Lord, his attitude is one of annoyance at being stuck on Earth, though as he gains re-control of the Tardis he loosens up and begins to accept Earth as a home. In fact, I like to believe the Doctor’s current love of Earth steams from his time working for UNIT. Oh, and the Third Doctor can’t be mentioned without mentioning the Master, whose rivalry with each other remains unmatched in Who history. My favourite Third Doctor stories include the Curse of Peladon, Planet of the Spiders, The Sea Devils, Terror of the Autons and The Green Death.

And now, make way for the mysterious manipulator of Time…

The Seventh Doctor, Sylvester McCoy

“Unlimited rice pudding, etc, etc?”

 

 

I’ll admit, the Seventh Doctor is probably the first Doctor I remember seeing (Remembrance of the Daleks I think I saw). Even though my love for this Doctor stems from his final season, I understand that many people dislike the Seventh due to his first season. However, he is one of my favourites simply because he seems so Doctorly. He treats every mistake as a lesson, and rather than using violence uses words and cunning manipulation to trick people. When he walks into a room, he already has everything planned out, and uses his vulnerability to fool his opponents.

People describe this Doctor as the chess master Doctor, which is a perfect description. He plans all his moves and will convert any uncontrollable situation into one which he has total control over. He hated violence (a stark contrast to the Third) and will use any means to achieve his own gain, even manipulating his companion Ace to figure out the mystery behind her, in what was one of the biggest story arcs in the Classic Series. Because the series was cancelled during the Seventh’s era, he didn’t have as many stories as the others on this list, but my favourites are Remembrance of the Daleks, Battlefield, The Curse of Fenric, Ghost Light and Survival, the latter four all consisted of his final season.

And now, my favourite. It’s time for the madman in a box…

The Eleventh Doctor, Matt Smith

“Geronimo!”

hello i'm the doctor

 

My favourite Doctor is also the era which made me a mad Who fan. Sure, I had seen David Tennant, but it wasn’t until Matt Smith where I truly became MAD about Doctor Who. Without him, I would never had been interested in Classic Who as much as I am now. Everything about the Eleventh Doctor seems made to suit me; his off beat manner, his optimism, his humorous comments, his manner of moving and speaking all come together into a Doctor which is just perfect to me. His personality truly changed during his run.

He started off as a madman who would hide his brilliance underneath a playful image, but during Series 6 and with the loss of Amy and Rory, he became a man tired of playing around and aimed to become a defender of the universe however bad it was. He stopped being a child inside a man’s body and turned into an old man inside a young body, who had seen so much evil yet hid it. His era was truly brilliant, and many of my all time favourite stories are from his era, including Vincent and the Doctor, The Doctor’s Wife, The Impossible Astronaught/Day of the Moon, The Doctor trilogy and of course, The God Complex.

So, those are my five favourites. What are yours? Coming soon: KILL THE MOON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

Into the Dalek review (Spoilers)

Two episodes in, and the Twelfth Doctor is shaping up to be epic. How does his first proper story hold up against the opener? But before we get going…

That stare of the Doctor.

SPOILERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Synopsis

As the episode title shows, this episode shows the Doctor and Clara venturing inside a Dalek, sort of like the Fourth Doctor story The Invisible Enemy. The Doctor finds himself caught in a fight between human soldiers and a fleet of Daleks. The humans have a weapon a Dalek which, according to the Doctor, is “so damaged it became good”. He offers to help go inside the Dalek as he believes that if he can fix this Dalek so that it stays good, he can make the rest of them good. He picks up Clara from her job and they proceed to enter the Dalek…

The main thing to note about this episode is the Doctor. He’s first seen in the episode inside the Tardis, having rescued one of the soldiers from the fight and holding a tray of coffee (the same coffee Clara asked for at the end of last episode). This scene has lots of clever dialogue, as the Doctor literally makes the soldier ask him to take her back to her ship. It’s a great way to show that the Doctor, whatever incarnation, will always try to use non-violence first.

The Doctor

The Doctor in this episode is cold and dark. It’s obvious that he’s still unsure about who he is (hence the “Am I a good man?” scene), but he understands the situation which they’re in. One stand out scene is when he’s inside the Dalek and he tricks a soldier into eating a tracking pill and having him be killed by the Dalek antibodies, allowing him, Clara and the other soldiers a chance to escape the antibodies themselves. This kind of behaviour is definitely not something the Eleventh or Tenth Doctor would have done, making the Twelfth a stark contrast to his predecessors.

What makes the Doctor interesting in this episode though is the fact that despite the fact he is not particularly pleasant in this story, he still has a strong belief that he can make the Daleks good and still has good intentions. When the Dalek turns evil though, he is genuinely upset and even gets slapped by Clara (Capaldi’s lucky, the amount of times Tennant was smacked is a lot more). Despite now being caught in a death machine, he’s still desperate to complete this plan and now aims to make the Dalek good, even if it is just one. However, in the end, the Dalek exterminates all the other Daleks on the ship and remarks to the Doctor “You are a good Dalek”.

Thus, several questions are raised. One: did the Doctor succeed in turning the Dalek good? It exterminated the other Daleks, but that is still wrong. And the second question is all about the final remark the Dalek makes. Both the Doctor and this Dalek have destroyed countless other Daleks in the past, so what makes them different? It’s a great dynamic which should make this Doctor interesting to watch.

The Daleks

The Daleks in this episode are at their coolest. Not only do they actually exterminate people in this episode, but they seem genuinely threatening and have a genuine presence.

The design of the inside of the Dalek is interesting and fun, and the action is a lot more fast paced than last week. The music is also really good and I’m starting to enjoy the new theme now. It has a Classic Who feel to it. This musical track is a stand out-

The episode also shows more of Clara’s life away from the Doctor and also introduces Danny Pink, who will be a major supporting character through the series. However, the beginning and the end of the episode which focuses on him feel strange and don’t link in with the episode. It does raise the fact that he’s a soldier and seeing how the Doctor hates soldiers it would be interesting to see how they will interact in Episode 4.

This leads me to the new segment called “The Top 5 Twelfth Doctor lines in the episode!”. First, the runners-up:

“Don’t be lasagna”

“She cares so I don’t have to”

“He was dead already, I was saving us”

“He’s on the top layer if you want a few words”

And the winner is:

Conclusion (I need to stop using that word it makes the review sound like a test paper)- 9/10 again. There are scenes which didn’t need to be here, but overall it is an interesting look at the Doctor and the Daleks. Onto next week, where I’ll explode in excitement that the Doctor is in medieval England-

 

Why are the Daleks so popular?

The new Doctor Who episode Into the Dalek will be shown tomorrow and I am excited! Why shouldn’t I be? It’s Doctor Who! But many people have stated that it is too early to introduce the Daleks to Capaldi’s Doctor two episodes into the series. I’m optimistic though, after all, every single Doctor (except the Eighth) have faced the Daleks on screen, and the trailer for the episode looks tense and dramatic (which apparently the episode is).

But why ARE the Daleks so popular? What makes them so iconic, so interesting, and so cool?

But first, a bit of history…

History of the Daleks: since 1963

Daleks Three by <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/54459164@N00/2623728853"> Johnson Cameraface</a> by Flickr.

Daleks Three by Johnson Cameraface by Flickr.

The Daleks first appeared in 1963 in the story called The Daleks (original, right?). They were the first proper aliens to fight the Doctor and were created by writer Terry Nation, who wrote a story where the Daleks waged war against another race called the Thals.

BBC designer Raymond Cusick came up with the iconic design and thus a sci-fi icon was made. The Daleks originally angered Doctor Who creator Sydney Newman, who wanted the show to be semi-educational and didn’t want any bug eyed monsters.

However, the Daleks were so popular that the historical aspect of the show moved into the background and the sci fi alien aspects took the foreground, with the Daleks appearing in over 20 stories since and making cameo appearances in many other stories.

Over 50 years, the Daleks were given a cohesive back-story within the show. So, for those who are tired of background exposition, here’s the origins of Daleks in pictures (if you already know and want to get to the point of the article, just skip the pictures) –

Davros, a scientist, creates machines to help his race the Kaleds win a war against the Thals. By doing so he removes all emotion from the Kaled soldiers and turns them into weapons the Daleks.

They destroy the Thals but unfortunately for him betray him and supposedly kill him* leaving them to go rogue and try to destroy the galaxy. *All of this text plus the Davros text is revealed in Genesis of the Daleks, one of the best Classic Series stories. Even though you know what happens now, it’s still essential Who viewing.

Lego Daleks by <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/lostcarpark/4976206209">James Shields</a> via Flickr.

Lego Daleks by James Shields via Flickr.

After scattered groups of surviving Daleks brawl Doctors 9 & 10, they trick the Eleventh Doctor into giving them the DNA code needed for the reconstruction of their race*, creating a new Dalek Parliament as seen in Asylum of the Daleks.

*As seen in Victory of the Daleks, aka the Skittles episode.

Why are the Daleks so popular?

And that’s where we’re at in terms of the shows continuity. I could just end this post now and re-name this Dalek 101, but I want to be different and analyse why the Daleks are so popular.

The first reason is probably their appearance. By now the Daleks are so iconic and so well-known you can see a Dalek silhouette and know exactly what it is. There’s just something about the design that is so simple yet so ominous and menacing. What’s my favourite Dalek design? Well, to be honest, it is the gold-plated New Series Daleks. Unoriginal I know, but the truth.

The Daleks - image by <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/54459164@N00/5669445634">Johnson Cameraface</a> via Flickr.

The Daleks – image by Johnson Cameraface via Flickr.

The second reason is the fact that they appeal to everyone. When I was younger (David Tennant era), I remember loving the Daleks and now, 8 years on, I still like them. Adults can appreciate the idea of a man (or alien) being turned into a machine and respect the darker parts of the Dalek mythos. There’s a reason Doctor Who Series 1 has a 12 rating well, apart from the Unquiet Dead and The Empty Child, it also has Dalek, a dark and gritty take on the Doctor and Dalek relationship.

Dalek Civil War by <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/54459164@N00/5195880804">Johnson Cameraface </a> via Flickr.

Dalek Civil War by Johnson Cameraface via Flickr.

But the most logical explanation as to why the Daleks are so popular, or at least the reason I think they’re so popular, is because they represent real life. Back in 1963 the people of Britain were still recovering from the war. The images of Nazis and war-torn places were still in people’s minds.

The Daleks were used to show the Nazis and people like them, and how evil they were. Both Hitler and Davros hated anything that isn’t them. I can’t be sure, but I think this is what the writers had in mind when they made the Daleks, as a metaphor for evil.

boomSo those are three reasons why I think the Daleks were, and still are, one of the most iconic sci-fi monsters of all time. Get ready with your anti Dalek spray tomorrow at 7: 30!

Where are we going?

Into darkness… 

Doctor Who Series 8 Episode 1 review

After 8 months of waiting, Doctor Who Series 8 has hit the television with Peter Capaldi as the Twelfth (or the 13th if you count John Hurt, or the 14th if you count John Hurt and the second David Tennant) Doctor. So how good is his 75 minute long opener Deep Breath?

Also, spoilers incoming. All my reviews will be in-depth, so make sure you watch the episode first.

Introduction to the new Doctor: Capaldi

As an introduction to the new Doctor, it’s great. From his first word (“Shush”), you can tell that this Doctor will be great. His comedic timing in the first half is funny as Matt Smith’s first few moments and as the episode goes on, Capaldi’s Doctor gradually evolves.

This Doctor is going to be fierce, harsh and 100% awesome. His Doctor seems to be a combination of the Third, Fourth, Seventh and Ninth in terms of screen presence and way of speaking (seeing how the Third, Fourth, Seventh and Ninth Doctors are four of my favourite Doctors, that’s a good thing).

The new Doctor Peter Capaldi

The new Doctor Peter Capaldi

This is not Tennant’s lovable charm or Smith’s childish glee, this Doctor is on a mission and he has the weariness of living for over 2,000 on his face. He even states to Clara that he’s not her boyfriend. It makes me desperate to see more of this Doctor and how he will be different.

If there is one flaw, it’s that this Doctor didn’t have a “Oh yeah, jump out of your seat and explode” moment. The scene in the cyborg’s spaceship is pretty epic with very good dialogue but I felt that he needed a scene to properly introduce him. With Matt, you had this –

The opening: T-Rex rampaging

Still, even without epic music and an epic speech, the Twelfth Doctor has had a solid start. But what about the rest of the episode?

Dinosaur in the first episode of Series 8.

Dinosaur in the first episode of Series 8.

The opening scene is great, with a T-Rex rampaging around Victorian London and spitting out the Tardis.

While there may be a dinosaur, cyborgs and a new Doctor, the main focus is on Clara, as she tries to get used to the new Doctor. She gets some character development while trapped in the cyborg ship and tries to escape by telling the leader of the cyborgs that killing her won’t tell them where the Doctor is and that letting her go will result in them being discovered. It’s always great to see a companion getting to know a new Doctor and see how they adapt to him.

Doctor and Carla

Doctor and Clara

The villain

The villain is also pretty good. While his evil plan is rather weak, the idea of a character constantly changing and rebuilding is a nice metaphor for the Doctor’s various changes. As the Doctor points out-

“Question: if you take a broom and replace the handle, and then later replace the brush – and you do it over and over again – is it still the same broom? Answer: no, of course it isn’t, but you can still sweep the floor . . . . You have replaced every piece of yourself, mechanical and organic, time and time again – there’s not a trace of the original you left. You probably can’t even remember where you got that face from.”

This is the best part of the episode. What the Doctor is saying is that even though you change something, it is still fundamentally the same inside. The Doctor has changed so many times but each Doctor (except for John Hurts) has the same rules and determination to save the universe.

The cyborg however, has changed so much that he doesn’t know what he is anymore. The ending of the scene ends with the cyborg impaled on a tall tower. Did the Doctor push him, or did the cyborg jump? There are many layers to this story that slowly get revealed. I personally think the Doctor pushed him, as he realised there is no alternative.

The ending

The ending of the episode has two standout moments: the first is Matt Smith’s cameo, talking on the phone to Clara just before he regenerates. I liked this scene as it is basically telling the audience to trust the new Doctor and stay with him.

And the second scene is the equivalent of a Marvel pre-credits scene, where the Gatekeeper of the Nethersphere, revealed to be in the finale, appears in what she says is Heaven. Who is she? The Master? The Rani? An evil Clara? River Song? Or someone completely different? Either way, it’s intriguing.

That stare of the Doctor.

That stare of the Doctor.

As for the new opening, well, to be honest, I still prefer the Series 7 Part 2 openings, and the new theme is not as well put together. The music in the episode is unique but it’s not very memorable. Hopefully we can get a definitive theme for the Twelve Doctor.

Conclusion – 9/10. Despite feeling like a Matt Smith story (which is sometimes distracting), this episode establishes the darker, more serious tone which the new series is going to stick with. Next week, it’s Into the Dalek. Sounds good to me!

Why does science fiction work so well?

Of all the genres in entertainment, science fiction is the one genre which I love the most. It just seems the most interesting and cool genre. I do like comedy and action, but science fiction appeals to me in many ways. So I want to know, why does it work so well? And why do I love it so much?

So, first of all, what is science fiction? Well, science fiction is a genre which uses science-based theories which are not confirmed by real science, such as aliens, time travel, spacecrafts and robots, to tell stories. These can be set in the real world or on alien planets or in pretty much anything.

So that’s a basic summary of what science fiction is. What famous examples are there? Well, for books, you have War of the Worlds and the Time Machine (both of which I know I need to read), and for films, well: Star Wars, ET, Star Trek and Jurassic Park just to name a few. And for television you have Doctor Who and Star Trek (again). All of these deal with science at their core,but are varied in their topics. There are two kinds of science fiction: hard sci-fi, which tries to be as accurate to science as possible, and soft sci-fi, which uses whatever they want to create a story. These will have aliens, spacecrafts, time travel and pretty much what ever they want, like most science fiction.

This leaves me to wonder – what makes so many people interested in science fiction? Maybe it’s the appeal of alien life and other worlds. If aliens are nice, great! But if they’re not… someone call the Doctor. But while there is no proof of aliens, the reason why they are often used for science fiction is because they COULD exist.

That’s why science fiction is so great. It uses things which could exist and makes them real. But hard science fiction also works. These stories use real science to try and explain things. There is no explanation as to how spaceships in Star Wars works, but if Yoda says…

yoda

Ah, you see, spaceships are powered by the power of FUEL! Typically from Shell and BP! Fuel is used to power spacecrafts they are!

… then the universe is more realistic. If  science is used to explain something, even if it’s impossible, then the story turns into hard science fiction. In Doctor Who, an explanation is given about how the TARDIS works, but it’s still a time traveling police box. In a film like Jurassic Park, real science which actually exists is used to explain the plot, making it seem more realistic. Cloning is real, even if it’s proved unsuccessful.

But perhaps the real craft of why sci-fi works is that it poses questions and themes which can’t work in other genres. What if robots could think? Does that make them human? Is cloning dinosaurs a good thing? Is it messing with nature? Is changing the past worth it, just so people don’t need to die? Is it possible to change your future? Is it dangerous and is it messing with fate? These deep questions appear in science fiction and can’t work in other genres. Dramas may have deep emotions and complex characters, but they can’t talk about the pros and cons of time travel. This is the real greatness behind science fiction. It isn’t just spaceships and aliens blowing things up, but it’s about addressing ideas which could one day be real.

But… sometimes it IS just about spaceships and aliens blowing things up.

Those stupid tow trucks- A Doctor Who review

You may remember my my Series 1 Doctor Who review post where I said one episode ruined a great series. That episode was Parting of the Blargh (sorry, I can’t say its real name), so today I’m going to look more in depth as to why this is my least favourite finale EVER!

(Just a little note, this is a single episode. Part 1 of this story, Bad Wolf, is very good. This episode just ruins it though.)

OK, so the immediate opening and the first few minutes are actually pretty cool. The Daleks have Rose and the Doctor and Jack are going to rescue her. But then, the Emperor Dalek shows up…

So the biggest flaw with this whole episode is the ‘plot’. There are so many things which don’t make sense. If the Emperor’s ship fell through a wormhole with only a few Daleks, how can they build an entire fleet, get Dalek casings for the kidnapped humans AND fully equip the ships with weapons?

Also, it’s revealed in Bad Wolf that the Doctor defeating the Jagrafess in the Long Game caused humanity to be set back, allowing the Daleks to invade. But, if the Jagrafess was defeated, then surely the humans would re-establish themselves? Was it the Dalek’s plan to let the Jagrafess be defeated so they could set up the Game Station? So if so, WHY HAVE THE JAGRAFESS PLAN IN THE FIRST PLACE?! I find it hilarious how one episode can make two others worse than they should be!

AND, if it couldn’t GET ANY STUPIDER, it does. The Emperor’s big speech about the evil plan takes about three minutes and it’s just the Emperor talking. This is a weakness which many critics call ‘show, don’t tell’, where exposition should be revealed in an interesting way, like the opening of Thor or Up (the latter didn’t even have any talking). If the Emperor was talking with images of the Time War playing, it would have made the scene cooler.

So the rest of the episode is just the Doctor and the people on the station fighting with machine guns.

R..E…A…L…L…Y??

dalek 787877878787

In the previous Dalek story, Dalek, and the classic series, Daleks were bulletproof. The Doctor knows this. WHY DOES HE GIVE PEOPLE NORMAL GUNS TO FIGHT BULLETPROOF CREATURES?!

There’s also some moments where the moral choices presented in Dalek show up, forcing the Doctor to decide if he should destroy mankind to kill the Daleks, but since so much screen time is spent with Rose on Earth, these themes about sacrifice, which were presented spectacularly in Dalek, are non-existent.

Oh yeah, I missed all the stupid stuff with Rose on Earth. After a scene in the TARDIS (which, I will admit, was lovely), we then have a scene with Rose EATING CHIPS! WHERE’S THE DRAMA?! WHERE’S THE THEMES OF SACRIFICE? WHERE’S THE AWESOME DALEK ACTION?!

But easily the worst part of the whole episode is when Jackie actually gets a tow truck to pull the heart of the TARDIS open.

WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAATTTTTTTT??????????????????????????????

The shots of the tow truck are after shots of Daleks killing people on the station. Talk about tonal changes! The truck scenes are so stupid, I can’t say anything about it. Apart from the question- WHERE’S THE FINALE?!

This can’t be the epic conclusion to an amazing series! Instead of deep emotions, themes and amazing action, we’re seeing people eating chips, tow trucks pulling open the TARDIS and so many inconsistencies they could fill a road with holes!

But Rose does get back to the station where the Daleks are about to kill the Doctor. Now, this could have been a fantastic moment for a deep, emotional moment where the Doctor is about to die and those themes about sacrifice and revenge shown in Dalek could pay off. But instead…

NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

WHAT WHAT WHAT WHAT WHAT?!

If the episode wanted to focus on the Doctor and the Time War, then that should have been the focus. If it wanted to focus on Rose and her loyalty to the Doctor, then THAT should have been the focus. You can’t just put two ideas with great potential and cobble them together! If it had focused on either of the two elements in the story, got rid of the inconsistencies and stupid moments, then this episode could have been a masterpiece of television. But we’re left with a mash of ideas and themes filled in with ridiculous and stupid scenes.

This ending also has another huge problem: it’s a huge deus ex machina. This is a term critics use when a writer just sorts out a problem with a single scene or an incredibly easy solution. All the great themes are just destroyed by this one scene which comes out of nowhere JUST to round out the series plot threads. That’s more lazy than lazy!

So then, in case the story wasn’t trying to tug at our heartstrings enough, the Doctor regenerates. This also comes out of nowhere. If he had regenerated as a result of trying to kill the Daleks, that would have worked and could have made me cry. But since the rest of the episode (except that nice hologram scene, once again ruined by that stupid deus ex machina) was such a huge mess in terms of storytelling and character structure, then that means the regeneration is just pointless.

Oh Doctor Nine, you were awesome (and you’re going to be the villain in Thor 2). You just had to go in an episode worthy of your awesomeness.