[Doctor Who Review] Listen

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Don’t turn round.

This is the episode that horror writers/directors should watch to see the tension get wretched up without the cheap thrills, blood or music. Written by Stephen Moffat it takes it’s themes from Don’t Blink and Silence in the Library without the use of the Angels that have become the Borg to the Doctor’s Enterprise.

Listen begins with Doctor positing a theory: Are we actually alone when we talk out loud or do we have a companion? He does this by himself in the TARDIS. Writing things down and pacing around the set. Capaldi nails it like Tennent would’ve while Smith probably wouldn’t have nailed the dismount.

I know some Smith fans may not want to hear this but the Doctor on a caffeine high has left the building. I hope a Neil Gaiman Capadi episode but it doesn’t look like that’s gonna happen this season.

While the Doctor sets the mood, Clara and Danny Pink have a first date. The date doesn’t go well and Clara comes home to find the Doctor and the TARDIS occupying 3/4 of her bedroom.

In the post haze of the bad date, the Doctor uses the TARDIS to focus on Clara’s timeline and pop back to see where Clara had that dream everyone has about something under the bed. Except, instead of Clara’s timeline we get to Rupert Pink and soon find out that yes, there probably is something under the bed and all it takes is a bed sheet, Capaldi and good direction and we get a successor to Blink.

But, it doesn’t stop there. Clara asks to go back to the date and retry with Danny until Clara name drops Rupert and everything implodes again because Danny is Rupert. It implodes even more when the orange spaceman suit walks into the restaurant and motions Clara to follow him.

It’s at this point no one gets up and demands to know why, this is Cardiff after all, the populace is so desensitized to the Doctor’s shenanigans that no one blinks at the strange. Torchwood should’ve been like this: Oh, more alien crap, thattaway, Torchwood and go back to their tea.

The man in the spacesuit isn’t the Doctor but Orson Pink and the Doctor found him 100 years into Clara’s timeline, they launched him into space and he promptly got Buck Rogers and now he’s the last man in the universe but he’s not alone.

Once Orson saves the Doctor, Clara tries to fix things and goes back down the timeline and lands in a barn and gives a crying child a good speech about the things that go bump in the night. The barn didn’t make sense at first until we find out why. The why was nicely done and I won’t ruin it here but it’s a great call back that I didn’t see coming and it really worked.

Clara’s dialogue with the new Doctor continues to be a highlight while she gets her history filled in even if it’s possible future.

Danny’s soldier days while not big speed bump like they were in Into the Dalek is better this time round. I think he’ll make a good addition to the companions once we see him in action and not him as a child or his great grandson.

It was a good episode all around and highly enjoyed it.

[Doctor Who Review] The Robot of Sherwood

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For everyone who complained (not me) about episodes 1+2 being off and Episode 3 being back on track were half right.

Episode 3 is a classic Doctor Who historical episode.

Clara makes a request to go see a fictional character and while the Doctor tries to dissuade her, she puts down her foot and we return to Nottingham, 12th century and are instantly greeted by Robin Hood much to the Doctor’s annoyance.

The tropes are there, Doctor and Robin fight on a bridge, each man besting each other. #3’s fencing comes in handy, although not as one might expect. The Merry Men are all introduced and the Sheriff while not as menacing as Alan Rickman, he’s still wants power and is willing to do anything to get it.

And they all fight with English accents. Ha za!

As always something is wrong and the Doctor begins looking for it within the men then the environment and finds it when as the tale goes, Robin walks into a trap and the Sheriff unleashes his robotic knights and thus begins our trip down the rabbit hole to figure out: 1. Is Robin and the Sheriff robots? 2. Why is the Sheriff taking all the gold? 3. Robotic knights with cross lasers in their foreheads?

The fact Robin and the Doctor don’t get along is better than expected. Most of the time, the Doctor and his new friends generally get along well but the constant back and forth between him and the Earl of Loxley was refreshing. All the while, Clara can’t stand any of it since the Doctor’s normal plan is to use his now stolen sonic screwdriver.

I’ve been enjoying Capaldi since episode 1 and this episode felt right on the money. No picking up Clara, just straight into the story. Tardis arriving shot and the whole nine.

Clara gets a bit more to work with besides the added tae kwon do (which makes great sense with all the adventuring) when she’s interrogating the Sheriff of his plans. Thankfully, he’s not a robot because we’ve had that trope before and it’s been done to death.

The robots from episode 1 make a re-appearance but not as clockwork as they were before and we’re given enough backstory that they landed here from the 29th Century headed to The Promised Land to make repairs to the engines and forged an alliance with the Sheriff.

The Doctor rallies the prisoners in the Sheriffs dungeon and destroys most of the robots in the simplest fashion for the time without his sonic screwdriver.

The only thing missing is Missy and not welcoming the Sheriff to The Promised Land but we don’t want to repeat ourselves from last episode.

Overall, great episode. Throughly enjoyed it.

[Doctor Who Review] Into the Dalek

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(Image courtesy of David Catterall)

The carry over from the Matt Smith years continues with the Doctor in the beginning of his journey only to have to pick Clara up from school before dashing off to face down the pepper shakers of doom.

The ole’ Daleks are back! Ha za! No more Skittle colored Daleks to be found! No Devros. No Emperor Dalek. No eye stalks coming out people’s heads. No creep factor that was Asylum of the Daleks. Instead, we do actually go to the most dangerous place in all the universe.

Taking place on a human ship hiding in an asteroid belt from the Daleks, the Doctor rescues, Journey Blue played by Zawe Ashton just as her space ship is about to be blown up and returns her to her uncle, Col. Morgan Blue played by Michael Smiley on board the aforementioned spaceship, Aristotle and is greeted by an imprisoned Dalek that cares.

Meanwhile, Clara is introduced to Danny Pink played by Samuel Anderson, a former soldier who from most reports will be another companion this year. Danny isn’t dragged along this time and is left for most of the episode so the Doctor, Clara, Journey and 2 red shirts can be micronized into a Dalek to see what’s wrong with it.

Yep, it’s Doctor Who meets Fantastic Voyage (which oddly enough hasn’t been remade, yet).

The interior of the Dalek is a fun set piece. It may look like people climbing through a big computer. But anything with roving eyes that act as anti-bodies is pretty creepy cool. It feels more real than the dungeon set piece from Deep Breath.

The Daleks and the Doctor may have been enemies before but since the Time War it’s gotten worse. Once the Dalek’s problem is fixed it goes back to the same ole’ Exterminate routine and the solution to the problem works until the Doctor goes one step further and we get a similar problem to The Fourth Doctor’s situation in The Face of Evil. Kids, never imprint your 900+ year old brain onto anyone, m’kay?

The conclusion feels foreboding enough and one might wonder if the Doctor’s hatred will cool because of this or if two angry people are going to their separate corners of the universe only to come back for a rematch.

Capaldi continues to handle things well. He’s a bit sharp around the edges which is both good and bad. His treatment of the red shirts and women in particular does need a bit fine tuning to say the least. Most of the time he’s great then sometimes you have to wonder why the writers typed that in.

Thankfully he’s surrounded by strong women this episode and more than once gets slapped and pushed against the wall demanding to know why he just let someone die after giving them false hope.

Journey tries to hop a ride but the Doctor turns her down due to her tenancy to shoot first and ask politely later. If and when the next companion slot opens up, I hope they’d return to the character to see if she’s changed.

The ongoing plot thread for this season is Missy. First introduced in last weeks episode and welcoming the antagonistic robot to the “promised land”, she welcomes one of the red shirts to “Heaven” and offers her tea.

So who is Missy, exactly? Theories are running the gamut from Rani to TARDIS to Master. I’m happy we’re getting something. The last season with the Great Intelligence wasn’t so great and lack any emotional punch or set up. The Doctor does need an ongoing plot in the background to keep things interesting from a crack in the wall to John Saxon.

[Doctor Who] The Day of the Doctor

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It has been fifty years since William Hartnell premiered in the Unearthly Child.

I can thank WGBH out of Boston for being here.

In the eighties my family was glued to the television set at 7pm on weeknights for 30mins of Cybermen, Daleks and a Timelord played by Tom Baker.

The Day of the Doctor revisits a fixed point that has been elephant in the room since the series restarted: The Time War. Timelords vs. Daleks and Doctor #8 being at the middle of it all until one day he decides drop his pacifist notions and by way of a elixir of life from the Sisterhood of Karn, becomes a war doctor.

The downside of seeing Paul McGann regenerate into John Hurt is that it’s not part of The Day of the Doctor special itself. Don’t get me wrong it’s a great snippet that should be how we start off this special.

Instead we get a classic opening. As in, the old black and white opening turning to color as we find Clara, played again by Jenna Coleman is now a school teacher near to Foreman Junkyard that started it all 50 years ago. This is slightly perplexing because the last time we saw the Doctor and Clara at Trenzalore and the whole timeline with the Intelligence trying to kill them all.

The Doctor and Clara are picked up, literally, by a UNIT helicopter and brought back to London where trouble is a abrewing in the form of a three dimensional painting called Galifrey Falls or No More. It should not exist. This brings up bad memories for the Doctor obviously and the we are shown the final day of the war as John Hurt puts the hurt on some Daleks and steals “the moment” a galaxy eating machine that has a personality.

He steals it because he plans on using it to end the war and in doing so treks to this far off place that if I didn’t know better was his home but no one mentions who, what, when or why so I’m going with his childhood home.

The moment is steampunk-type box with clock gears and it’s personality is none other than the Bad Wolf herself played by Billie Piper.

The dialogue between the two of them is getting off to rather good start when the plot pulls them away when a time vortex opens and a fez pops through something neither of them were expecting unless you’re the audience and you know exactly how Moffat’s mind works.

Everything is out of time/space so going back to the Doctor and UNIT where Kate Stewart played by Jemma Redgrave brings the audience up to speed on the Doctor’s affair with Elizabeth 1.

Somewhere between Voyage of the Damned and Partners in Crime, Doctor #10 visited Queen Elizabeth and the two are having a lovely time playing kissy face when Zygons try to take over the Crown. And while running away from these shape shifters is when #10 and #11 meet up with hilarious results until the War Doctor arrives through the time vortex the fez came through and quickly all three are dumped into the Tower of London as prisoners.

I should also make mention that John Hurt steals every single scene he’s in and for some reason there wasn’t enough in the budget to spike #10’s hair so he may look odd. If the scarf was #4’s trademark then the hair is trademarked for #10.

Soon the Zygons threaten to derail the plot but the Doctors fix the on coming invasion quickly and get back on track to the real problem at hand: The War Doctor is about to blow up all of Galifrey to stop the war. The prop department had a good time with this episode from the Black Vault that is TARDIS proof with certain Doctor items to having 3 Tardi next to each other with different paint schemes and designs.

The three actors, John Hurt, David Tennent and Matt Smith really act with each other. Having all three of them stuck in the Tower of London to bounce off each other was a great idea because there are no explosions or SFX, it’s just them and their baggage and Bad Wolf just watching them all.

Clara and Bad Wolf are mostly in the background and while they’re there for most of the big scenes they get the short end of the stick since the dopey Elizabeth plot is given so much.

UNIT and their secret vaults are a great idea since Torchwood inception and execution was fumbled and they are practically no longer even in the picture. I hope the areas introduced are used again next season.

As for the overall plot: It’s really all over the place and really when you have a Doctor team up most of the plot goes out the window. Part of me and probably my mother would ask this: Ditch Queen Elizabeth and get the Doctor/Donna back in there. Donna zingers would have helped or even Wilf.

This episode thankfully gives the Doctor his call to action without blowing up the universe, or gathering the heroes to save the universe or the hero’s journey shenanigans that most season finales are there for.

Instead this episode was about one man trying to figure out what’s the right thing to do in the time of war.

The Curator idea I loved before the Curator showed up. I wished for more Curators but as you’ll see the extra special video at the bottom of this post helps.

Does The Day of the Doctor make up for the lameness of Season 7. Nope.

Season 7 should have built up to this but instead this episode is rather stand alone. Like neatening up dangling plot lines.

The Christmas Episode should be interesting since it’ll be Matt Smith’s last and Peter Capaldi’s first. I’m hoping for a grim Christmas episode or least one without the sweet tooth.

And for a extra special treat: A 30min film written and directed by Peter #5 Davidson which features a good deal of the Whovian cast both past and present.

The Five(ish) Doctors –

[Doctor Who] The Night of the Doctor

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Rob Callahan pretty much covered this in his post. I figure I’d post about it since I’ve been busy with NaNoWrimo…

The Doctor Who 50th Anniversary is now one week away and according to the trailers focuses on the Time War.

The Time War between the Time Lords and the Daleks has been the one fixed point since the new series started almost eight years ago. Originally used to give the series a clean start without at the time forty years worth of backstory to catch up on the fixed point is now front and center.

This off-scene event has brought up the who, what, why and how. There was some vague dialogue from Rassilion about the Doctor having the “moment”.

Sure, the comics have filled in the gaps and after several minutes of wikipedia searching the “moment” is weapon that can erase people from time and space. Pieces of this moment are scattered all through out Doctor Who lore starting with a De-Mat Gun which brings us all the way back to the Invasion of Time with Sontarans and Doctor #4 and Leela.

Whew.

I’d complain about the gaping holes in Amazon Instant Videos from seasons 13-15 of Doctor Who but I digress

The good news is BBC did a prequel to fill in the blanks between Doctor #8, The Time War and Doctor #9.

It features Doctor #8 and name checks many companions from the Big Finish Production radio plays that Paul McGann has voiced over the years.

It is 7 minutes of gloriousness.

Now, in order to enjoy this you must: A. Remember the 2hr Fox TV Movie from 1996 featuring Doctor #7 to #8 and then B. remember The Brain of Morbius with Doctor #4 and Sarah Jane Smith.

The Sisterhood of Karn and their elixir of life.

This video brings up the elephant in the room regarding the Doctor’s regenerations.

How many does he actually have left? The Vailyard, who? Did rebooting the universe reboot his regenerations? Do we actually count any of the Sarah Jane tv show saying he’ll live forever?

The funny thing is I almost miss the older seasons where they gave you dribs and drabs but nothing concrete unless necessary.

I think in a post-X-Files/LOST television world a shows mythology may be too much a burden. Like a reset button is needed no matter what.

Having survived the 80’s/90’s/00’s of comic bookdom I’d normally roll my eyes at the reset button, instead I’ll roll my eyes at the fact I can’t watch every single episode of Doctor Who on Amazon Instant Video.

Personally, my money is on the Timelords coming back from their fixed moment, go back to being the stuffy shirts they were and letting the Doctor go off on his own while backhanding complimenting him for his service by extending his regenerations.

Simple. Short. Sweet just in time for his next regeneration.

[#doctorwho] The rise of the twelfth will be televised.

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On the fields of Trenzalore, at the fall of the eleventh, when no living creature can speak falsely or fail to answer, a Question will be asked. A question that must never, ever be answered. The Question is just “Doctor Who?”

So the big news of the weekend is BBC and BBC America will be doing a live show to announce the actor playing the twelfth Doctor. At 2pm ET we will know who takes over Matt Smith’s shoes!

My mother is happier than the rest of you, trust me.

Everyone else remember four years ago when we just got a picture? Like this one?

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Don’t get me wrong I love the fact that BBC/BBC America’s advertising machine has gotten up the speed. I’m wondering if we’re reaching Apple Keynote levels of hysteria. Or is Hall H without the lines?

It should come as no surprise the Doctor has a randomizer, er, reality distortion field.

The Time Lord’s golden handcuffs are tighter than most, I fear. Having nothing to do with the actor/actress but more to do with the writers and the fact this is still considered a children’s show.

When this new season, the new Doctor and the writing staff debut I’m going to give them a chance but if this next season turns out like last season then we got problems.

Having seen Matt Smith twice during The Nerdist’s SDCC Podcast he seemed to have his feet on the ground.

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He was the nicest to people from recording someone’s marriage proposal to donating to a fan who had had her wallet and bags stolen.

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As Smith’s era comes to a close I think his seasons flowed better than the end of Tennant’s even if I liked Tennant’s portrayal more than Smith’s. Tennant’s truncated final season was okay with the season finale making up for it. It’s a pity his era didn’t get the advertising push Smith’s is receiving right now.

Here’s hoping the next regeneration goes smoother than fan reaction when the 50th Anniversary Trailer was not released after SDCC.

[Doctor Who Review] The Name of the Doctor

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Ever since the second half of this season of Doctor Who started the quality of the writing has taken a giant step backwards. The overall arcing plots that we’ve come to know and enjoy disappeared to replaced with one rather tepid plot: Who is Clara Oswald and why is she impossible?

This has made her into a mix of River Song/Rose Tyler-type but without the puppy dog eyes when it comes to luvin’ the Doctor.

Steven Moffat’s MO since he started is time traveling out of sequence is fun fun fun for the entire family. Something like Memento mixed with Back to the Future.

I was ready to write this episode off.

Until the pre-credit sequence has Clara greenscreened into 1 adventure per Doctor.

And, even as far back as the Doctor and his granddaughter stealing the TARDIS before The Unearthly Child episode.

Yeh. They went there.
Continue reading [Doctor Who Review] The Name of the Doctor

[Doctor Who Review] The Crimson Horror

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Diana Rigg has been busy this season from Game of Thrones to Doctor Who she has got her bases covered. Each of the characters at polar opposites of each other.

In The Crimson Horror she plays a scientist Madame Gillyflower that has created her own perfect little town called Sweetville that is taking the best the brightest and using goo from the 65 million years ago to turn them into mindless slaves and she’s going to take over the planet.

Yeah, it’s one of those plots.

Madame Vastra, Jenny and Strax learn about the odd dealings and begin to investigate and find something peculiar: the Doctor was the last thing the victim saw before dying.

Through undercover work and sneaking around Jenny finds out why: the Doctor and Clara found out about the odd dealings too and decided to investigate and were captured.

Overall, Diana Rigg steals the episode with her blind ambition even harming her own daughter Ada played by her own real life daughter, Rachel Stirling. Ada’s arc through the episode follows dots from sub-serviant blind daughter to taking back her life.

The trio of Vastra, Jenny and Strax are happy sight enough so to ignore the blatant GPS directions from Thomas Thomas. This could have been a Doctor-less episode and it still would have been good. And I think the audience would have applauded the idea.

Cybermen from Neil Gaiman next week followed by the finale on the 5/18.

[Doctor Who Review] Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS

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I’m happy to see a ship in the bottle episode in the TARDIS. Last season’s Doctor’s Wife was more psychological while this was more action oriented I thought. It is the one type of episode that could easily be stretched out into a multiple episodes and I wouldn’t bat an eye since Doctor Who has been around for 50 years and after 900 years the Doctor must have an metric ton worth of baggage and possibly even a stowaway civilization on board.

The set designers pull off some nice rooms: the observatory, the aforementioned pool, the library, a giant tree that can manufacture anything you want and the TARDIS’s engine room which impressed me more than her center.

Unfortunately, it’s the leaps in logic that’s making me re-watch the last five minutes and I’m starting to agree with my mother: Is this half of the season sucking.
Continue reading [Doctor Who Review] Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS

[Doctor Who Review] The Rings of Akhaten

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2nd episodes for companions have followed a certain formula since Rose and #9 jaunted off. Save Cardiff in Episode 1 and go somewhere mind blowing in Episode 2.

The Rings of Akhaten falls somewhere between Love and Monsters and Fear Her on my I want my 40mins back Doctor Who scale of suck.
Continue reading [Doctor Who Review] The Rings of Akhaten

[Doctor Who Review] The Snowmen

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Thank you for a scary Doctor Who Christmas Story. In previous years it’s been cute but we have scary since Christmas Invasion and for the most part it works.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t hold together well in the end because the villain while able to make snowmen with teeth doesn’t hold up and turns out to be a possible plot thread for the rest of season 6.
Continue reading [Doctor Who Review] The Snowmen

[Doctor Who Review] A town called Mercy

From dinosaurs one week to cowboys the next, A town called Mercy opens like many Doctor Who episodes with a teaser!

A stand off between two aliens, a cyborg on one side and a alien dressed up like a Mad Max reject, the reject dies only for the cyborg to state the Doctor is next.
Continue reading [Doctor Who Review] A town called Mercy

[Doctor Who Review] Dinosaurs on a Spaceship

Dinosaurs was a fun episode but for the fun I think it squeezed too many people into 43 minutes.

It has been 10 months since the Ponds saw the Doctor and things seem to be on the mend in the household. Meanwhile the Doctor and Queen Nefertiti just saved her people from locusts and before long she and the Doctor are off so quickly you wonder if the Doctor is going to continue light hearts afire across time and space.

See there is a problem in the 24th Century, a giant ship is about to crash into Earth and the International Space Agency has summoned the Doctor for help and he in turn goes back in time to get a big game hunter, Riddell played by Rupert Graves and the Ponds in under two minutes and while the audience tries not suffer from whiplash the TARDIS arrives on the spaceship only to find Dinosaurs!

Cue the credits.
Continue reading [Doctor Who Review] Dinosaurs on a Spaceship

[Doctor Who Review] Asylum of the Daleks

Well, the good news is, this episode is nowhere near as bad as Victory of the Daleks. Sure, the Skittle Daleks show up but the old school Daleks outnumber them about a billion to one. It does not declaw the Daleks and instead it gives up a little peek into the Dalek’s closet to see how far Dalek’s science has evolved.

Let’s recap, when we last left our heroes, ya know what, let’s ignore Season 6 because it makes my head hurt and I think I’ve complained enough.

The Daleks return in grand form to where it all started: Skarro.

Ever so brief, the Doctor appears from his self imposed exile to help someone in need, but it’s all a ruse for the pepper shakers of doom to capture their predator.

Meanwhile, for those who missed Pond Life, Rory and Amy have settled down and stopped traveling with the Doctor even if elements are moving through their lives like the Ood Butler until things come to a point and it appears things are on the rocks for the Ponds, the plot line established towards the end of last season with Amy becoming a model comes back until the Daleks capture the Ponds, kidnap them onboard one of their ships and bring the Doctor, Amy and Rory to the Asylum of the Daleks.

It is here where they want the Doctor and Co to find out why there’s a signal coming the shielded planet, a planet where there should be only Dalek life and instead, classic music is playing.

The classic music is coming from Oswin played by Jenna-Louise Coleman of a ship called Alaska. Alaska crashed and she is the sole survivor. But once the Doctor and Co. land on planet they find everything is not what it seems.

The Daleks have created a field to change any human survivors into Daleks and begins with an eye stalk coming out of people’s heads. I imagine the cos-players are already designing their stalks now.

The episode on a whole actually made the pepper shakers of doomer scarier and slightly more comedic in spots. Polished and shiny enemies is one thing, when your enemies have taken a few licks and battle damaged then chained up and left alone to their own devices for years it reminds you why we love them so much. They are fracking creepy.

I’m going to keep this review lighter than most due to several spoilers. I enjoyed the Oswin’s arc better than most of the one off characters, she came across as believable for the amount of time she was on screen.

Unlike last year’s over arching plot, this episode was mostly free of foreshadowing, not counting the situation with the Ponds until they they come to an end in four episodes.

The one and only problem I had was the lazy CGI at the end with the rockets.

Givin’ it three regenerations out of four.

[Doctor Who Mini Review] The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe…

I enjoyed this Christmas Special better than last years and the year before and the year before. Ever since Christmas Invasion the tone of these specials has been old over the map from the stupid Racknoss to the loud and over blown Titanic Episode to the Scrooged-eseque episode from last year. The Christmas Ep with the fake Doctor wasn’t so shabby until Temple of Cyberman showed up with their giant steampunk Cyberman Robot.
Continue reading [Doctor Who Mini Review] The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe…

[Doctor Who Review] The Wedding of River Song

The death of time…

Like last years season finale this was on a small scale and brought about some great situations that come from a science fiction show. I mentioned in the past, alt reality episodes have become the bread and butter of most programs, Fringe has embraced it all of last season and last night’s episode was a perfect example of how to do it right.
Continue reading [Doctor Who Review] The Wedding of River Song

[Doctor Who] Closing Time

I hate that face! I’ve had nightmares about that face!

Good ole Craig! It’s Doctor Who’s version of Hurley!

So with one episode to go until the big finish and since they’re filming the Christmas Episode even as we speak, I have to say this entire Melody Pond being brainwashed to kill the Doctor was originally a great idea.

Unfortunately, something happened in the office’s of the Beeb and someone said (I can only assume): Ya know wot, how is that gonna work exactly?

Getting past that whole mess of Melody Pond, the Silence and killing the Doc, let’s get back to the episode at hand: Cybermen stalking people in a Department Store! Complete with Cybermat!
Continue reading [Doctor Who] Closing Time

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