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THE NON-SPOILERY BIT FIRST
And at last we come to the end of Series 6 of Doctor Who. All year it has felt as if it would never get here and yet here we are with the complete story. It is so weird to reach this point, even though we all knew it was coming.
Not so oddly enough, my initial first reaction to The Wedding of River Song was the exact same one I had towards the first episode of the season, The Impossible Astronaut. I was left with an ambivalent, empty feeling that it was unsatisfying, too jammed packed with too much information, too many cool FX and visuals and no time spent on emotional content. Surprised at my feelings then, I did the same thing today as I did then with that season opener. I rewatched the episode. And sure enough, it was much better the second time around.
I guess I was distracted, or maybe it was reading all the spoilers beforehand. Who knows? These episodes took much, much longer to grow on me, which in the end is no bad thing as long as I retain and practice something all the loud-mouthed moaners and pissers in Doctor Who fandom don’t. That is patience and faith. All great things in life are either adored or hated and Doctor Who has always ridden that roller coaster of human emotion like a trip through the time vortex in a Tardis with no outer shell. It’s an insane, bucking ride – sometimes full of bad FX, poor scripts and little hope for continuation, as in the 90s. And somehow, through it all, it has always survived.
NOW FOR THE SPOILERY PART
As we saw in the last episode in Closing Time, the Doctor seemed resigned to his fate. Visiting Craig was the best thing that happened to him as the human gave him what he needed to not go down without a fight – validation of his invaluable contribution to the universe. Now, in The Wedding of River Song, he goes on a mission to find out why he has to die. Time has stopped, jammed on the point of his death beside Lake Silencio. Emperor Winston Churchill, sensing something is wrong with time, drags our mad soothsayer Doctor out of the dungeons to explain this phenomenon to him. Stuck in modern times, above their heads are traffic jams of cars held aloft by balloons, pterodactyls terrorize Hyde Park and Roman chariots wait to cross London streets at traffic lights. As colorful and fun as this new world seems, it’s all gone wrong and the Doctor tells his old friend how it all started with a woman.
There is a wonderful balance of fun along with the gut-wrenching scenes of River Song begging the Doctor to run as the astronaut suit forces her hand to rise in the air to deliver the killing blows.
Baddies do get theirs, quite satisfyingly, heads in boxes deliver great, snappy comeback lines and the creep factor is raised by scores of cockroach-like Silents clinging to ceilings above and pits of skulls that keep their lairs free of rats – and unwelcome visitors – by eating them. *shudder*
This is a fun, true to form Moffat story that doesn’t reveal its best-kept, series-long secrets until the literal last 5-10 minutes of air time. And while I have been waiting all year for those, the best scenes are also the emotional ones. The 1,100 year old Time Lord may not understand why River would endanger the universe to find a way to save him, but we the viewers do and it brought tears to my eyes when she proclaims to him that she would suffer more than all the beings in the universe combined if she had to stand on that Utah lakeside and end his life. What else could he do than what he did next? Hence the name of the episode.
Thank you, Steven Moffat. Thank you for still finding amazing places to take the Doctor after 30+ years of adventure. We love you for it.
Usual spoilers warnings apply…flee ye who have not seen any episodes and are avoiding knowing your own viewing future!
The mad man is alone in his box. Having dropped Amy and Rory back on Earth, gifting them with a car and a nice flat, he decides to drop in on his old flat mate, Craig Owens, from last year’s episode, The Lodger. Again we are treated to how awkward yet sweet the Gallifreyan is with customs of human interaction. When he senses trouble is afoot, he tries desperately to ignore it, but 700 years of knocking around the universe have sharpened his monster-detecting senses to a level that cannot be ignored. Thus he is drawn back into Craig’s world, now occupied by his wife Sophie and his baby boy Stormageddon.
Wait…Stormageddon??? Did I say that right? Yes, well, it helps when the Doctor speaks “baby” and Craig can finally get the true name of his offspring straight from the little fiend, er, tyke’s mouth, right? Most of the great humor is split between the translations of what the Alfie/”Stormy” is saying and how the doctor interacts with people in the department store – ground zero for the bad portents that send his Time Lord, Monster-Hunter senses all a tingle. Even the bits on the confidential tied to this episode are priceless as Matt Smith and James Corden stay up way too late due to filming schedules in the department store and get punch-drunk silly – a state that every convention-going fan knows all too well. With a little professionally added 11th Doctor theme music thrown in by Confidential, we are treated to Matt and James playing with Dalek figurines and crooning the Doctor Who theme at the top of their lungs, laughing like the overgrown fan boys we have all come to adore so. Ahhh…one of my favorite Time Lords is just a big kid. Life is good.
Another part I almost forgot to mention was the whole “companion” agenda. Russel T. Davies was always accused of having his “gay agenda” – inserting scenes and references here and there, making it a legitimate part of the Doctor Who universe. Heck, he even had the first ever occurence of a man kissing the Time Lord in the form of gorgeous Captain Jack Harkness! Steven Moffat continues this, but in more casual ways…the “fat, thin, gay, anglican marines” reference in “A Good Man Goes to War” and now the firty distraction tactic the Doctor uses on Craig when they first find themselves in the lair of the Cybermen and department store lady who keeps referring to them as a couple when she misunderstands Craig’s reference to being the Doctor’s companion. Pricelessly funny!
Now, for those who tour the ‘net and dare to trowel the turbulent waters of over-critical fandom have seen the pissing and moaning about how “lame” it seemed that the Cybermen got their butts handed to them by the power of “love”. Being a huge fan of the Cybermen, I personally saw no problem with this…they have been defeated by strong emotions before. I point you dear readers to their awesome-tacular return to the new series in Rise of the Cybermen and The Age of Steel circa Tennant’s era. Once the emotion-inhibiting chip was removed, they freaked out at their own sorry state and their heads literally exploded then, too. So what is the problem with Craig overloading their emotion chips in this one? He was designated “Cyber Controller”…he would have had the power to do it!
Despite the humor and the nostalgic squee-fest at seeing the Cybermen again – and a Cybermat – we are again reminded of the Doctor’s date with death and destiny as he waxes morosely on Craig’s couch. Bless Craig – he bolsters the Time Lord up by giving him a pep talk and we at the audience agree with everything he says. The other squees come when the Doctor nicks some Tardis-blue envelopes and Craig gives him a Stetson hat as a parting gift. The stage is set for what we are dreading yet also dying to see – whether the Doctor really, truly dies or not.
As a side ending, we catch up with River Song who is now an official “Doctor” of archaeology. Madam Eye Patch/Kovarian comes a calling with her Silent following, creepy thugs, boasting that the Child of the Tardis always has been and always will be theirs to do their bidding. They encase her in that dreaded, now iconic spacesuit and sink her to the bottom of Lake Silencio to away the coming of the Doctor.
And thus it is left for us to wait another week – just another week to solve a 9-month (for us) long mystery of how our favorite Gallifreyan is going to get out of this.
The usual spoiler warning applies. If you read past this point, it’s your own fault.
This episode’s bad guy is in the form of a Minotaur in a “maze” of 1980’s hotel corridors. In a rare twist, the villain had no choice. The victim of his worshipper’s advancement into technology and leaving of their Old Gods, he is doomed to prowl the endless depths of space while his surroundings pull in “meals” – people with enough faith to provide him with sustenance. And it takes three bodies laid out on the slab before he works out exactly how to defeat the creature.
In the closing days of Series 6 and the Doctor’s life, we are getting royally kicked in the teeth with the emotional weight of the Time Lord’s inescapable fate. As the Doctor Who Confidential imparted to its viewers, this creature draws a parallel to the lonely Gallifreyan in more ways than one. Doomed to wander, with no family left and no friends that can stay more than a life-threatening adventure or two, the Monster and the Doctor both secretly long for an end to their existences. By episode’s end, the Time Lord drops Amy and Rory off back on Earth, gifting them with a flat (apartment) and a hot red car. His explanation to Amy of why their adventures have to end shows the depth of his feelings for them both. To stand over their graves is more than he can bear in this incarnation.
As monsters go, this was a good one for the classic fans of big, hairy, ugly creatures with pointy claws and horns, running down corridors, scaring the crap out of everyone in the Doctor’s company. Every room holds a horror – one for Amy as herself the night she was “the girl who waited”. A child let down by yet another adult – even though he be a mad man in a box, she clearly sees this as the worst night of her life. Even the Doctor gets a room (room “11”, of course) and though the viewer doesn’t see what lies within, whatever it is, he is not surprised in the least. With an accompaniment of a cloister bell, could it be the death of the Tardis? We may never know.
A spoiler-laden review of, “Let’s Kill Hitler” complete with pictures. C’mon…you know you want to!
As I am polishing up my review of the opening episode of Doctor Who’s Series 6, part two, I know people are asking why I didn’t review the finale to part one? I am planning to go back and tidy that loose end up, but since this past Saturday was the premiere of the next part of the season, I didn’t want to wait to review it. It was fantastic, as was the semi-finale episode, “A Good Man Goes to War”, but as with all good intentions, mine of keeping these in order, got sidetracked by real life and timey-wimey circumstances.
Gads, as I read that back, I can hardly keep it straight in my own head, so I know I have probably lost you already. Simple recap, I loved the end of part one (“A Good Man Goes to War”) and the beginning of part two, (“Let’s Kill Hitler”), but couldn’t review them in order.
Towards the middle of April, I started getting abdominal pains…not just any old pains, but vicious, nasty ones that were worse than cramps and could not be fixed by my chiropractor. After doctor’s visits that proved unrevealing, I ended up in the emergency room at Encino hospital one Saturday night where they did a CAT scan and declared that I had a hernia right in the area of the umbilical, hence the new phrase “umbilical hernia” entered unwelcome into my life. It has to be operated on, was another very unwelcome phrase (though I can think of worse..the “C” word, for instance). I am 48 and have never had any type of surgery in my entire life. That record was about to be blown to hell.
While slogging through the bureaucracy of one of our nation’s wonderful HMO systems, the pain got worse and my freedom to go where I wanted to (shoppingin L.A.’s fabric district) and needed to (work), became impossible. Finally, after the medical group losing paperwork and a month or two of delay, the date was set and a week ago last Thursday, I had my surgery.
It’s been hell; I’ll spare you most of the details, as every man and woman on the planet has already had at least one surgery by the time they reach my age. Time, which is often against us, has gratefully put many days between that day and today and I am mostly healed, though I am dreading Wednesday when I get my stitches out…another painful procedure they tell me…right along with how low my pain tolerance is and how they had to drug me more as I woke up during surgery and woke up in recovery in horrific pain I do not wish on my most hated enemy. Writing this may be a way of ignore this looming date of stitch removal, but it is also something I need to get out of my system in the telling.
So, enough of real life…screw it and it’s mother…let’s get on to better things steeped in whimsical fantasy and science fiction in a world held dear and precious in our household and in my heart…the world of Doctor Who…
Big Finish has announced a special CD bringing a host of former Doctor Who companions together. The Fifth Doctor meets up with his distant past – the schoolteacher who settled down, the space pilot who became a King, the security agent who died and lived again and the swinging Sixties secretary who has made her own way in the world.
As might be inferred from the description, the story will star Peter Davison as the Doctor, with guest stars William Russell (Ian Chesterton), Sarah Sutton (Nyssa), Peter Purves (Steven Taylor), Jean Marsh (Sara Kingdom), Anneke Wills (Polly).
The story is written by Eddie Robson, and will also feature the vocal talents of Nick Briggs as the Daleks, and Dan Starkey as the Sontarans.
Recording kicked off on 12th May, with the CD expected to be released in December as a free special exclusively for subscribers to the main Doctor Who range at that time, with the option for future annual subscribers to select it as their free extra.
Courtesy of the guarian.co.uk website this morning: Doctor Who: Leave your questions for Neil Gaiman. On Monday afternoon Neil Gaiman, who wrote this weekend’s episode of Doctor Who, will be here to answer your questions today at 4:00 pm about the episode.
“The Doctor’s Wife”, or “The Mad Woman who IS the Box”
The beauty that is the essence of Doctor Who was reflected in this episode last night. “The Doctor’s Wife”, written by Neil Gaiman is hands down the best episode of Season 6 so far. Not just a personal opinion…you don’t have to look far on the internet to see it as a universal consensus on Facebook, Twitter, LiveJournal and well, everywhere! Fans are lauding this episode and with damn good reason.
It is impossible to convey the appropriate enthusiasm The Doctor’s Wife so richly deserves without getting spoilery, so if you haven’t seen the episode yet, get off the ‘net RIGHT NOW and go see it. I refuse to dampen my high spirits coming off seeing it, so read on at your own risk.
If you have been starved for magic this season so far, you, like many of us, have probably had a vague dissatisfaction with the past three episodes, but wasn’t sure where the feeling was coming from or even indeed why. I believe last night rammed it home for fans.
While in many ways Doctor Who is a story about the companions, the “strays” he “brings home”, we rarely get such a satisfying peek into the relationship between the Mad Man and his box. Old school Who fans know the Doctor stole the “magic box”, his TARDIS, but we have NEVER been privy to the other side of the story until now. How the “magic box” stole the Doctor. How it wanted to see the universe as badly as its pilot. With the many classical Doctor Who themes crammed into this episode – fear, a villain to fight, the Doctor’s need to be forgiven for wiping out his own people, the one that will absolutely bring you to tears is the centuries-long love and bond shared between a Timelord and one who shares his adventures and keeps him safe throughout all his lives.
Thank you so very much, Neil Gaiman and Steven Moffatt, for sharing that with us.
Review of “The Impossible Astronaut”
There were so many reviews the morning after the Season 6 premiere of Doctor who, they made my head spin. I don’t see much sense in a thousand reviews and reading them all unless people caught something different that someone else will then read and go, “Oh wow, I hadn’t thought of that.”, so that is what I attempt to bring you in this review.
Yes, it was definitely visually gorgeous and epic looking, no doubt about that. It’s a nice change to the regular scenery and things do need a shake up/mix up ever so often. Living in America, I love seeing the British countryside, but it really does show how far the series has come that the BBC let them do a romp in America.
The dedication card to Lis Sladen made us all tear up in our house. Yes, Nick Courtney deserves one as well, but Lis’s has been the most recent death. There might be another dedication to Nick in a future episode they had already put in the can. Guess we’ll see.
There are no River haters in our house and Stormcage going to alert because she is merely packing elicited the first, biggest laugh of the evening and rightly so. It got even a bigger giggle than the Doctor being in the buff, under a lady’s skirts, (though it was a close second).
Something that struck me the morning after (a lot of speculation was expanded aggressively in the discussions between the eight of us after the episode ended) was that since River’s timeline is running backwards, everything we have seen her do she hasn’t done yet in relation to her current self in this current episode, THEREFORE, she has broken out of Stormcage a few more times that we haven’t even seen yet. Ah, what a lady!
I know rule two is supposed to be that Moffat lies, but I have yet to recall a case of when he actually DOES LIE, but if anyone knows of a case when he does AND CAN QUOTE IT FROM AN ACUTAL INTERVIEW (proof, heavens!), please tell me. It is entirely possible that he does, somewhere. Remembering all the insane speculation last year of how in the world the Doctor would get out of the Pandorica and how would River get out of an exploding TARDIS and how would they bring Rory back and Amy back to life, in the end, it was a simple case of Moffat’s mind being three steps ahead and to the side of everyone else’s. He brought in elements we hadn’t seen yet (i.e. the Doctor’s future self, bringing it to our attention that the Pandorica box keeps you alive and/or in stasis, etc.). Again, he probably has much simpler explanations for the things that are baffling us at the moment in this new season (how does the Doctor get out of the inevitability of his own death, who is in the astronaut suit, what the heck does a little girl have to do with ANYTHING, etc.).
And yes, why in the world does he say, “I’m sorry”? Was it his fault his companions were put in the position of watching him die? It’s going kill us waiting to find out!!!
Sometimes a line is just a line, and personally I think River saying “Of course not” will be an innocent, sarcastic line until proven guilty in a later episode. It didn’t strike any of us that it was anything more than that. There is already too much to question in the episode and my brain can’t crowbar in another question at this point. The line didn’t ring much in the way of warning bells, or at least not as much as other things, surely.
Someone on Live Journal asked if River knew about the Doctor’s death and inability to regenerate before it happened. She’s upset, slaps his younger self over it, tells him it’s “cruel, even by your standards”, but I doubt she knows how this situation is going to pan out. She is flirty and funny about the “spoilers” she does know, but she treats this completely differently. One thing is certain, however, since again, her timeline is running backwards to the Doctor’s, she HAS already seen him alive and older than he currently is at 903. Whether those future-yet-past-now-for-her encounters are within the 200 years between his present self and dead self, is anyone’s – maybe even River Song’s – guess.
While it has been fun to speculate, I have to admit I am very much a gut-feeling gal and judge the success of an episode on the merits of how it made me feel, not so much how outwardly exciting or splashy-looking it was. I watched The 11th Hour a zillion times for the magic and tingly feeling and emotional joy and wonder the outward excitement gave me. I felt no such feeling with this episode during the first two times I watched it. I watched it a second time to get all the things I missed the first time, but I did not watch it because it stirred up any feelings of wonder, magic and/or fear or excitement.
The bombardment of questions Moffat throws into this episode overwhelms the Doctor’s death in the end. Not enough time was given to that momentous event. It was treated as a quick, let’s-get-this-out-of-the-way-so-we-can-tell-the-story event, which is a travesty beyond travesties. I am not asking for a full episode of mourning over his passing, but even Amy’s shock and reaction at losing Rory to the time crack was treated with better respect than this! There was precious little of Murray Gold’s beautiful musical accompaniment, compared to the “Sad Man with a Box” moment he and the sleeping Amelia Pond had before he sacrificed himself to the crack in her wall. The Viking style funeral was nice, but not even a line from any of the characters about how inappropriate it was that a man who wanders the fourth dimension should not be buried in space, sent into the heart of a sun. And for some reason, I can clearly picture Rory of all people bringing this point up!
There are some moments which I did love, of course. The intensity of the scene when the Doctor is asking his companions what is going on and getting no answers. Alex Kingston plays the best poker fac I have ever seen on a being – human or otherwise! We didn’t expect the Doctor to walk into the diner and we probably should have. That DID have the proper and fun amount of WTF is going on-ness about it, along with the humor of River slapping him. Ah, relationships and their bumps and turns. Not even a Time Lord is immune to them! It is nice that for once that the audience is in on the secret. Maybe Moffat hopes that humor like that and hiding under a skirt will balance out the over-abundance of questions. Sadly, in the end, it just doesn’t quite do it for me to the degree I was wanting it to.
The creatures are a good and proper scary Doctor Who monster. There is something especially sick and weird about those above ground running around in a Men in Black suit, as if their heads and hands are concealed behind a perception filter to most everyone else. The ones scuttling around underground are like cockroaches in the dark. You don’t want roaches in your kitchen, so you tell yourself they are so scary and fast that they aren’t really there – hence the forgetting them. “Out of sight, out of mind,” taken to the nth degree.
Yes, there is too much going on…so much that I don’t have time nor the desire to nit-pick the rest of the episode. I plan to give it a few more days and watch it again and hopefully it will grow on me, but the fact I didn’t love it from the get-go is worrying. Moffat forgets that we don’t have Time Lord brains and that when juggling a hundred questions at once does not make for the best story it could be – yet.