Category: part 2


Ignoring the fact that I’m in the midst of writing a two part post on why Moffat isn’t good, I really quite loved The Name of the Doctor.  We actually learn who Clara is and we get a cool set up for the 50th anniversary episode, but more on that later.

For the first time since the midway point of series 6, Moffat has figured out how to write a really solid 45 or so minute long episode.  But really this is a set up for the anniversary, so he basically wrote part 1 of 2, going back to

I know Clara, the coat is too much to handle

I know Clara, the coat is too much to handle

the point that the series needs two part stories.  Another first is Strax didn’t annoy me to tears and the rest of that gang were actually well used.  Yet another  first, River Song actually had a point beyond just saying “hello sweetie” or “spoilers” (spoilers is still said as is sweetie, but it makes sense and isn’t forced, it’s actually kind of touching).  The Doctor has a sentimental moment with River that shows Moffat can still write characters with emotion and personality.  It’s clear these are his two characters, and Matt Smith and Alex Kingston clearly respect these characters.

But what we all want to know, who is Clara?  The episode starts right up with a very cool montage of Clara basically being a guardian of all of the Doctor’s regenerations, and a quick bit of her at Gallifrey before it all went to ruin.  I hope to see more of these sorts of clips in the 50th, as Matt Smith needs to somehow “interact” with his past versions (to see him run along side Tom Baker would be absolutely hilarious and fantastic).  As the story progresses so does Clara’s realization of who she is, and it’s all played very well by Jenna-Louise Coleman, who was pretty much pushed to the side for the last two episodes.

Just an aside, but an important, and actually more than an aside: Moffat needs to stop writing big old sayings that go relatively nowhere.  See, the whole thing about silence falling when the question is asked, well silence doesn’t really fall.  Yeah, it kind of does for maybe thirty seconds, but it’s not nearly as grand as it was hyped to be.  Another area Moffat needs to cool it with is the Doctor being this evil person/god, it’s just getting old and making less sense each time.  But back to the good now, yeah?

Situations have been better for the Doctor

Situations have been better for the Doctor

The Great Intelligence, played yet again by Richard Grant, has become more foreboding and dark, making him (well technically it I suppose) an even better nemesis.  I would have liked to have seen the Great Intelligence bet a little more great and, well intelligent, as it didn’t do much in terms of being clever or smart.  However, its ultimate act of evil is pretty grand and unlike the endings of the past two series, makes sense.  Now, the ending needs talking about, and I’ll try to not include spoilers, but they’ll most likely happen, so you are warned.

POSSIBLE SPOILERS FROM HERE ON, YOU ARE INDEED WARNED

Cool, so we find out the master plan of the Great Intelligence, who Clara is, why/how River is still hanging around, and there’s just one more thing: how is the Doctor going to save Clara?  See, Clara has to do something to save the Doctor that ends up killing her a lot.  So the Doctor decides he needs to save her this time after failing so much before.  When doing so he finds himself facing himself.  Kind of himself that is.  It seems that somewhere in his timeline there is a Doctor that doesn’t do what the Doctor would do, a Doctor that disgraces the title of Doctor (played by John Hurt).  I’m going to be one to jump ahead and say this may very well be the Valeyard.  This would go in tune with the show wanting to have a lot of throwbacks to Classic Who.  However, as a write this there are also reports that Hurt’s Doctor will be the “real” ninth Doctor, which apparently 9, 10, and 11 forgot about because it was too horrible a time during the Time War.  Though, I would also argue, if he is to be one of the Doctor’s regenerations, then he may be an aged version of the eighth Doctor, as he does resemble him, just older.  Actually, in a picture of Hurt on set for the 50th, he looks a bit like a mix of eight and ten.

If we are to have him be the Doctor instead of the Valeyard, then it would be cool if Paul McGann was asked to come back, start off in the Time War and then have something happen to him so that he’d begin to regenerate, but be forced by the Time Lords into some sort of in between regeneration stage, where he has both aged and has a bit of both eight and nine’s personality.  In order to fully regenerate he would then have to finish the Time War.

And let’s not forget, the Doctor does say he’s (Hurt’s Doctor) not the Doctor, or at least he breaks the name of the Doctor.

Regardless, I’m definitely looking forward to the 50th.  This episode has restored some faith in Moffat for me, and if he doesn’t go overboard with a nonsense/complex plot for the 50th, I’ll be looking forward to series 8 (apparently Smith and Coleman will be back for next year and I’m assuming Moffat will as well, unless the 50th is a flop then who knows).  Regardless, this is a great episode, so let’s praise it for bringing the show back into the spotlight before I go on and on about it, as there is a lot to say, but it’s best said by saying to watch it.

Catching up on reviews here, I’ll be going backwards from here to the start of this part of series 7 as if I have not seen the episodes after them.  Cool, so we get to see a bit more of the TARDIS in Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS (Journey for short).  You’re going to hear this a lot from me, but this would have been a cool two parter if for no other reason than to further elaborate on the side characters.  While not overly original, they create a nice human dynamic and if given time could have avoided some rushed dialogue and sometimes one dimensional writing to become a memorable story to themselves.  Despite this, Journey is a pretty good episode.

Ominous stares all about this place

Ominous stares all about this place

The bulk of the episode, or at least the exciting parts, are based around Clara.  She goes all about the TARDIS to various rooms and suspiciously similar miles of corridors.  There’s a nice nod to the often mentioned swimming pool, though I would have liked a glimpse of the kitchen due to the nature of Clara’s character.  Still, we also get some throwback moments to the Classic-Who era to continue the nostalgia factor all about this series.  Most importantly, the TARDIS library gets a visit from Clara, where she finds out some things about the Doctor and his involvement with The Time War that likely no other eyes seen.  To tell the truth, this episode really could have been an awesome two parter due to the extensive nature of the TARDIS.

I quite liked the main threat throughout, from the TARDIS itself (herself?) to the more physical threat chasing our time travelers throughout the ship.  Actually, without giving anything away, the “monsters” chasing them are very dark and somewhat disturbing.  Don’t worry, you’ll see for yourself to judge.

There is one really good scene with the Doctor and Clara where the Doctor confronts her about who she is.  In natural Moffat fashion, nothing is solved, but watching the two characters interact is always fun.  Following this is a kind of rushed ending, but you know, I know, the structure of this series just isn’t very kind to story and character development.

Honestly, I don’t want to give too much away, as this is an episode definitely worth watching.  You get the Doctor being serious and then not and then serious again, but this time it all feels right whereas sometimes it feels forced.  A relatively solid support cast helps add their own dimension to the story, even if it is rushed.  Clara, well, I have not been keeping up on the reviews, but Clara is pretty great.

Basically, if you have yet to watch this episode, please do.  It isn’t the most amazing one ever, but it is still very good.

Nightmare in Silver perfectly sums up what the episode is: a nightmare.  For those who read my review of last week’s episode, you will know I paid little attention to the fact that Neil Gaiman penned the story of Nightmare in Silver.  I was not very fond of the time he wasted killing off Rory in The Doctor’s Wife, and now it is clear he is very good at wasting time and apparently wasting a full episode worth of time.  This review is coming late, as I wanted time to cool off after watching the episode, but it has left me with the same feeling as just finishing the episode.

Look Doctor, Rose isn't the only one who can be an action hero!

Look Doctor, Rose isn’t the only one who can be an action hero!

First off, I’d like to get it out of the way, the kids.  If I wanted to watch people complain about cell phone reception and being bored I’d sooner go over to a computer lab at my college and listen to people complain, at least then I can quietly laugh to myself as I find the one area of the room that has reception.  It’s like these kids couldn’t care less that, I don’t know, they just traveled through space (and likely time) to a distant planet.  I guess it is hard to please children these days.  Of course they get caught and then saved, same old nonsense.  On this topic, I dare anyone reading this to name me an instance in which a movie/show has brought in a kid and they were actually not annoying to no end.

Now, let’s have a look at the Cybermen.  I do like that they’re not this big clunky things we’ve had for so long now.  However, I absolutely hate how they now just have to say upgrade and they’re no longer dead.  It feels like lazy writing just to make them scary, and it turned out to be more annoying than anything.  Seriously, how are they able to upgrade their metal body, which in no way is a computer program that can be patched as they were doing with everything else.  Everything they ended up doing felt awkward and forced just to prove a point that they’re back and they’re going to be scary.

On the plus side, Matt Smith was good as the Doctor, but we have kind of come to expect that at this point, even with the very average writing we’ve had for the majority of series seven.  Though, I wasn’t the biggest fan of the good vs. evil Doctor, but then again, I’m a bit spoiled right now with Tatiana Maslany in Orphan Black and her ability to be not only multiple characters but also be a character impersonating another character that she plays.  But there’s really not much to say against Smith’s acting here, so good job!

Not as much can be said for Jenna-Louise Coleman, or rather for Clara.  Coleman was good despite her character being written differently for every episode just to fit the specific conflict in the episode (much like the often unrealistic writing in Battlestar Galactica).  It was only a few episodes ago that Clara was freaking out over dead bodies in Cold War, yet now she is leading a group of soldiers to go off to war against the Cybermen.  People are falling around her yet she doesn’t seem to take notice or care at all.  For the past two episodes now, Clara has been kind of pushed to the side, coming in only when the writers want her to progress the plot.  This makes her story arc less interesting with every passing week, as we don’t get to see her simply talk with the Doctor and build a relation with him.  Granted, this is also due to cramming big ideas into tiny, forty-five minute episodes, resulting in a lot of things being rushed.  However, next week’s looks to have a much better tone despite the unending aggravation of Strax coming back (seriously, what is the point of him?  It’s like Moffat made it a point to ruin what little interesting bits of the Sontarans existed).

I thought there would only be two episodes I’d definitely never watch again from series seven (Dinosaurs on a Spaceship and The Power of Three) but it seems I can add a third to that list.  By trying to bring back Classic-Who villains (that were never used this often in Classic-Who) they waste an episode trying to reinvent something that has run its course.  Here’s to hoping next week’s is better (as I do like Clara and there have been some episodes with her as the full-time companion that I really do like a lot), even with a title as plain as The Name of the Doctor, which has a very cool prequel clip and trailer, which will be provided below:

Continuing to ignore the fact that every episode this part of series 7 would greatly benefit from being a two parter, The Crimson Horror is a surprisingly enjoyable episode.  I say surprising because I’m not exactly a fan of the Vastra, Jenny, Strax team (mainly Strax, as the character is kind of annoying and makes very little sense, but I guess I’ll have to deal with it).

Image

Part of a brilliantly done flashback montage

See, this episode almost seems like it will be a Doctor-less one, such as we’ve had in the past, notably with the classic episode Blink.  However, the Doctor and Clara do come back into the picture as the story goes on, but before then, Jenny takes center stage.  She’s actually a fun character to follow, though I’m still a bit confused about a particular scene (I don’t think this at all a spoiler) when she basically turns into a ninja and gets some sort of weird, fast motion camera work as she beats up some bad dudes, as I don’t get how she has harnessed the power of the ninja.

The story isn’t particularly amazing, but the setting and atmosphere is noticeably dark and to an extent, disturbing.  I wish there was more time for the heavier themes of human equality, inequality, and perfection to be explored, as the episode has potential to break into long standing social issues, and this may lead to future episodes tackling relevant issues.

I usually come away from a Clara episode thinking how awesome she is and loving her witty comments.  Sadly, there weren’t many of them this week, nor was there much talking from her.  At least what little she said was important to progress the story, and her part in the ending scene finally helps a little to go into her story arc.  Speaking of her arc, are they expecting to explain and wrap it all up in the finale, because I don’t want this to be a 45 minute arc and that’s it.  Also, why doesn’t this Clara make soufflés?  At what point does she start making soufflés?

I digress, back to The Crimson Horror.  I definitely would tell fans to watch it, though it’s not a good one to get people started on, as the ultimate reveal isn’t amazing.  Here the episode relies on the strong acting from the cast, which doesn’t disappoint, and there is a nice lack of goofiness by the Doctor.  I say nice because the show had an issue for making him too goofy, but it seems they do plan to fulfill the promises of a more serious Doctor.  Plus, it makes his witty comments more enjoyable, especially during more serious moments when he breaks out some sarcasm.

Next week we get Nightmare in Silver, and I don’t care that it is written by Neil Gaiman, I have my doubts (a. Cybermen aren’t overly exciting and more importantly, b. the trailer confirms there will be kids in it, and as we know from nearly every movie with kids, they’ll try their hardest to ruin it).  Still, here’s the trailer and I will be catching up with reviews on previous episodes from this season, that is after watching The Crimson Horror again.

rings of akhaten doctor who

Really Awesome

Is this what the wait for the rest of season 7 has been for?  I really hope not.  Let’s get talking, shall we? (Oh, there will be spoilers)

So, episode two of this half of the season isn’t exactly what I would call good.  In fact, the majority of the episode was nothing short of awful.  I had hoped we’d gotten past the really bad episodes with Dinosaurs on a Spaceship and The Power of Three, but sadly I have been proven wrong.

The beginning of the episode with Clara’s parents and the leaf was actually kind of cool and helped add some emotional impact to this version of Clara.  However, outside of that the story went nowhere good.  She and the Doctor end up on an alien world looking down on some really spectacular space CGI.  Then they go to another part of the planet to take a visit to the Cantina (I’m not exactly sure if where they were had a specific name, but it was basically the Star Wars Cantina).  Even from there it seemed like there was some hope when Clara started talking to the Queen of Years (a little girl named Mary was chosen to be the queen, not quite sure why).  It was a nice little scene, as it continues to show Clara has a motherly inclination to her (this probably is important, just as important as the Doctor referencing his granddaughter I’d say).  But then it all goes to pieces.

Apparently the Queen (and presumably King) have to sing a being to sleep every thousand years, or he will eat the soul of the Queen (again, not quite sure why).  Naturally, something goes wrong and the being wakes up, but not before the Queen is teleported to the being and the Doctor and Clara somehow learn to breathe in space (yeah, I know).  So of course the Queen doesn’t die because she’s a little girl and that would not fly.  Eventually the being breaks out of its nifty glass cage and proceeds to be illuminated by a bright light and die (makes sense, right?).  So what is the natural order of progression here?  The sun, yes that’s right, the sun, ends up being the evil force controlling the now dead being (I guess he’s the middleman so the sun can sleep) and decides it wants to be a sun with a face.  Yes, a face, with the eyes, nose, mouth, all of it (to be fair, they treat the sun as a god so the face may be why, and apparently it’s a parasite of sorts, but again, not quite sure why/how).  At this point I’d like to note that if this were done in Classic Who, I imagine they’d at least make an effort to explain anything that’s going on right now, but then again they didn’t have a deranged Steven Moffat who wants to cram everything into a very small time frame or is off doing Sherlock or writing something else (no wonder DW is losing quality control these days, which is kind of sad considering how good Matt Smith can be and Jenna-Louise Coleman is quickly showing signs of becoming my favorite New-Who companion).

The Doctor then goes on a nice speech to the sun how he is all full of memories with pain and loss and love and happiness (you get the point, oh, the Time War was brought up again, I assume to prep us for the 1oth Doctor’s return, as he liked to go on about it a lot) and the sun starts to consume the memories (by the way, the soul is code for memories) but it just isn’t enough to fill its appetite.  So what does Clara do?  Well, for starters she figures out how to fly a space moped and then gives up her leaf for the sun, because we all know that what could have been offers an infinite amount of memories, which is why it is puzzling why she didn’t give up the book of things she wants to do, which likely contains the memories of her and her mother of things that could have been, but whatever, at this point it doesn’t matter.

And well, this isn't really awesome

And well, this isn’t really awesome

So, here’s what gets me the most: the Doctor, yet again, likely kills a ton of innocent people since the sun ate too much and then somehow disappeared, hence no gravitational pull from the sun, and I’d assume the fall of those planets out of orbit (still, was that as bad as blowing up humans on the spaceships in The Power of Three?).

Also, there’s a lot of filler in terms of singing, which I get is important for this story, but it really felt like filler, especially since the Doctor was barely in the episode (perhaps he was needed to film another episode).

I don’t exactly remember how the episode ended, but I do know Clara was given back her mother’s ring she had to give up to buy the space moped.  I liked this part because it brought the episode back to Clara, who is, oh I don’t know, the current story arc that is supposed to wrap up in the next six episodes, and with next week’s episode it doesn’t look like anyone will be addressing that arc soon.  On the bright side, next week’s episode looks to be a lot better and last week’s was also very good (I’ll probably be reviewing it during the week).

So, what do I rate this episode?  It hurts me to do this, but I can’t be kind just because I’m a huge DW fan (actually, that gives me more of a reason to be critical) but The Rings of Akhaten gets a very poor: 5/10

I liked the dialogue between the Doctor and Clara, but the rest was just plain bad.