Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) – Enjoyable but Weakest of the New Trilogy

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      ‘The Rise of Skywalker” is a mess with a ton of flaws and is easily the weakest out of all the new Trilogy. I felt that the things that were strong helped elevate the mess enough to the point that it still managed to be an enjoyable film, even though I hate how derivative it is of “Return of the Jedi.” A lot of my fears about Abrams return were certainly validated in this film but due to actor performances and character relationships that really made it work for me, as extremely flawed as it is.

The film was directed by J.J. Abrams who co-wrote the film along with Chris Terrio.

The story picks up a few years later with Leia training Rey as a Jedi as Kylo Ren finds Emperor Palpatine alive with his hidden fleet. From here it is a race against time as our heroes must stop Palpatine and Kylo Ren before they conquer the galaxy.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros:

The Soundtrack – John Williams is once again showing why he heads this series. He is once against the master of his craft here. I will definitely be listening to this soundtrack again and all his work with the prior films.

The Action – The action is good but nothing stands out like the fights in the prior film. There is emotional resonance to some of the action, specifically anytime Rey and Kylo fight one another. This film is primarily action though so it had to be at least serviceable. In that I’d say it succeeds but it isn’t as good as the action in “The Force Awakens” or “The Last Jedi.”

The Core Characters – The core characters are what makes this film work, even though I disagreed with some of the character choices done with them. For the characters I feel like were the strongest I’ll be going into more depth below as it was really these characters that made the film work enough for me in the end.

Poe – Poe takes up the leadership role that was left in the last film as we see him leading the Resistance after Leia’s death. He is made more like Han Solo in this film (which annoyed me) but I liked us seeing him clash with Rey. Both are headstrong so it’d make sense they’d clash. It also got away from shipping them, which I appreciated. Oscar Issac’s is of course wonderful as always.

Finn – John Boyega is one of the strongest of all the new actors and that is once again demonstrated here. Here we get hints that Finn might have the force (he senses things, especially when Rey is in trouble). I wish this could have been explored further, but I did enjoy him playing such a key role in the final battle and fully embracing his role as a member of the rebellion. He even meets a former stormtrooper in this who he forms a friendship with. He is my favorite of the new characters besides Kylo Ren / Ben Solo and I would like to see what is done with him in the future.

Leia Organa – Leia finishes Rey’s training from the unused footage from prior films. It worked for me and I like that her last act was reaching out to Ben Solo so he could return to the light. It was strong and you see that Rey’s healing in the force probably came from Leia’s training. R.I.P. Carrie Fisher. I’m glad we got to know her more in this. One of the strongest scenes is when Luke tells Rey that when Leia finishes her training from Luke she realizes what becoming a Jedi will do to her son. The consequence of having the power is recognized and I like how that shaped her and made her choose to stay the politician and general instead.

Kylo Ren / Ben Solo – Ben Solo’s arc is the biggest re-tread of prior films but it is also one of the things that works most about the film. In this it is in the act of Rey healing him and his mom reaching out to him with the last of her life force that change him to the light. After this he speaks to Han in his memory before casting away his red lightsaber. Adam Driver is acting the hell out of this film and he is a huge reason the film works. His redemption story is predictable but the way Kylo versus Ben carry themselves is noticeable and the steps to the transformation are rushed but worked. It was that heart of the film that I really felt anything and I appreciate that Ben dies to save Rey. It brings the story full circle and makes him the most developed character in the entire series.

The Cons:

Knights of Ren – The Knights of Ren show up and have no payoff. They don’t feel like a threat. Phasma did more and I felt like she wasn’t fully utilized or explored. We don’t learn anything about them and they have no interaction with Kylo beyond being enforcers and fighting him at the end. They are missed potential in a big way and could have been worthy foes.

Palpatine and his Plan – We never lean how Palpatine survived “Return of the Jedi” except that the Dark Side cult is probably tied to the reasons and maybe he did have a contingency like his hidden fleet with Death Star weapons. Ian McDiarmid is of course amazing in the role, but his existence is just a re-treated of “Return of the Jedi” as we never get what his plan was for the First Order, since he created Snoke.

Rey’s Origin – I wish Rey’s parents had been nobody. Her being a Palpatine makes this universe so small, with everyone being related to everyone. Plus it is hard to imagine someone who wants to live forever (Palpatine) ever having a kid. In the prequels and original Trilogy he shows no interest in romance or sex at all. So her origin story becomes nonsensical and meaningless. She’d have fought Palpatine anyway regardless of her bloodline so it changes nothing.

Force Bloodlines and Return of the Prequel Problems – Rey being a Palpatine and Ben being a Skywalker bring back the prequel problem of the force and bloodlines, when it looked like the “The Force Awakens” and “The Last Jedi” were trying to get away from that. Leaning all in just elevated the problem of the origin story in the first place and takes away the mystique of the force. I hated in the prequels and I hate it once again here.

This film is a mess and I do wish they’d been more original than re-treading “Return of the Jedi.” If you are a Star Wars fan chances are you will find something to like, though the things I hated might be a bigger deal for you as well. The Skywalker story is the strongest part of the film (Ben, Luke and Leia) and really what makes the film good. The characters are who carry this frenetic mess and elevate it to an enjoyable experience. If you liked the prior 2 films, you will probably enjoy this one. The flaws are huge and I wish Disney had been more original, but for a Trilogy that only really took risks with “The Last Jedi,” this worked but could have been so much more.

8.6 / 10

Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (2017) – An Amazing Subversion of Expectations

   “The Last Jedi” is my second favorite Star Wars film. This is a series that is second only to “The Empire Strikes Back,” and in many ways has greater depth even though the structure of this film is a bit of a mess. What this film does though is upset the status quo, delve into the reasons the First Order and Resistance have for even existing in the first place and also a much deeper analysis of “The Force” that we haven’t really gotten since the Original Trilogy. Before I get into spoilers, this is a film with the best characters and themes thus far, amazing character development and emotional payoff, amazing action and it is easily the most beautiful of all the Star Wars films. Seriously, check it out.

The film was directed and written by Rian Johnson while being produced by Kathleen Kennedy and Ram Bergman.

The story involves the Resistance attempting to escape from the First Order who are attacking them after the destruction of Starkiller Base, while Rey is seeking Luke’s help in their fight. Things soon get more complicated when the First Order executes a trap that forces members the Resistance to seek outside help  to escape the First Order trap, and a clash within the Resistance itself between Poe and Vice-Admiral Holdo after General Leia is incapacitated.

SPOILERS

The Pros: The Cinematography – This is visually the best looking of any film in the Star Wars franchise. Whether it is the filming of fight sequences in space or within a ship…the camera executes the action beautifully and each planet was somewhere I wanted to return back to after it was done.

The Universe – This Star Wars has quite a few different environments and animals. From the adorable porgs, to crystal foxes, to the salt world of Crait, Luke’s Island and Snoke’s Flagship and a Casino World. I was never bored because there was always more to see as each environment was so rich.

The Reason for Resistance – One of the major themes of the film is the reasons to resist. We see this as a class struggle in regards to oppression through the eyes of kids and Rose, a character we are introduced in this film…and also that personal identity is a huge role too and that finding the balance between them is important. Poe is driven by ego and glory for much of what he does but comes to see that it is bigger than each fight, the war is larger than any one person as the individuals and groups define what it means to resist, just as much as if not more than the personal reasons to fight.

The Cost of War – So many people die in this film. There are lots of heroic sacrifices, but also the people who are being oppressed by those profiting from the war, the deaths of so many soldiers on both sides who die. You feel that in this and it does a good job humanizing both the Resistance and the First Order. War is hell and sometimes no one wins, this film captures that theme beautifully.

The Characters – The characters are the best part of this film. This film is all about relationships between characters, be it Leia and Poe, Rose and Finn, Kylo and Rey or Luke and Rey. Each relationship gets developed over the course of the film and reveals layers to the characters that didn’t exist in “The Force Awakens.”

Vice Admiral Holdo – Holdo is a character who has got a lot of crap from the fanbase, but she was one of my favorite characters in the film. She was respected for winning in the past but Poe doesn’t get that. She is presented as an antagonist through a good portion of the film, and the payoff of who she actually is and what she is doing is great.

Rose and Finn – It is through these characters that we get to see another face of the Resistance and why they fight. Finn is originally a part because of his friends and is even willing to leave in order to protect Rey but Rose reminds him of the bigger picture and that at the core they exist to fight oppression. It is handled on the casino world and seeing their friendship bloom was one of the more memorable parts of this film.

Master Luke Skywalker – Luke is done with everything. Like before in the Original Trilogy guilt defines him and it is mistake that helped lead to Kylo Ren’s creation and that guilt is something he carries with him and resists until the end. He is wanting to destroy the Jedi order and die as the last Jedi until Rey helps him realize there is so much more that he’s forgotten and that he can still make a difference and change things. Mark Hamill is fantastic.

General Leia Organa – I miss Carrie Fisher. It was great seeing her in this, her whole drive is survival and protecting the Resistance from the First Order. She is the mentor who is there to remind the young folks there is a time and place for glory but you have to work to keep everyone alive, or there won’t be anyone else left to fight. This was my favorite presentation of her besides “Empire Strikes Back” and I’ll miss her in these films, now that she’s gone.

Rey and Kylo Ren – One of the core relationships is that between Kylo and Rey both of who are alone and seeking more beyond the old order as so much of who they were was tied to the legends of the past. They are connected but still adversaries and it is great relationship to see explored as Ren becomes more confident and much more of a bully and Rey finds an identity outside of her parents and her expectations of Luke and the Jedi.

Subverting Expectations – If you go in expecting “The Empire Strikes Back” or another version of “Return of the Jedi” or “A New Hope” prepare to be surprised. This is a film where most things don’t work out for any characters. Things change, both in the First Order and the Resistance in regards to their identities…but it doesn’t repeat the cycle. We get away from The Ring Cycle a bit here and from that “Star Wars” seems to finally be developing it’s own identity outside of the past. We also see The Force not being tied to bloodlines and the fantasy feel of the past films and midichlorians are implied to no longer be a factor (Rey’s background and the last scene of the film). I loved that, this is no longer the Skywalker show, Star Wars has to be bigger than one family drama and I can’t wait to see where the series goes.

Everybody Loses – Poe finds out he was wrong, Rose and Finn get betrayed, Rey isn’t able to turn Kylo Ren and even the Resistance only barely survives. The First Order isn’t in great shape either after the events that take place and it is going to be transforming further or it will collapse. That is powerful and with it we see the most potential for change both within the Resistance and the First Order. They’ve lost too much to remain static.

Okay: Welcome to the Casino / Side Quest – This first point is related to the second point, there is a side plot on a casino world in order for Rose and Finn to get a code breaker in order to break onto Snokes’s ship so that they shutdown the Empire’s ability to track the Resistance’s fleet. It explores the meaning of the Resistance so I’m not putting it as a total negative but it could have been shorter and achieved the same purpose in the plot, and I would have traded a few Finn and Rose scenes for more scenes with the codebreaker played by Del Toro named DJ. He is fun.

Structure and Clutter – The greatest issue with this film for me was the structure and how cluttered some of the different plots are. It wasn’t bad, I saw this film twice but it does feel long during some of the side tangents. The overall story and themes greatly overwhelm this in quality though and it didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the film.

This is probably going to be in my Top 5 films at the end of the year. This is a film I’ve watched twice and is easily the most fun I’ve had at a film this year since “Baby Driver.” I can’t wait to see where things go after this film as it upsets so much of the status quo. I am a guy who loves the original Extended Universe and I always will, but I’m glad they didn’t repeat it (and I still enjoy it as another timeline of Star Wars). By the time of “The Force Awakens” I was done with the Skywalker drama, predictability will kill this franchise as so many of the problems that plagued the Prequels was the lazy recycling of the Original Trilogy. This film is strange, different, takes chances and changes things and honestly, it is the only way Star Wars can grow beyond the corner it was written in to. Here is to Disney embracing that change and giving us more great stories like this film.

Final Score: 9.8 / 10. Second best Star Wars film thus far.

 

Get Out (2017): A Brilliant Horror Film That Tackles Racism and Privilege

    “Get Out” is one of my favorite horror movies at this point. This is a film that explores deeper ideas while still giving great moments of tension and horror in turn making it so much more. Whether it is racism, power and privilege, this film has a larger point but also does the tension and horror so well. Non-spoiler thoughts, you really should see this film. If you like horror films are even just smart films, check this one out.

  The film was written, directed and produced by Jordan Peele with the other producers being Jason Blum, Edward H. Hamm Jr. and Sean McKittrick.

     The story involves Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) going up to meet his girlfriend Rose’s (Allison Williams) parents in the suburbs. All is not as it appears to be though as the overly nice of the town underlays a dark secret as the only other African-Americans in the town give him hints of the mystery in their odd behavior.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros: The Idea – The idea reminds me a lot of “The Stepford Wives” and as that film tacked feminism in critiquing the 1950’s housewife and showing the literal patriarchy in how the wives were constructed to be servants. This is done similar with how objectification of African-Americans. I’ll get into how with the reveal and the characters.

The Writing – The writing is smart and shows the dimension to our characters as well as the humor (which is mostly through Jeremy and Chris’s sarcasm). I always enjoyed Jordan Peele’s shorts which did a great job satirizing some segment of society or culture. This time he does it on a cinematic movie scale. Not many writers can tackle racism and privilege in a subtle way, but it is done here beautifully.

The Soundtrack – The soundtrack is fantastic and does a great job and raising the tension throughout the film. Michael Abels did a fantastic job.

The Characters – The characters are the strongest part as they are characters and not ideas, they would have become ideas to carry the message in a lesser writer’s hands.

Chris – Chris drives the story and is photographer trying to get into college. He’s clearly happy in the relationship with Rose but is smart as he notices when things are off and even tries to go (when he doesn’t know what is fully going on just that he is under threat). It is rewarding when he gets back at the family who was going to use his body for one of the older people in the town (which is why the town exists). Kaluuya does an amazing job.

Jeremy – Jeremy is the genre savvy friend who knows something is up the moment Chris goes to town as for him the warning was Rose not telling her family she had a black boyfriend and when Chris describes the town’s odd behavior, especially those of the African-Americans, he thinks they are being used as sex slaves. He’s wrong about the reasons they are acting weird but was right about how off the town was, and in the end he saves Chris. Jones is hilarious in this role as Jeremy is the character who provides the most comedy with his genre savvyness.

Rose – Rose is a great villain! Through most of the film she is the caring girlfriend who doesn’t justify her parents racist statements but things come to a head at the end where we learn she’s the lure who finds the people for the townspeople to use. She is a great threat and almost kills Chris. Williams has quite the acting range as we see her kindness as well as when she is the cold hunter, finding more targets.

The Family – The family is brilliantly creepy as they act like they are trying to help Chris while having a sick undercurrent. Whether it is her angry brother who says Chris could get strong like an animal thanks to his racial genes and the mother hypnotizes him and uses his own smoking addiction against him, and the father who is the collector and intellectual who clearly sees Chris as a thing the entire time.

The Reveal – The reveal is that the town is using people who come to the town (who Rose collects) for their bodies so the older members can live forever. The original host is nearly dead except for their brain stem (which the movie presents as them watching their body being controlled from a distance).

Objectification in Racism – The objectification starts with the family in how Chris is never really talked to, he is talked at (which plays into the privilege part) and extends to how the family and town talk about his body or people like him. It is brought to it’s fullest degree in the fact that Chris is only wanted for what he can give (his body) not the person he is. That is part of what makes racism, racism. Whether it is excoticizing his form or seeing him as something to be exploited. In the end he was only a thing to the town, not a person. He was wanted for his race not his personhood.

The Power of Privilege – Privilege is the assumption of power over another and this is the core of the terror in the film. The town assumes they have a right to Chris and any other black person they bring to the town. It is through their privilege that they believe they have the right over his body and the body of others and rationalization is their justification.

Okay: The Townspeople – The town could have been developed more. They do fall into the horror pitfall of being the toxic sweetness in how they treat Chris, but they are all part of the organization that wants to live forever. It would have been great to see their motivations and the reasons they want to live forever.

   Jordan Peele is truly a great writer and director. This was a film that Blumhouse produced and I’ve honestly never seen a good film from their studio, until this film. It is kind of sad how good horror movies are hard to find. They are generally made on the cheap, are exploitative, usually by their nature and rarely have a deeper point that is illustrated well. “Get Out” manages to avoid all of these pitfalls and in doing so is up there with the original “Halloween” as one of my favorite horror films of all time. Seriously, check this film out.

Final Score: 9.8 / 10 The townspeople could have been developed a bit more.

The 10th Doctor – Series 2, Episode 2 – “New Earth” – The Value of Life and Personhood

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   “New Earth” is an episode with a lot of good ideas and character moments, but can’t seem to know what tone it wants to take, which brings it down. It is still a good episode and one I would definitely recommend. You get to know Tennant’s 10th Doctor more and see how Rose and 10’s relationship is becoming more romantic than friendship. It also has a great appearance by Cassandra and a cameo by The Face of Boe and tries to deal with the issues of personhood and life.

    The episode was directed by James Hawes and written by Russell T. Davies.

   The story involves the Doctor taking Rose to New Earth but things are not as they appear as they find a darker underbelly to Paradise and an old enemy Cassandra returns to get revenge on Rose and the Doctor for past wrongs against her.

The Pros: The Comedy – The comedy in this episode is really good, especially the back and forths between the Doctor and Cassandra and Rose and Cassandra and when Cassandra is in their bodies…her sexualization of Tennant and deciding she likes it is hilarious as well as her finding the good in being in a “commoner” body when she inhabits Rose.

Chip – Chip is Cassandra’s Igor, a slave that is completely devoted to her well being. Sean Gallagher does a wonderful job in this role as a character who is vulnerable, devoted and also deadly when he needs to be. His death means something too as he is able to give Cassandra her one happy memory. I wish his character had been given the chance to create an identity beyond her though.

Cassandra – Cassandra (the “Last Human” living in stretched out Skin from last season) has an arc in this, the arc is learning to see outside herself and it takes her a long time to get there…from letting out the plague Clones that are used to create the cures by the Sisterhood and jumping between Rose, the Doctor and a plague victim’s body she eventually comes to see just how alone she is which finally forces her into Chip and her last act of giving herself her happiest memory and dying with peace in the arms of the woman she used to be before she lost her body.

Rose – Rose doesn’t do much this episode but what she does is better than her in Series 1. She is no longer the victim and is fighting to save both the plague victims, herself and the Doctor even as Cassandra takes control of her at multiple points. This episode really shows how she has come into her own as a companion after her time with the Doctor’s 9th Incarnation. “The Christmas Invasion” she didn’t do much…it was all the Doctor saving the day. Billie Piper also does a fantastic job playing Cassandra and Rose. She really does have a lot of range when given the chance.

The Doctor – The Doctor is all about the value of life in this and everything he does is to protect it. From the plague victims, to the people being treated in the other wards and even the Sisterhood all he does is to protect everyone. We also see his drive for justice as he offers to get a Cassandra a body but she must stand trial for her crimes. This doesn’t stop him from being compassionate though as he gives Cassandra a final moment with her past self. It is a moment of forgiveness that you don’t really see all that much from this Doctor who is still reeling from the Time War. The Doctor also has a vain moment where he checks his after Cassandra possessing Rose makes out with him, it’s pretty brilliant and shows how the Doctor can be pretty vain. David Tennant of course is always brilliant as the Doctor.

Sentience and the Value of Life – The plague victims were clones created by the Sisterhood in order to cure the humans who arrived on their world. They saw it as the most efficient way to do so as they saw creations as things that were not sentient. The Doctor and Rose are the answer to this and advocate and heal the victims of their wrongs leading to the Sisterhood being imprisoned. A dilemma is presented on the value of life but not really explored fully, though what the victims are going through and how they are raised shows that even if there is nothing in the mind but survival every blank slate can feel and grow since no person is fully a blank slate. As long as thought and feeling are there and it is alive, it is valuable life.

Okay: The Doctor Saves – The Doctor saves everyone using all the cures made from the victims. It is the Doctor Triumphant but clashes with the tone of death surrounding the episode. For this reason it was hard to fully enjoy as it felt a bit too happy, contrived and forced…which will bring me to the Sisters of Plentitude late.

The Face of Boe – Makes an appearance but doesn’t really do anything. He was pretty much just there to come again later and to be reminded of the value of life by the Doctor and to remind us the Doctor is the last of the Time Lords. The last of (enter species here) is a theme of the episode as we see Cassandra as the last of the people from her era pass, the Face of Boe leave and of course the fact that we are traveling with the Doctor.

The Cons: Tone – The tone is all over the place, we get some great humorous moments when Cassandra is possessing bodies but we also have human experimentation in the humans created to be lab rats and slavery via Chip…these ideas are brushed over for humor and we never get to see the issues explored.

Sisters of Plenitude – Contrived, forced and don’t feel fully fleshed out. Theses aliens feel like Russell T. Davies had an idea of cats, nuns and aliens and decided to combine them all together with no idea of how their civilization, culture or history actually works. They enemies just because they don’t understand humans? Was he thinking that cats are sociopaths so make a species like that? I have no idea where Davies was going with this enemy but they are weak, which is a problem for most of his original aliens.

The Russell T. Davies Alien Problem – The Judoons, Slitheen and countless others feel like ideas and not species. We don’t really get their motivation as they are one dimensional archtypes and the Sisters of Plenitude are no different. This is a major problem Russell T. Davies has and I’m going to make this a post in my reviews whenever it comes up. The Sisters are thrown together as a jab at anti-authority for the sake of anti-authority and present a false dilemma meant to show that they are just cruel sociopaths obsessed with order and keeping the status quo. Was not impressed at all.

   This was a fun adventure and I liked a lot of the ideas it presented even though the Sisters of Plenitude are a terrible antagonist…at least Cassandra got fleshed out more and got an arc before she went away (which is more than can be said in regards to some enemies during the Matt Smith Era). It is better than “The Christmas Invasion” for sure and I appreciate how Rose and the Doctor’s relationship develops this episode, even though it does have some story problems that keep it from being great.

Final Score: 8.2 / 10

12 Days of Doctors – The 10th Doctor – Series 2, Episode 1 – “The Christmas Invasion” – The Doctor as a Super Hero

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We continue 12 Days of Doctors in the count up to 12th’s first adventure with David Tennant as the 10th Doctor in his first Adventure “The Christmas Invasion.” David Tennant was my first Doctor and the Doctor who got me into both the current series and Classic Series because of how masterfully he played the Time Lord of the Doctor. He also has some of the best arcs this season, especially in Series 3 which has the most solid arc in the series thus far in my opinion.

The writer for this episode is Russell T. Davies and the director is James Hawes.

The story is that the Doctor is dealing with his new regeneration as the Sycorax attack Earth on Christmas in order to conquer Earth. From here it is up to Rose, Mickey, Jackie and the Prime Minister Harriet Jones to deal with this new threat as the Doctor is out of commission going through the cost of having just regenerated.

Doctor and Companions

Here is the assessment of the episode:

The Pros: The 10th Doctor / The Tenth Doctor – For an episode about us meeting the new Doctor, we don’t actually spend that much time with him, since he is out of commission finishing the regeneration for most of it. When we do see him and who he is, which is mostly at the end it is a man who is arrogant (destroys the Prime Minister for defending Earth), kind (defense of humanity) and savvy (he uses “Lion King” to describe humanity’s potential). He is also the youngest looking of the Doctors up to this point and has the youthful energy of a younger man. David Tennant owns this role, but the problem is how he is written, which I’ll go into later. It is really here where the Doctor as a super hero who doesn’t need help to save the day really starts to show…which carries on in the series and later with the 11th Doctor.

Rose Tyler – Rose is good in this but the writers don’t give her much to do. Most of her arc is accepting this new Doctor as the Doctor, which is important but she doesn’t get to fight the Sycorax and only stalls for time for the tea to take affect (which she doesn’t even realize it’s doing).

Prime Minister Harriet Jones – Reveals the darker side of the Doctor after she destroys the Sycorax ship at the end. Which it makes sense why she does, as she tells the Doctor, “Your not always around and we need to be able to defend ourselves.” The Doctor rewards that with getting her fired leading to the rise of a powerful enemy later in the series. Thanks a lot Ten. She is an awesome character, and the only human with any agency.

Torchwood – They lost a third of their men we hear but they still manage to destroy the Sycorax ship in retaliation for the innocents killed and the fact that the Sycorax are space orc thugs.

Okay: The Minor Companions – Jackie and Mickey are there getting used to the new Doctor. Their roles are similar to their first appearance as the reasons to get Rose to stay. Mickey has some great moments with her as does her mother since it is nearly Christmas, but they don’t get nearly enough exploration as they deserved, which is strange since the Doctor is out of commission for most of the episode.

Cons: The Sycorax – These guys are space orcs. Both in design (skulls and capes) and intent (enslavement of the human race). Why the Doctor expects them to respect their word is beyond me, given their leader goes back on it and tries to kill him during the Fight for Honor at the end. These guys never show up again, which I think is good. They are a weak concept and there is nothing unique about them. They are mindless baddies just out for conquest with a lazy design.

The Doctor as a Super Hero – This is a trend I can’t stand that was especially prevelant in Matt Smith’s time as the 11th Doctor, but really starts here. There are all these human characters, but the only one who can save the day is the Doctor. So we see humanity getting schooled by the aliens up until the Doctor wakes up and when they do stand up he shuts them down. Our hero, ladies and gentlemen. I’m saying this as a fan of the Tenth Doctor too, he was my first Doctor and David Tennant is fantastic, it is just how he is used which is the problem. The Doctor always works best when he needs to be rescued, when he’s a Time Lord not Superman. This episode and some others, he is Superman and it is a trend that hurts the story further down the line, that really starts here in the new series.

I would recommend this episode nonetheless, it is a great introduction to the 10th Doctor (my Doctor) and also a fun adventure, even if the Doctor is way too overpowered and the villains are pretty lame. It at least establishes Torchwood and humanity as able to fight back…which we haven’t really seen since UNIT has yet to appear in this series.

Final Score is 7.8 / 10

11th Doctor

12 Days of Doctors – The 9th Doctor – Series 1, Episode 1 – “Rose” – The Consequences of the Time War

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We continue 12 Days of Doctors with “Rose” and the first adventure for the 9th Doctor. “Rose” is the episode that brings the Doctor back on the air, this time under direction and show runner of Russell T. Davies. The episode was also written by Russell T. Davies and directed by Keith Boak.

Before I get into the details of the episode, I love it. It has mystery in how the reveal the main premise, and the minor characters are treated with respect (Jackie and Mickey) which makes Rose’s world real that she leaves behind…which we hadn’t seen as much before with past Doctors. Suffice to say, I can see why this series planted the seed that keeps the modern Doctor Who and continuation of the series running to this day.

The story of “Rose” is that Rose is pulled into the Doctor’s world when he arrives on the scene to save her from an attack by Autons (the plastic men from “Spearhead from Space”) who are here to colonize Earth since the Nestene Consciousness’s worlds were destroyed by the Time War that the Doctor fought in. From here the Doctor and Rose must face this threat with each other and Rose tries to make sense of this mysterious stranger and help the Doctor save the day.

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Here is the assessment of the episode:

The Pros: The 9th Doctor / The Ninth Doctor – Christopher Eccleston is like how his Doctor describes things, “Fantastic!” He has a chip on his shoulder from the War (the details of which we learn later in the series) but even here we see how he is trying to write the wrongs of the Time War he fought in, and how impossible it feels for him. He still doesn’t kill as a first resort and though he is standoffish, he is kind. He clearly cares for Rose and for humanity as he defends humanity by their potential to the Nestene Consciousness on why they deserve to live. I know he didn’t stay because of trouble with the Producers and others on the show, but I wish he’d gotten more than a season. The 9th Doctor had the most complete arc, which we see the beginning of here. He is the PTSD Doctor healing from the war, and it is here with Rose that the healing really starts. Without a doubt, one of my favorite Doctors.

Rose Tyler – A controversial companion because of how she is romantically involved with the 10th Doctor later and other things, shows herself a very good companion in her first episode. She saves the Doctor from the Nestene Consciousness and is willing to leave her life behind to go on adventures with the Doctor by the end of the episode, even being in a romantic relationship with Mickey and caring for her mom aren’t enough to keep her there. She also sees the things the Doctor misses, like the Ferris Wheel being the giant device the Nestene needs to control the plastic in the city. Suffice to say, she starts out great! Rose will get her own blog post another time.

The Minor Characters – Mickey her boyfriend is well meaning but kind of oblivious making him a very human character, and he does see the big picture too as he is fine with Rose adventuring with the Doctor. Jackie is the concerned Mom who is single and lonely, but also practical, once Rose’s work get’s destroyed by the Doctor when he is trying to stop the Nestene Consciousness, Jackie is the one trying to help Rose get money and find work.

The Nestene Consciousness – It is great seeing this antagonist again, though the bad CGI was worse than the tentacles that were props used in “Spearhead from Space.” I’ll take real props and models over okay or bad CGI any day. Still a great character though, this creature is a survivor from the Time War and just trying to live. It knows it is more powerful than us so sees it having a right to Earth by that alone. As a desperate refugee you can kind of see how desperation probably lead it to thinking that way. RIP Nestene Consciousnesses of the Time War.

The Consequences of the Time War – The Nestene is the first of the refugees we will meet and shows us for the first time, the Doctor is not all good and has done and been a part of great wrongs…the Time War being one of the greatest of these. Because of these he and the Universe is scarred and episode shows that without explicitly telling us. It is brilliant.

Okay: The Doctor’s Past Regenerations – We see that the Doctor has lived for a long time when a conspiracy theorist shows Rose pictures of the 9th Doctor throughout Time. Sadly there is no reference to the other Doctors, which I think doesn’t help the episode. We get that later, but this time it would have been nice to see that the 9th Doctor was connected to the ones before.

Con: The Special Effects – I’ll stress what I said before, give me models and props over bad CGI anyday. The bad CGI shows in this first season and doesn’t help the case at all. In many ways it limits creativity and the realness of it since the Doctor is just talking to a Green or Blue Screen in the end. If it was good it wouldn’t be so bad, but when there is bad CGI it really stands out.

I recommend this episode for sure. Christopher Eccleston is great as the Doctor, and the episode begins Rose’s arc into self confidence and the Doctor’s healing and dealing with the consequences from the Time War…which is an arc I’ll be covering later and eventually doing an entry about. This is where I think people should start who don’t know about Doctor Who, it introduces you to the world, the Doctor and the adventure as well as setting a few arcs in motion that payoff later in this new series.

My Final Score for this episode is 9 / 10. It is very good.

christopher eccleston Ninth Doctor