Tag Archives: The TARDIS

The 12th Doctor – Series 10, Episode 3 – “Thin Ice” – Bland Villain and Monster Bring Down Good Character Moments

   “Thin Ice” is the first mediocre episode this series. This is an episode that has great character moments with Bill and the Doctor but the support characters, villain and the creature are so boring and unfleshed out that it brings down the entire peace. It isn’t a bad episode, as the characters stuff was strong enough to keep me engaged, but it isn’t good by any stretch of the imagination.

    The episode was directed by Bill Anderson and written by Sarah Dollard.

   The story involves the TARDIS transporting the Doctor and Bill to the Thames Frost Fair of 1814. It is here they must unravel the mystery of the creature underneath the Thames as Bill is confronted with a choice that will define her and humanity.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros; The Doctor and Bill’s Relationship – This is an episode where Bill debates with the Doctor his role. She asks if he’s killed and it takes him a long time to say that only when it is one of the last options available…and in it we see the Doctor as a soldier and veteran, while for Bill this is all so new to her as she is faced with these choices for the first time and better understands the danger in the adventure.

The Doctor – The Doctor is great in this in how he expresses that he does what he does to help and safeguard life because he is called to it…by his companion, the TARDIS, or the people they are helping. I saw it as partially him pushing responsibility off himself, but it also helped illustrate how he’s been learning. So much of 10’s trauma was because he got involved and didn’t listen. I think 12 has learned from the past in that way…now lets just see if the writers will keep it consistent.

Bill – Bill is faced with the darkness in humanity in this one…from there hanging out with pickpocketing children, to a racist landowner who is controlling the monster for money. In the end she does what she can to save as many people as possible and trick the villain…and from here we see how the Doctor and the TARDIS make the companions more like them.

Humanity’s Choice – Save the creature and risk human lives…or keep things the way they are and live the guilt of enslaving another being. This was the core dilemma at the end of the episode that turns Bill more into the Doctor as she chooses the second choice and larger moral implications that come with it. All life matters…be it alien or human.

The Cons: The Villain – The villain is a racist landowner exploiting the creature for resources as it has been in his family for generations. He is so bland and uninteresting and easily one of the worst villains to come out of Doctor Who. There was no motivation beyond greed.

The Supporting Cast – There are a bunch of child actors and none of them can act. This usually isn’t smart to do in any film medium and Doctor Who isn’t known for it’s great writing…and young actors usually don’t have the charisma to carry a scene the way an older more experienced actor could have…to make up for the pitfalls in the writing and dialogue.

The Monster – The monster is a giant fish that sounds like a a whale that we never get to fully see. It eats people, so we know it is dangerous…and apparently it’s a native to Earth, but that is all we know. It is there to be rescued and that is it.

   This is a film that is only worth your time if you are a major fan of the show and a completionist. There are way too many 2 Dimensional characters in this episode and even the core concept of the companion being the stand in for humanity could have been explored a lot better. There are some great dialogue and character moments between Bill and the Doctor, but this is a time where that wasn’t enough to bring the episode to good or great.

Final Score: 7 / 10

The 12th Doctor – Series 9, Episode 12 – “Hell Bent” – Of Letting Go, Healing and Adventure

Doctor Who Hell Bent

     I really liked this episode, it is no “Heaven Sent” but it is still a great episode and I was initially furious when I heard a spoiler about a character who returns. Due to how Moffat executes the story though, I’m okay with who he brought back as the character relationships are still phenomenal and we learn a lot about Time Lord Society and a few arcs are brought to a close.

     “Hell Bent” was directed by Rachel Talalay and written by Steven Moffat.

SPOILERS ahead

    The story involves the Doctor’s return to Gallifrey in order to use and confront the Time Lords to bring back Clara from her death in “Face the Raven.” The Doctor must confront his recklessness from this as the consequences spread through time and space.

The Pros: The Doctor’s Past – This episode is full of references to the Doctor’s past. As we learn where he was going to use The Moment in “Day of the Doctor” was his home from “Listen” and that he grew up on the outskirts of Gallifrey and Ashildr makes allusions to him most likely being not fully Time Lord and being part human and that is why he always returns to Earth and can’t stay on Gallifrey and also shows how he could be the Hybrid as well as the Hybrid relationship of Doctor and Companion who together can be forces of good or destruction. These moments are extremely well done. I can’t wait to see the Doctor’s past explored more in the future.

Gallifrey – Gallifrey is strange, mystical and mysterious and I enjoyed how it was handled. For example the Matrix is protected by ghosts and it is also where the TARDIS factory is so that it is always guarded. The Time Lords are also very stratified and we see those who live outside the City, the soldiers and the Time Lord High Council all being detached from one another with those on the outskirts being the closest to the Doctor and the Time Lords and Rassilon being exiled for what they did with the Confession Dial and during the Time War.

Ohila – Ohila is the leader of the Sisterhood of Karn and I’m curious to see what role she plays as she isn’t exiled and she sees destruction in the Doctor’s future. She is worried about the Hybrid and I never got bad intent from her as I did from Rassilon. I think she just wants to protect the Universe and can only do so by calling out the Doctor on his selfishness or using him.

The General – The General is fantastic! Ken Bones plays him at first but after the Doctor shoots him he regenerates into T’Nia Miller and we see her doing everything to protect her men and stop the Doctor. She is the leader of Gallifrey at this point since the Doctor ran away again. I could see her being a Javert role to capture Clara to bring her back to the moment of her death of Clara and Me have a spin-off series.

Sisterhood of Karn – The Sisterhood makes an appearance and are pretty much on equal footing with the Time Lords showing that they are a pretty powerful organization.

Ashildr/Me – Ashildr has grown in wisdom and by the end of the Universe she is there calling the Doctor out for denying Clara her choice to die and for not letting her go. She is the one who has embraced her role as an immortal, though in the end she gets her wish of exploring all of space and time as the TARDIS the Doctor stole is used by her and Clara to see the Universe on their way back to Gallifrey for Clara’s eventual moment of death from the Raven.

Clara – Clara has agency Donna was never given and I love that she calls the Doctor out on attempting to steal her agency, both with her death and later when he was going to try and wipe her memories of him. Instead they do it random and both take the risk and she watches the Doctor lose all memories of her making it possible for him to move on and for their self destructive relationship to end. She fully becomes the Doctor at this point as the Doctor was her companion and with Ashildr they travel in the new stolen TARDIS on their way back to Gallifrey and her death.

Letting Go – This episode continues the process of letting go and that began in “Heaven Sent.” Here we see how toxic it is not to let go as the Doctor is willing to risk all of time and space for Clara and in the end will lose everything because he is so attached and would even take her agency. He realizes this and gives up his memories of her in the end, stopping their relationship from destroying everything and fulfilling the Hybrid prophecy and most likely Missy’s end designs on where their relationship would go. It’s sad and powerful but we see the Doctor grow and become the Doctor once more.

The Doctor – This episode is all about the Doctor letting go and healing and we see him let go in one of the hardest ways possible, he loses all memory of Clara in order to save them both. It’s powerful and we see just how destructive their attachment to each other is and it is when the Doctor finally realizes that and lets go of those memories and forgets that we see him begin to heal and ends it with a new Sonic Screwdriver as he returns to his role as a Doctor.

The Cons: Rassilon – Donald Sumpter does alright but his Rassilon is never threatening. For someone who was able to use the Master to nearly destroy Earth and save Gallifrey I was pretty underwhelmed. He’s exiled and out there with the High Council now so there is a chance to fix this. I really want to see Rassilon as a threatening threat, haven’t felt that yet in any of the new series episodes.

Should Have Been Two Parts – The Hybrid, Gallifrey, what happened to Rassilon and the consequences of the Time War are never fully explored and that is what could have made this story truly great. Elements of this are there but never fully explored.

This was a great episode, but could have been more. I don’t think Clara should have been brought back but I thought that was handled well…especially with Me playing a role in how things ended. This episode was all about the Doctor and his finally moving on from Clara, which was a huge theme of the season, especially when we see what that attachment is dong to the Universe. The Doctor has always had trouble letting go and the fact that he loses his memory is something that hasn’t been done before, not like this. So I really liked that. There are a lot of stories that are open now because of this episode and in the end it is a great edition to the Whoniverse.

Final Score: 9 / 10. Solidly great.

12 Days of Doctors – The 11th Doctor – Series 5, Episode 1 – “The Eleventh Hour” – The Time Traveler

DW_Eleventh_Hour_Atraxi_eye_through_crack

We continue 12 Days of Doctors with “The Eleventh Hour” the first episode in Series 5 and the introduction of Matt Smith as the 11th Doctor as well as his main companion for this season, Amy Pond. The episode was written by Steven Moffat, who became the showrunner after this point (for better and for worse) and was directed by Adam Smith.

The story of “The Eleventh Hour,” is that the Doctor’s TARDIS is nearly destroyed after his regeneration so he needs to get it fixed and healed up, so he arrives at the home of Amelia Pond where his TARDIS crashes and she helps him heal. They than go to her room where the Crack in Time is and the Atraxi send out a warning that Prisoner Zero has escaped. The Doctor than jumps forward to fix his TARDIS, but jumps forward too far and Amy is no longer a little girl. Together they must stop Prisoner Zero from causing the Atraxi from destroying the Earth as well as re-establishing that he is the same Doctor she met as child and their current relationship.

Doctor and Amy

Here is the assessment of the episode:

The Pros: The 11th Doctor / The Eleventh Doctor – Matt Smith is the Peter Pan Doctor, he is the Doctor who will whisk you away from reality and takes joy in the little things, and also the one who is openly pretty full of himself and confident, as well as oblivious. It is thanks to Amy Pond that he survives his regeneration when he is trying to find his footing and how Prisoner Zero is defeated. He has eccentricities and also has some of the Tenth Doctor’s savvy, though he is much more of the child-like Doctor than David Tennant’s as everything is extreme with him, and he is earnest, even when he lies…which he does a lot. Matt Smith definitely deserves his place among the Doctors and is one of the most joyful to watch.

Amelia Pond / Amy Pond – We see Amy when she is a little girl, alone in her house with a haunting crack in her wall, and grown up when she’s a kiss a gram with a boyfriend. After watching this episode, I think some of the criticism against her character isn’t as deserved. She is Independent, to the point that she takes action when her boyfriend Rory does not, she risks the adventure at the end with the Doctor and she holds her own against Prisoner Zero…her boogeyman from childhood beyond the mysterious crack throughout the episode. The Doctor is only able to defeat Prisoner Zero because of Amy facing her fears making her an active agent with a lot of agency in this episode. Also, as a small thing…she’s the one pulling the Doctor and telling him to run, which is a nice subverting of the usual Doctor/Companion relationship. Karen Gillian is fantastic.

Rory – We only see him briefly, but he helps fight against Prisoner Zero with the evacuating of the hospital and he is the one who helps the Doctor figure out Prisoner Zero is masking itself from the Atraxi by tapping into people’s dreams who are in a coma. You see how powerless he feels for a lot of it too, as Amy doesn’t admit they are a couple to the Doctor. He still does quite well though and respects Amy.

Prisoner Zero – What an awesome baddie, this enemy who committed unknown crimes is the haunting space eel thing that can shape shift into multiple people, but can’t match the voices to the bodies. It is a good threat and wants to let the world burn rather than be caught again, so it’s motivation makes sense. It also gives the Doctor the warning that “Silence Will Fall,” which is a major plot point over Eleven’s Arc. The fact that it takes the Doctor and Amy together to defeat it along with the Atraxi is a testament to it’s power. Also it has the Moffat playing with senses deal as it’s true form can only be seen from the corner of your eye.

The Atraxi – Giant Space Crystal’s with large eyes…unless that is what their ships are…these guys are good Galactic Police as they cannot see beyond their own people until the Doctor reminds them that they can’t bully other planets or the Earth in their hunt for criminals or simply just because. He shows them the planet is defended.

The Doctor Revealed – The best reveal of the Doctor as a Time Lord happens in this, both as him visiting Amy as a child and when she is grown and his unawareness of how much time has passed, and at the end when the Atraxi scanning screen reveals how all the Numbered Doctors from 1-10 have defended the Earth. We see their images, ending on a big picture of Ten before Eleven walks through and tells them, “Basically, run.”

The cinematography – Is the best it’s ever been. This is a beautiful episode and it captures the mystery and subtext of scenes very well, as well as the threats of the Atraxi and Prisoner Zero.

The Music – This is some of Murray Gold’s best work, from Amy’s scene, to the Doctor Triumphant and the music inbetween. Definitely one of my favorite composers.

I highly recommend this episode. It keeps the fairy tale theme that is referenced in the episode, but unlike the fairy tale theme…the princess doesn’t need to be saved. The Doctor and Amy work together, and Rory too defeat the threats that appear and they are treated like fully fleshed out characters. Prisoner Zero is a great threat as are the Atraxi in their obliviousness and Matt Smith as the Peter Pan Doctor is a pleasure in all the joy he takes out of things. Definitely the best episode thus far…I’m curious how “Deep Breath” and the 12th Doctor are going to compare now…we shall see. Until then, bow ties are cool.

10 / 10. Good enemy, great Doctor, companions are partners against the threat, great music and cinematography, and establishes the Doctor as a Time Lord, that there were Doctor’s who came before, and his role as defender of the Earth.

11th Doctor

12 Days of Doctors – The 8th Doctor – “Doctor Who The Movie” – Paul McGann Should Have Got a Series

Doctor Who tv movie

We continue 12 Days of Doctors with our count up to 12th’s First Adventure with Paul McGann as the 8th Doctor and the “Doctor Who” movie.

This was after the show had been taken off the air, and the first attempt at a reboot and also at expanding the market for Doctor Who into the U.S.A. and Canada. It didn’t succeed, and there are well deserved reasons for that I’ll go into in the assessment.

The story of the film begins with the 7th Doctor taking the The Master’s remains back to Skaro after he was executed there for his crimes. The Master escapes and forces the TARDIS to land which leads to the 7th Doctor getting shot by gangsters. One of the medics who picks up the Doctor’s body gets possessed by the Master and another doctor named Grace accidentally kills the Doctor when she thinks his heart rate is beating uncontrollably. This leads to his regeneration into his 8th Incarnation, and the story unfolds from there with the Master’s plan and the Doctor trying to find out who he is.

doctor-who-96-tv-movie-cast

Here is the assessment of the episode:

The Pros: the Introduction – The introduction is pretty cool. It is narrated by Paul McGann and we see the 7th Doctor reading the “Time Machine” and going about his normal life until everything goes to crap. It was great seeing Sylvester McCoy again, even if he doesn’t survive past 20 minutes. Seeing the Dalek’s used as executioners was a fitting Time Lord way to do things too and seeing the Old Master from the classic series was great again as well, before his death.

The 8th Doctor / The Eighth Doctor – Paul McGann is fantastic. He reminds me a lot of the 5th Doctor in how empathetic he is and he is one of the Doctor’s who is aware of things around him more so than most…glimpsing peoples’ futures or deducting them. He also inspires Grace and Chang to actions to save him in the end. He is just that kind of Doctor and I wish he’d gotten his own series. He deserves it and very worthy of the mantel. Also, he has a great fashion sense.

Cons: The Companions – Chang Lee and Grace are just terrible human beings. Chang steals the Doctor’s stuff works with the Master when the Master is clearly evil…his only redeeming quality comes at the end when he resists the Master. Grace has the same problem, she’s a cheater sleeping with one of her fellow doctors (the one who gets possessed by the Master) and is pretty useless up until the end. She does save the day, so I’ll give her that, but having her be the main companion besides Chang Lee was a mistake. None of them are likeable or talented enough to carry the story. Both are extremely selfish characters.

The Master – The Master is just bad…he dresses in a leather coat with sunglasses initially and spits slime. Making him like a demon was a mistake, as it took away the fact that Time Lords are supposed to be very human. He was also pretty inept and only was able to get so close to winning because of Chang Lee stealing the Doctor’s stuff which allowed him to get in the TARDIS and set his trap. Eric Roberts is just a textbook movie bad guy, there is nothing unique about him and all he does is create tension when the plot needs him too. His Master isn’t unique or memorable. His whole plan is to use the TARDIS’s energy in the Eye of Harmony to transfer his soul to the Doctor’s body so he has more lives…yep, pretty convoluted and he misses a lot of opportunities that he would have had to succeed.

The Doctor is Half Human – So glad that they ignored this plot point in the tv show. It has no purpose and is only their so Chang Lee can open up Mcguffins in the TARDIS. Him being Half Human makes no sense given how old he is and the mythos of him being one of the earliest Time Lords. This was a poor plot point to make the Doctor more human I think and again, so glad that the new series and the classic series never went there.

The Supporting Cast – No one is memorable, everyone is a one note partier, an arrogant Doctor, Businessmen, Scientist or gangster. It is sad how poorly this movie was cast and written. Doctor Who deserved better than that.

The only thing good about this movie is Paul McGann. I wish he’d gotten his own series, and I hope at some point a mini-series can be commissioned for him. He owns this role and gives it a unique and empathetic twist. He is what drove the film, cause even though it was in many ways just a stupid action film that happened to star the Doctor…he made it “Doctor Who” and he was the Doctor. “Night of the Doctor” we get to see him again, and that will be a special review for another time. Paul McGann, I hope you can get the chance to be the character that you own so well so that you won’t be associated with such a terrible film.

Final score for this film is 5 / 10. Would be a below average action movie if not for the appearance by Sylvester McCoy and Paul McGann as the 8th Doctor.

Doctor Who 8th Doctor

12 Days of Doctors – The 3rd Doctor – Season 7, Episode 1 – “The Spearhead From Space” – The Beginning of an Exile

Spearhead_from_Space

We continue 12 Days of Doctors with the count up to 12th’s first Adventure with the 3rd Doctor. This was the first time Doctor Who appeared in color and also the first episode that had UNIT helping the Doctor against the current threat, as well as the introduction as well as the introduction of Jon Pertwee at the Third Doctor.

“The Spearhead From Space,” was written by Robert Holmes and directed by Derek Martinus. Producer Derrick Sherman oversaw the change between Troughton to Pertwee and the new direction the show would take.

The story begins with strange meteors crashing into the Earth, one of which is the Doctor in the TARDIS. He is taken in by UNIT (United Nations Intelligence Task Force) as UNIT tries to figure out what happened as only a piece of one of the strange alien cylinders that fell is found by them and it is broken. Liz is brought onto the scene by the Brigadier to help solve things and after the Doctor is attacked by assassins from the life-form that landed he begins working with The Brig and Liz  to find out what it is…at least until Liz gets him his key to the TARDIS and he finds that the Time Lords have permanently exiled him on Earth in the time period it takes place in forcing him to help solve the crisis and accept his exile. From here the story unfolds.

Dr Who: Spearhead From Space

Here is the assessment of the episode:

The Pros: The Brig – Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart is the most famous leaders of UNIT and the only person who had met the Doctor prior in this episode since he met him during the 2nd Doctor’s run. He is the prime factor helping and hindering the Doctor, as he knows he needs the Doctor but also respects the Doctor. He is the one who listens when the Doctor gives advice and acts on it. He is definitely a companion, though not in the fly around in the TARDIS way companion. In this episode we see him help focus the Doctor on the threat at hand and protect him from the threat. He makes a deal with the Doctor at an end to give him a lab and supplies to help fix the TARDIS as well as clothes and a car.

Liz – Liz is one of the famous companions during the 3rd Doctor’s run. We see her as indepdent and a skeptic when we first meet her, not wanting to be used by UNIT until her curiousity is made strong enough and we see her complex relationship with the Doctor too. She is the one who helps him fight the Nestene Consciousness (that later appears to face the 9th Doctor in his first adventure with a companion) and save the people who have been paralyzed so their Auton (plastic people) forms can reek havok. She is one of the companions I have a lot of respect for as she holds her own and her identity isn’t dependent on the Doctor.

UNIT – It is great seeing UNIT mostly competent and in action. The Brig is the leader we see be the most effective, as his superior gets captured by the Nestene’s human speaker Channing and turned into one of the first Autons to infiltrate society. They have a big battle at the end which helps limit the damage the Nestene Cons. causes.

The Nestene Consciousness – Is a great threat and an interesting looking alien. It is an alien made of pure energy that separates itself into different parts and once combined together is able to form a tentacle monster that nearly kills the Doctor. My one issue with it is we don’t know why it wants to conquer Earth. It is a great threat in the episode though.

The Use of Color – The use of color is used really well, from the Doctor’s black gentelmenlike outfit he steals from a doctor…too the dark coats with the pale faces of the Autons. You can see everything happen and it makes the story beautiful to watch.

The Third Doctor / The 3rd Doctor – Jon Pertwee is fantastic. While the First Doctor was the Professor, and the Second Doctor was the buffoon manipulator…the Third Doctor is the gentlemen. We see this in the clothes he chooses and how apologetic he is about every time he messes up. We see him try to run we when he gets the key, and that is when he discovers his punishment for getting involved with humanity and time was more than a forced regeneration…it was exile on the world he was so active in. You can see the sadness in his eyes when he realizes this and this informs his performance too. He is here on Earth because he has to be and also he is still the Doctor a protector. We see his scientific mind at work in helping defeat the Nestene Cons. and that Liz and he have great chemistry when they team up.

Okay: The Supporting Cast – The Factory owner and former factory owner who eventually turn against the Nestene Cons. are pretty one note. They aren’t bad but their roles are predictable and their performances aren’t elevated in anyway. Same goes for the poacher who finds and keeps part of the Nestene’s Cons.

Okay/Con: Channing – He isn’t all that unique as a villain. He takes control of a doll making faculty and the Nestene Cons. promises him power, but other than that he has no motivation. He has power over the Autons I guess, but what was he promised beyond survival. He does alright in the role and he’s not a bad villain, there just isn’t much there.

The 3rd Doctor’s run had a fair amount of episodes saved thankfully, and Jon Pertwee is a pleasure to watch. This episode is a good episode and a good introduction to him as the Third Doctor. It definitely gets a recommendation from me, even though the story and baddies aren’t as good as those from “The Power of the Daleks.” Jon Pertwee is one of the best, you can never go wrong with the Brigadier and Liz is a great companion.

Final score for this episode is 8.5 / 10

Spearhead from Space (3)