Archive for category Doctor Who

Series Issues: Doctor Who’s Twice Upon A Time

Vworp… Vworp… Vworp… Spoilersss!

Doctor-Who-Twice-Upon-A-Time

(Source: BBC)

Yes, it’s that time of the year again. Doctor Who’s Christmas Special happened and with it we have Peter Capaldi’s final bow as The Doctor. For some, an epic last hurrah to his tenure as our favourite Time Lord. For others, a lukewarm letdown for the Twelfth Doctor’s swan song.

But for every fan, it was also the first on-screen appearance of Jodie Whittaker as the new Doctor. And yes, it all ends in a cliffhanger.

To bring it all to a close, we have David Bradley as the First Doctor. That means he gets to impersonate the late great William Hartnell as well as deliver a few lines from another time long ago with mixed results. Mark Gatiss is also along as the Captain, a little easter egg for long time Whovians. I should add that quite a few people will determine his lineage on appearance alone. We also get Pearl Mackie reprising her role of Bill Potts for the entire episode.

In the end, we get a final episode of Doctor Who with a twist. Testimony, the supposed antagonist, is not the big bad. There is no big bad. And with that, we get a surprisingly emotive retelling of the Christmas armistice of 1914 during the First World War plus the passing of the torch from Capaldi to Whittaker. Does it work? Yes, it does! I’m not sure why some people hesitate or consider it subtle. A few things work, a few things seem a bit unnecessary but there’s no bloated filler. It’s a good, lean and filling last meal of a Doctor Who Christmas special.

Highs, Lows and Vworps:

  • Peter Capaldi is given his times to shine both as the Twelfth Doctor taking on seemingly unsurmountable odds and being flummoxed by Bill Potts or The First Doctor. He also sends advice to the next Doctor in line as his time for regenerating finally comes.
  • David Bradley’s plays William Hartnell playing the Doctor. There’s really very little “The Doctor” moments with him. He never really does dispense advice as much as he criticizes Capaldi’s Doctor, but he’s still fun to watch. There’s a couple of dated remarks that are supposed to be lightly sexist and end up cringy. I’m not asking to revision history but you could’ve had the First Doctor learn from those mistakes and evolve a little more.
  • Pearl Mackie plays the always fun and unbreakable Bill Potts. And yes, it’s still her and her memories formed in Testimony. She still challenges and moves the Doctor to action and/or emotion. I’m sad she’s not hanging around as a companion.
  • Mark Gatiss plays the Captain, who only gets to state his identity at the end. It’s Captain Archibald Hamish Lethbridge-Stewart. It’s extremely obvious from the beginning that he’s related to the Brigadier, Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart, the leader of UNIT played by Nicholas Courtney who has made appearances in the show from 1968 to 2008.
  • There’s a brief but meaningful appearance of Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald, finally giving The Doctor back his memories of her. I guess Clara Oswald eventually gets added to Testimony, but as we know she’s still out there. I wonder if we could put Ashildr and Clara’s diner in a future episode. (See: Series Issues: Doctor Who 9×12 – Hell Bent)
  • There’s also a brief cameo by Matt Lucas as Nardole. Of course, Nardole gets no respect as usual.
  • The face-hugging things were stupid. Sorry, that has been overdone. Only Aliens gets to keep using facehuggers from now on.
  • The secret stash of Aldebaran brandy in the TARDIS is not known by Twelve until River Song reveals the secret panel to him before learning he’s the new incarnation. Does this mean that the First Doctor learned this and then forgot it? The Doctor is supposedly immune to paradox (so is the show, let’s be honest).
  • And finally, it’s Jodie Whittaker’s first on-screen appearance as The Doctor. She doesn’t quite get to stretch her wings as Thirteen though. With the TARDIS broken up and her new occupant in free fall, we’re left where all the Doctor’s adventures begin again: a cliffhanger.

That will do for now.

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Series Issues: Doctor Who Falls, Finale Thoughts

Spoilers might shoot you in the back.

dr-who-s10e12-the-doctor-falls

(Source: BBC One)

You know how this goes, as much as that spoiler warning goes up. I don’t really like to recap an episode, specially when I like it so much. The series has been giving little hints about something else, and as it happens it goes all the way back to the first episode, to The Pilot.

But I’m jumping ahead. Pearl Mackie has been a subtle force to be reckoned with as Bill Potts. I really thought that we lost Bill. As it happens, we get to see Bill as Bill again. Bill is still a Cyberman. We see Bill because she still has her self-image as human. It’s a really good way to perceive her sometimes as she sees herself and sometimes as the Cyberman that other people cower away from.

They’re going into a battle that they can’t win. The Cybermen are coming. The Master and Missy are leaving, despite the pleas from the Doctor. Missy hesitates longer than normal, and we know we could be seeing a turn. A turn that when it comes, it comes a little too late. The Master seems to have a problem turning into Missy, and Missy seems to have evolved beyond her past incarnation. A pity that the Doctor never gets to see it.

There’s a quixotic attitude in the Doctor for this confrontation, a sense that he’s going into a battle he can’t possible win. He knows it, he knows the odds, he’s just doing it because it’s the right thing to do. A heroic and altruistic mindset that knows that even if he gives his life he might be giving the small community of humans a very slim chance, a chance that might translate into barely a few more drops of time living. There was a certain feeling, like running at windmills, of bravery regardless of outcome.

I was glad to see that Bill was spared the cursed life of a Cyberman prison. I didn’t expect Heather to turn up (the water fiend/friend from The Pilot). Now what used to be a doomed destiny becomes Bill’s chance at freedom. In typical cruel irony, the Doctor doesn’t get to see Bill’s future.

Instead, he’s transported to his beloved TARDIS. He’s sustained enough damage though. With an imminent regeneration looming, the Doctor stalls. He doesn’t want to regenerate. He doesn’t want to change anymore. It’s a middle-regeneration crisis he’s going through. He stumbles out of the TARDIS, still trying to put out the regeneration fires. Then a voice calls out and he calls back.

It’s the Doctor. Not a Doctor, but THE Doctor. The first ever Doctor in the flesh. Of course this is David Bradley (Filch!) playing the role of the original William Hartnell as he did back in 2013’s An Adventure in Space and Time.

Highs/Lows/FinaleThoughts:

  • I was glad to see Pearl Mackie again in the flesh, even if it was Bill having a illusory image of herself. That was very well executed.
  • The Master and Missy’s double betrayal. Backstabbing each other is the literal interpretation of the Master sabotaging himself.
  • Missy’s sonic is an umbrella. A dark Mary Poppins indeed. I will miss Missy though.
  • Nardole actually organizes the resistance. That almost makes me forgive him for running away and leaving the Doctor in the hands of the Master and Missy.
  • “Where there’s tears, there’s hope.” That line had a lot of reach in this episode, when said by the Doctor to a doomed Bill, when said by Heather to a converted Bill and when said by Bill to a dying Doctor.
  • The Doctor figuratively becoming Don Quixote and charging at the Cybermen as if they were his proverbial windmills. Also, Nardole blows up a windmill.
  • The Twelfth Doctor (Peter Capaldi) meeting the First Doctor (William Hartnell played by David Bradley).
  • I thought The Doctor would end up using his regenerative energy to restore Bill Potts’ body. Then again, I like this solution much better.
  • If the intention was to have Heather be the solution for Bill’s predicament, I wish some more forecasting had been used sprinkled across the rest of the series. Some scenes make allusion at Bill’s tears, however. I guess we just had to believe there was no way out for Bill.
  • The mystery of how the Twelfth and the First Doctor meet, and the actual regeneration to Thirteen will be revealed in the 2017’s Christmas Special.

That will do for now.

 

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Series Issues: Doctor Who brings the World Enough and Time

 

Spoilers might be upgraded.

dr-who-s10e11-world-enough-and-time

(Source: BBC One)

There are great episodes of Doctor Who that you can’t ever call favourites because they go dark. World Enough and Time falls into that category. It starts off light and campy with Missy breaking the fourth wall. We’re basically lured into a false sense of security, thinking this one is all about silliness and fun. And then one of our beloved characters gets shot and we realized we’ve walked right into a pitch black trap that tugs at the heartstrings.

Yes, this a great but dark episode. It’s very well crafted and the payoff is great. Now, in case you haven’t noticed, the better the episode the less recap it gets from me. I feel that it’s only fair since a great episode speaks by itself.

I think very much like the Doctor, I wanted Missy to show some signs of redemption. But more important than that, I didn’t think I’d have to worry about the other travelers onboard the TARDIS. I didn’t think I’d have to worry about Bill. You see, the scuffle on board this ship was a red herring. This ship comes from Mondas… And this episode is about the very birth of the Cybermen.

The Cybermen are more of a nightmare that a lot of the other enemies of the Doctor because they’re built from people. The transformation is hailed as irreversible. You can’t turn a Cyberman back to a regular human being. You also can’t unknow the fact that inside, there’s a person in perpetual pain, a silent traveler inside his own body turned to machine.

To add just about another challenge, the huge ship orbits a black hole. Time is happening faster on the part of the ship that is further away. The Doctor has managed to leave a memory imprint on Bill’s mind: Wait for me. But this imprint is a cruel reminder through the years that Bill waits for the Doctor, already her heart a piece of technology. The first of many upgrades she will get. Her apparent benefactor, a lowly maintenance guy, is not what he seems to be. Or rather, he’s exactly what you thinking he is.

The Master is back. Or rather, he’s back in time. Now that he’s joined forces with his future self, Missy herself, the Doctor is at its worst disadvantage. We’re going into the finale with everything on the line, and the chance that neither the Doctor nor Bill will make it alive in one piece… or any original ones.

Highs/Lows/Upgrades:

  • ARGHHH! I didn’t want Bill’s life on the line here. I know the Cybermen’s rule is you don’t go back to human if you’re upgraded to a Cyberman, but will there be a caveat/exception this time? Or are we losing Bill this season too?
  • Missy is funny, but we’ve forgotten she’s got evil in her. And now beside her too!
  • Missy insists that the Doctor’s real name is Doctor Who. “It’s on all the screens.” Fourth wall trolling at its finest. Or worst.
  • I hate to have real life but in, but we all know that Peter Capaldi is leaving the show. So we’re getting a regeneration and a new face. I was hoping Pearl Mackie would stick around as Bill, but that one is in the balance now.
  • I waited. My GAWD, that finger pointing hurt. Guilt in its purest form. It almost feels like a betrayal. Knowing what he knew, why couldn’t the Doctor just freakin’ RUSH down for Bill?
  • We were all expecting the Spanish Inquisition here. Meaning, the whole delayed reveal of the Cybermen when we all knew they were the Cybermen might seem pointless. Still, it was well made.
  • John Simms returns as the Master without us losing Michelle Gomez as Missy. The result is an evil alliance through time, but still something we all wanted to witness.
  • The Genesis of the Cybermen is a known unproduced story of Doctor Who. The Master names it at some point, which makes me think that was going to be the original name of the finale. Whether or not some of the original plot elements will be used is unknown.

That will do for now.

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