Saturday, December 26, 2009

'The End of Time Itself'

Russell T. Davies is obviously given to hyperbole on occasion--especially when he is writing dialogue for the Ood (how do they articulate so well when their mouths are a bag o' wormy veins? Oh right, with that telepathic speaking ball. Handy.) So when we are warned that the danger the Doctor is facing in this 2 part final special means the final act of Time as well, it doesn't really hit home. I mean, the Doctor has saved the past, the present, the future, Earth, the universe, and reversed horrific events...well, time and time again. Plus we know that Matt Smith is the Doctor next year so obviously Time doesn't truly end (unless Matt Smith is some kind of younger Doctor, as in, the Doctor's exploits pre-Christopher Eccleston and Rose Tyler).

But when the Doctor sits at a cafe with Wilf, and explains why someone who is technically immortal, who can regenerate and be young again every time he is mortally wounded, actually feels terror and intense grief at the prophesy of his death, it's something completely new in this series. It's an earnestness, a simple statement of personal facts, that the Doctor does not often divulge. He explains that the regeneration is not always guaranteed, and then the doozie: that even when he does regenerate, it feels like death. Every. Single. Time. Some new man just walks away with his memories and skills and life. He, That Particular Incarnation of the Doctor, is gone forever.

In the face of Tennant's imminent departure, the poignancy of these admissions is for once backed up by the fact that we know this Doctor really will die soon. (Though I do predict a return of the half-human, half-Doctor Tennant clone who is hanging out in a parallel Earth with Rose Tyler in, say, a year and a half? maybe two? Once that NBC lawyer show Tennant is filming doesn't get picked up for its' back-nine episodes.) And who better to spill his guts to than Wilf? The father of the one companion who was actually an equal, a friend? The man who seems inextricably tied to his own personal timeline? An old man, with various lives of his own, experiences as a soldier and someone unique in the universe?

A man who might very well be a Timelord himself. Honestly, when Wilf went to his old private memento box, and unwrapped that ancient gun, I was positive it was gonna be that fob watch that hides a Timelord's persona within a human. I still feel that he IS a timelord in hiding (not knowing it himself obviously) which would explain the Doctor's comfort (and momentary suspicion) with him, his reemergence in the Doctor's life and ability to locate him so swiftly, his love of the sky and stars, his encouragement of Donna's adventures, and even Donna's own participation in the Doctor's life.

Think about it. If Wilf is a Timelord, that means Donna is part Timelord, part Human, which is exactly what she became in last series' finale. The Doctor thought that was the first time that has ever existed, and that it wasn't physically possible, hence his decision to wipe her memories. But what if that's what she already was! What if that was WHY the timelines bent to activate her as the DoctorDonna? What if she IS capable of sustaining the mind of a Timelord in the body of a human? That would mean she could come back. The DoctorDonna can return, and least as far as Part Two of The End of Time is concerned.

This episode was unlike any other Davies' Doctor Who episode I have seen, especially in the last two years. Like in The Waters of Mars, the Doctor was essentially alone throughout. I suppose Wilf became his companion by the end, but it seems more circumstance and fate than choice. More importantly, the Doctor seemed terrified throughout. Often he'd get scared, or see the danger in situations, the impossibility of evil machinations, but this time, alone, faced with his own 'inevitable' demise, he seemed thinner and more breakable. It was acted beautifully. I mean, Tennant brought this 900 year old, nigh omnipotent alien and Lord of Time, to the brink of tears at a Chiswick cafe, and it was entirely believable.

Not only was the Doctor more different than ever, but the Master, resurrected and somehow imbued with superpowers was a shock. Perhaps any Timelord could access that kind of temporary flight, lightning bolt wielding, human eating abilities, but it seems to cost whatever lifeforce he has in that particular body. And then it turns out the Master and the Doctor are not the only Timelords anymore. The episode opens with narration, and continues with it until about 2/3rds in, when we see the face of...a character/actor I probably should know if I was an old school Doctor Who fan who watched the (kinda cheesy and dated) series in the 60s, 70s, and 80s. But I'm not, I'm a 2005 series fan, and not ashamed of it. Still, it felt like seeing Leonard Nimoy in the Star Trek Movie, and I have some feeling (read it somewhere?) that the narrator is a Timelord named the Professor (seems appropriate). Suffice to say that he tells us today is the day that the Timelords return.

So somehow the Timwar get's un-time-locked, or the Master (or the Doctor) goes back in time and saves them and the entire planet of Gallifrey, or changes the universe, or something equally big. (The narrator said the Master was to have a time of enormous glory in the near future; guess that could be good or bad but I feel it hints at some redemption for the Master.) Definitely feels like the New Year's Day one will be a game changer.

Other highlights include: seeing the Master's old human wife Lucy from Season 3, and her defiance to his return. The producers somehow managing to make a trash dump into a scary, mountainous immortal warrior arena. The shot of the council of Timelords of Gallifrey. The TARDIS locking with a car alarm sound, and then the Doctor hiding the TARDIS a second out of sync (just like the Dalek's hid the Earth and the other 27 planets they stole last season--pretty cool to see how the Doctor learns and adapts as continues to grow older and see more and face more--and to sort of be a part of it, having seen and learned with him.)

As for disappointments, I'll just say that there was far far too little screen time for Donna for me. I understand that Wilf is the companion right now, and I definitely see how that works for the tenor of the show and Tennant's exit, but I hope to God that Part Two has a really heavy Donna storyline, where she remembers, and evolves and returns, at least for a little while, to her previous glory and personality. The other storyline I didn't love was every human on Earth turning into the Master (creepy) BUT I see it as the foil for the exact plot development I want; namely, both Wilf and Donna do not change. They are the only humans to stay the same.

Means they're Timelords, or half-Timelords, or at least very important and integral to the Tennant-Doctor's final story.

All in all, was one of the best Doctor Who episodes I've seen in a long time, and certainly one of the most different. Very glad Davies took some risks and changed things up for his final story, and I cannot wait for next week's continuation/conclusion.

If you've never seen the show...well, then you probably didn't read this post, or at least didn't get to the end. However, I highly recommend it, but start with the 2005 season. Christopher Eccleston is quite different from Tennant, but I still fell in love with the show immediately, and also you should get to know Rose before you meet Tennant, and Martha Jones, and then Donna. Watch it as they made it. (It goes faster than you'd like.)

Happy day after Christmas! Long Live the Doctor.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Total Recall

I take back everything bad I said about the British, and their television programmers specifically. Turns out Doctor Who DID air today, and is currently materializing bit by kilobyte onto my very own USS Macbook!

No matter that everywhere I look online says it's airing December 25th. In approximately an hour I will be watching brand new David Tennant adventures, his final story, and the return (possibly demise according to internet speculation?) of Donna Noble.

Pretty good Christmas present for a Jew.

Russell T. Davies---despite some dips, you made a great thing here. Interested to see what Steven Moffat can do, but here's hoping you end your run on a high note. I, for one, am certainly looking forward to it.

Merry Christmas

While this Captain was born a Jew, he is often confused for a gentile.

And he's alright with that. Christ set a lot of good things in motion. So, yknow, thanks Baby J. And Happy Birthday.

This fine Friday work-less morning I am pleasantly surprised to find a number of Brooklyn businesses open. Currently I'm nursing a hot chocolate at a Connecticut Muffin and stealing their wireless to download things without a trace of shame. The typical Jew Christmas, apparently, involves Chinese Food and a movie. I have yet to find the best Chinese place in my new neighborhood, but I've got the watching things down to an art form.

Which brings me to my disappointment this morning when I realized the Doctor Who Christmas special 'The End Of Time" wasn't airing until tomorrow. What bollocks! If that's the way it's gonna be, call it a friggin Day-After-Christmas special. Here I thought the Brits were all anti-torture. But this was a cruel blow. I was already setting my clock to London time so as to anticipate the availability of the torrent.

But, hey, it's just another 24 hours, and waiting for Doctor Who to air is usually a matter of months. I'll get through it with my new British series--Misfits. A group of dysfunctional British teens who are all stuck doing court-mandated community service get stuck in a freak lightning storm and develop superpowers. The powers are fairly unoriginal--telepathy, time control, invisibility, pheromone control--but the characters are fresh and it's pretty well made so far (only seen the first two, but eager for the rest.)

I'm also revisiting a little Dollhouse, namely the unaired eps: Epitaph One and the original pilot (which I've never seen) in honor of its impending demise. I have to admit its really stepped up the quality, and as long as they don't have Eliza Dushku miming a head-ache ever ever ever ever ever again (watch The Alphabet Killer for a great example of her inability to act head pain) I think the last couple episodes will be fantastic (especially if Amy Acker comes back, as Epitaph One pretty much promised).

Regardless, the lack of new tv this past week or two is a bit annoying when you suddenly have a three day weekend and want to do a whole lot of nothing, but I've been rather good at wasting time in the past, so I just need to tap into those old habits.

Hope everyone has a beautiful and safe and fun holiday. Talk to you later this weekend about Doctor Who. :-)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Captain Is Back On Deck

My apologies, gentle geeky conservative faithful readers. It has been many months since my last post, and it turns out some of you still are clicking on whatever link brings you to this site on a daily basis. I am flattered and touched and moved and deeply perplexed (how many times can one read a fairly simple review of the comic where Stephanie Brown takes up the mantle of Batgirl?) Regardless I have felt the call back to STB this fine snow-covered Sunday morning.

I have moved to the city (Brooklyn) and got an actual job (Manhattan) and all of a sudden find myself to be, at least on the surface, a fully functioning, society-contributing, money-making cog in the machine (but a cool machine, like a ginormous Swatch or the Ghostbusters' ghost-trap-box thing.) Alright, explanation portion done, lets do a minimalist round-up of some of the pop/culture I've missed.

Star Trek: Finally saw the J.J.Abrams movie last night. Was never a Trekkie, wasn't even super interested in the movie, but heard good things so I checked it out. Not entirely sure whether it was amazingly well-written or if my biochemistry was somehow inexplicably altered for those couple hours, but I experienced about 8 intense, 10 minute long sobbing sessions throughout the movie. No joke. Was crying before the titles flashed across the scene, and by the time the end credits showed up I was just a red faced, dehydrated, human-shaped mound of snot sitting on a couch. Loved it. Haven't felt so much emotion since that whole birth thing.

Inglorious Basterds: Also saw yesterday. Am disappointed I was more effected by Star Trek, but I thought it was great nonetheless. Perfect amount of humor, gore wasn't nearly as ubiquitous or disquieting (or satisfying) as I anticipated, and even Brad Pitt grew on me after his first scene (though he definitely doesn't deserve first billing on this film.) The women were the best characters, and the "JewHunter" was amazing actor as well, though plotwise, the final third's developments still mystify me a bit. Solid though, and really well done. Would be ok with Quentin getting some awards for it.

Dollhouse: Ending. Shocker. Quality has absolutely improved though, I can't deny that. Summer Glau had a very strong two-part guest starrage (though, yet a-fucking-gain, she was an eccentric brilliant socially-inept hard-to-understand genius) and obviously Alan Tudyk is still solid. Unfortunately, Eliza has remained wooden and incapable of actual acting, and the writers still rest the majority of the story on her shoulders. This show should be about Victor instead! Enver Gojak (?-dont feel like looking it up) is unbelievable. Everyone else is flat and fairly uninteresting.

Blackest Night: Solid, and expectedly brutal. Dragging out waaay too long, also as expected. The next big crossover series are already being solicited, and me and my wallet are both getting rather tired. Do love having those promotional rings though ha.

Doctor Who: Waters of Mars was pretty solid. Far far better than The Next Doctor and the one with the Bionic Woman actress (who is basically Britain's Eliza Dushku.) However, could not be more excited for the Xmas day special, followed by the New Years final David Tennant episode. Catherine Tate returns!! My favorite companion. Hope she gets some real screen time, and that the DoctorDonna comes back to the Universe. Not as excited for Matt Smith but definitely interested (especially for whichever episode Alex Kingston shows up in.)

Bat-books: Kinda boring at the moment, to be honest. Love that Red Robin has his own title, identity and mission (Tim Drake's my favorite hero, if you've never read this blog before) but Yost has been trying too hard to make the stories as intricate and batman-detective-y as possible. I want some more emotion, some more personal stuff. Also the occasional closure would be lovely. As for the other titles, you'd think Dick Grayson as Batman and Damien Psycho Wayne as Robin would be full of writing opportunities, such a major (and temporary) shake up of the most established title in comic books, and yet they seem to be doing the same crap; gang wars, super-villain blowing up Arkham Asylum and using all lesser villains as an army against Batman & Gotham (Tony Daniel is very overrated) and freaky Grant Morrison/Frank Quitely collaborations (Red Hood and Scarlet blew, R.I.P. and Final Crisis blew and were seriously disturbing, and yet they've given him the "Return of Bruce Wayne" storyline. Rather pissed about it.)

(500) Days of Summer: Lovely. Thought it would be boring/formulaic. Wasn't. Very glad Joseph Gordon-Levitt was main character. Love him. he always picks great stuff (BrickBrickBrickBrickBrick) and is about time he got some awards. Also I'm rather sick to death of the whole I'm-A-Deschanel-Look-How-Cute-And-Eccentric-I-Am.

30 Rock: Not what it used to be. Tina Fey is overexposed and has like zero warmth. Actually like Parks and Recreation more. (Hunting episode was great.)

X-Men: Still not sure about all this Utopia/Nation X thing. Matt Fraction is completely great on Iron Man and then nearly intolerable at times on X-Men. X-Necrosha, completely by surprise, is far more satisfying so far. But one things true in all X-titles: I miss Storm. They've got every mutant every written, basically, at their disposal, living on the same island, and they just use the same characters over and over. Know you can't squeeze every one in, but pick some new shit. I mean, Dazzler? Really? X-Factor's pretty solid, and outside that whole San-Fran shiny world, but unfortunately still feels a bit slow. The forced noir thing drags it down, but i'll admit, I've waited many years to see Rictor and Shatterstar get together (even tracked down the couple old issues of X-Force years ago where a writer occasionally described them as "more than just friends") so I could do with some more storyline for them (plus isn't Shattybuns the son of Longshot and Dazzler? That would be a nice loose end to confront.) Also Jubilee is coming back! Huzzah!

Merlin: Though frustratingly formulaic, I really like this show, and it's somehow gotten better. Absolutely ready for a change in the status quo, but there's something very comforting about this weekly British myth-bastardizing show...and it's not just watching Giles with a crown.

Obama: Kind of checked out of the whole following-politics-closely thing in past months. (Not just cause I can't listen to Rush during work hours, but cause it was painful to read Drudge Report every day.) However, I am getting back into it, because it is a whole lotta fun to watch Obama stepping on his toes and deteriorating. (Im talking pre-empting Charlie Brown Xmas, predicting bankrupt govt if Obamacare doesn't pass, expensive date nights, bowing to every dictator/king he finds, angry unpopular speech at Copenhagen while Chavez gets standing O...funny shit.)

Dexter: Pretty fucking disturbed by the finale. Not as crazy about this season as everyone else--thought the Lithgow thing was drawn out, not so interesting, though definitely creepy, and ending was just horrible. Don't think it was necessary to the evolution of the show, don't think it was fair/cool to the audience (or Julie Benz) and actually makes Dexter look like a huge chump (all he did this season was fuck things up every week.) Obviously not a feel-good family drama, but does it absolutely have to be so brutal? Actually made me have trouble going to sleep, which is a first.

Can't think of anything else at the moment, except for the last book I read which was completely fantastic. Called To Rule The Waves: How the British Navy Shaped the Modern World by Arthur Hermann. Highly recommend it. Learned so much cool information, great stories, incredibly well written. Going back to fiction now, but still navy/nautical Napoleonic times; a series in fact recommended by Herman at the back of the book for people who have already read Patrick O'Brian and CS Forester at least twice each (guilty) by Richard Woodman. Will let you know.

Hopefully I'll be back soon. But either way, thanks for typing me into your url bar for all those weeks of nothing. Have a lovely Sunday.

-Captain Elias