Saturday, 13 September 2014

Series 8 - Robot of Sherwood

Have I mentioned that I'm a Mark Gatiss fangirl? I suspect I have. The third episode of the series 8 continues that trend.

After two quite dark, cerebral episodes of Doctor Who to start the series, this medieval romp was a welcome change of pace. I like my Robin Hood ridiculously silly, and this fit right in.

Clara was once again awesome. Not only was she wearing a lovely costume, and thus actually dressing to fit the time period (something I wish happened more often), but she was representing me. Seriously, she did an excellent rendition of  a fangirl confronted with her obsession. Believe me, I know.

Also, not only did she take charge of the Doctor and Robin (proving why teaching is an excellent profession for the character), but she conducted yet another interrogation of the villain, getting him to talk before he made her talk.

Speaking of the villain, Ben Miller was utterly delightful as the Sheriff of Nottingham. Slimy and smarmy, obviously evil, yet oddly charming. I kind want Clara/Sheriff fanfiction now.

The robot knights were a lovely design and the spaceship looked appropriately bizarre. The golden arrow was perhaps not the best plot solution - in fact I don't particularly want to focus on the plot too much otherwise I will start to see far too many holes. But I loved the episode anyway.

The 'spoon' fight was hilarious and it was nice to see that it had a purpose in teaching Robin what trick to use to defeat the Sheriff. The 'Merry Men' were a tad superfluous, however the Doctor testing them to figure out what they were was very funny.

There was another mention of this mysterious 'promised land'. I have a theory, but I am not sharing. :P

The conversation between the Doctor and Robin at the end was perhaps most in keeping with the previous two episodes. The idea that stories are more important than real people is an interesting one. And the idea of the legend inspiring people to be true heroes is something we see time and time again in Doctor Who, even if it is not always spelt out for us.

Now I just need to survive the next episode without freaking out...

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Series 8 - Deep Breath & Into the Dalek

Okay, to keep myself getting further behind on this reviewing thing than I already am, I'm doing a double post for the first two episodes of new Doctor Who! Eee!

Deep Breath

I really enjoyed this episode, not in my usual 'Squee' way, but at a more contemplative level. The pace was a lot slower, not just because of the length of the episode, but due to the multiple conversational scenes, whether between Vastra and Clara, the Doctor and the tramp, or the brilliant restaurant scene between Clara and the Doctor.

I love the ever affectionate relationship between Jenny and Vastra, just I love their action scenes. And I love that Clara had her own story and had to do important things. I love that she stood up to Vastra (and that Jenny squealed over it) and I love that even though she was terrified, she managed to interrogate the half faced man.

Capaldi is brilliant. He doesn't have my heart yet, that still belongs to Matt Smith, but he was brilliant anyway. I loved how sympathetic he was towards the dinosaur and how grumpy he was. I love that the Doctor's morality is somewhat ambiguous. He abandons Clara a number of times, he was aggressive to the tramp and took his coat (did he really give the tramp a watch in return) and we still don't know if he pushed the half faced man or if the robot jumped.

I adored the surprise appearance of Matt Smith. Was I ever going to say no to that?

I did get a wee bit irritated by the constant hammering of the Doctor being old now and not Clara's boyfriend. But I appreciated that the Doctor acknowledged that it wasn't actually Clara's mistake. Strax was funny, but the medical check up scene did seem a bit pointless.

As for Missy? Who is she? I don't know and I'm not even going to try and guess.

Into The Dalek

This episode was even better. More moral ambiguity! To use a Galactic Suburbia term, these first two episodes were very crunchy. The idea of a good Dalek and whether or not this is what the Doctor is, is fascinating. Do they mean good as in 'angelic' or do they mean good as in 'competent'? The Doctor still has a rocky relationship with soldiers. In this case, he turned down a possible new companion, because he was a soldier.

Speaking of soldiers, I am thoroughly intrigued by Danny Pink. Here is another man with hints of a moral quandary. He argues that modern soldiery is more than shooting people, but responds with tears when asked if he has killed a non soldier. He's clearly become a teacher to escape a past that still pains him. Will Clara be able to help. I can only imagine that there might be fireworks if he and the Doctor meet.

As for the plot, it was nice to see something a little different done with a Dalek. As usual, they are more menacing the less of them there are. Clara also got to be smart and capable again. The Doctor may have told her to do something clever, but she had to figure out what that clever thing would be.

The Doctor is still a grumpy sod, and clearly does not have much empathy or tact in this particular regeneration. See his comments about the soldier that died first.

We see Missy again, but learn nothing new. To be honest, Danny Pink intrigues me more than she does at this point.

So... I will try and get the next blog up quickly, preferably before the fourth episode. ;)

Friday, 28 February 2014

Gallifrey One 2014 - The Great Doctor Who Adventure

If anywhere deserves a blog post from me about my experience at the Gallifrey One convention, it is my very own Doctor Who blog. I just hope I can remember everything, as it has been nearly 2 weeks.

I don't have much convention experience. I attended the very first Melbourn Comic Con. Last year I attended the local speculative fiction convention, Conflux. But, inspired by the yearly Gallifrey episodes from the wonderful Radio Free Skaro podcast, I decided that I simply had to attend this one, even if it meant international flights.

I'm so glad that I did.

The four days that I was in Los Angeles was the most amazing experience.

I was very lucky. I may be shy, but I have been associated with The Happiness Patrol podcast for the past year, and the majority of members were attending the con. So on the Thursday afternoon after registering, I plonked myself in the lobby of the LAX Marriott (I was staying next door in the LAX Hilton) and put out a call on Facebook. I was soon scooped up by the ever enthusiastic Lewis and the rest of the gang.

I should note that one thing I was very pleased by during registration was that along with the program, I was given a bright orange sheet of paper containing the convention policies, including a harrassment policy. That's always a good sign of a well run con, I believe.

The Happiness Patrol was not the only group of podcasters that I met on that Thursday night. I met 2/3 of Radio Free Skaro (The remaining third, Warren, remained elusive through out the con, though he commented on my cosplay twice - I was just always on my way somewhere!). Steven seemed quite baffled that I'd crossed the Pacific on the recommendation of three guys from Canada. I also met 3/6 of Verity! podcast, which was lovely (Friday made it 4/6 as I was introduced to Liz as the Aussie fan in the hat). Kat was especially kind, as I lost The Happiness Patrol at one point, and I became one of her ducklings for the evening along with Giles and Mick. *winks*

The point where I had to stamp down on my fannish glee on the Thursday, however, was when I was introduced to Paul Cornell. He was as utterly lovely as I expected, and I was quite proud of myself for being able to add some vaguely sensible comments to the discussion about comics (I'm quite new to the genre).

It actually turned out to be a very Cornell-ish weekend. I dropped by his Saturday signing, as I'd lugged my paperback copy of London Falling along with me (and in fact had started re-reading it on the plane). After that, nearly every panel I ended up going to seemed to have him on it! I didn't mean to be a stalker, pAul, I'm sorry. I was even in the audience at the masquerade (the cosplay contest) where he ran a game of 'Just A Minute' in the interval.

That was quite hilarious, with Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant vying for top spot (Nicola won), Nicola constantly being challenged before finishign a particularly funny story, only to start it again the next time it was her turn, Katy Manning being argumentative and poor Daphne Ashbrook being completely out of her depth.

Goodness, everything is getting a bit out of order. Oh well.

I went to the Radio Free Skaro live show on the Friday morning which was much fun. I attended panels discussing both race and gender in Doctor Who, fan entitlement, the Matt Smith era, and the Paul Cronell panel about London Falling (a surprise, yes?). Deb Stanish asked some very interesting questions, Paul gave interesting answers, and now I'm terribly excited for the release of The Severed Streets in May.

I even cosplayed on the Saturday, debuting my hastily constructed Osgood costume. There were rather a lot of Osgoods running about, including my felloe Happiness Patroller, Michelle.

Another highlight of the weekend was listening in on Lewis interview Daphne Ashbrook and Paul McGann for The Happiness Patrol. I was able to introduce myself to Daphne afterwards, and then listen as she sang in the lobby will Lewis and others played guitar. She has such a lovely voice. I really need to track down her album.

Oooh, I also briefly met Katy Manning! No photos, but she is utterly adorable.

A wrap up of the weekend would not be complete without mentioning the awesome Greek restaurant that we ate at twice. I didn't like Greek food previously, my only example of which was the place in Canberra. The place we ate at in LA, however, was OMG so delicious. I miss it already.

Even after the official con finished, it still stayed brilliant, as I managed to meet Nat from the now defunct Bridging The Rift podcast late on Sunday night (well, early on Monday morning to be honest) and we chatted happily for a couple of hours.

I may not be able to afford to go to America every year, but count me in for 2016!

Saturday, 11 January 2014

I'm getting on my soapbox (Sorry, I've been away a while)

I listen to a lot of Doctor Who podcasts. I follow a lot of Doctor Who fans on Twitter. I've even started reading quite a few blogs of folk who like Doctor Who. For the most part, the people I choose to follow and read either agree with me a lot, or where we disagree, the difference in opinions is polite and well thought out.

Somehow, though, I still seem to get exposed to a lot of negativity. Particularly negativity regarding Steven Moffat. Much of it is second or third hand, but it's definitely out there.

He's ruining the show. He's not focused enough on it. He writes women badly. He uses puerile humour. He's a one trick pony. Blah blah blah.

Well nobody is perfect.

I adore Steven Moffat's work on Doctor Who.

I started watching the show in late 2008 after discovering Torchwood and wanting more of Captain Jack Harkness. forever_bright brought around her box sets and the very first episode I watched of Doctor Who was The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances. I was hooked. I mainlined all four seasons over the next 6 months. At the time I wasn't actually aware of who Steven Moffat was. But by pure coincidence, each and every season my very favourite stories were the ones he wrote, something I didn't realise for a long time.

Then I found out that he was taking over the show. Who was this guy? I was worried about the loss of Tennant, but when I researched Steven Moffat I was stunned. I loved every single one of his stories. At least I could trust the writer. Somewhere around this point I picked up the first season of Sherlock, purely on the strength of the sticker on the front that said 'created by Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss'. Again, hooked in an instant.

And then The Eleventh Hour hit and I swept up in the madness and pure brilliance of the Elventh Doctor and genius fairytale adventure that Steven Moffat was taking us on.

In my opinion, of all the Doctor Who episodes Steven Moffat has written, only The Beast Below and The Doctor, The Widow and The Wardrobe don't absolutely shine in my memory. I still enjoy them both, though.

But let's look at a wider audience, yeah?

The Hugo Awards have a category for Best Dramatic Presentation Short Form. Since the 2006 awards (which covered work produced in 2005), out of 8 awards given in this category, Doctor Who won 6 times. Of those 6 wins, 4 were awarded to Steven Moffat penned stories (The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances, The Girl In The Fireplace, Blink, The Big Bang/The Pandorica Opens). Only once in that time was Steven Moffat not nominated for Doctor Who, being the 2010 awards as he did not write any of the 2009 specials.

In 2013 Steven Moffat episodes came 2nd, 3rd and 4th respectively to Game of Thrones: Blackwater. In 2012 A Good Man Goes To War came 3rd behind 2 other Doctor Who episodes. In 2009 The Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead came 2nd to Doctor Horrible's Singalong Blog.

This year, I have no doubt that Moffat will be on the ballot again. I'll certainly be nominating. Along with a couple of thousand other hard core SF/F fans. After all, you have to be a paid up member of WorldCon to vote. It's not just a random online poll.

Steven Moffat created the alien that freaks me out - The Weeping Angels - and makes the ordinary scary.

Steven Moffat gave me River Song - a woman Who could go toe to toe with the Doctor and win the argument.

Steven Moffat isn't afraid to play with time, something that a show about a time travelling alien seems to have done rarely in the past.

Steven Moffat does the unexpected, making me shriek in surpise.

Steven Moffat writes memorable, quotable dialogue that I use in every day life.

Steven Moffat creates mysteries that make my brain hurt, but seeds the clues so that it makes sense in the end (to me, anyway).

Steven Moffat gave me MY Doctor.

Steven Moffat has made me laugh.

Steven Moffat has made me cry.

Steven Moffat has given me Doctor Who that I will watch over and over and love to pieces.

If you don't like it, that's fine. But there are a lot of us out here that love it. Please don't taint that with mindless, nasty bile.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

The Green Death

Encouraged by an essay in a certain book that I will review soon, I have turned my attention to Season 10 of the classic series again (well I did enjoy The Three Doctors). A few weeks ago I watched the final episode of that season, The Green Death.

And yes, I did think more of it than 'ew maggots'. Although there was much 'ew maggots' going on.

I love Jo Grant. I really, really do. The impression I got from listening to fandom was that she was a blonde ditz in inappropriate clothing. She is so much more than that (and I want her shoes!). I have now seen Jo in two Doctor Who stories and one Sarah Jane Adventures story and the strongest impression I get from her is passion. Give her a cause and she will fight for it with everything that she has. When she believes in something, she is tenacious and will even disobey the Doctor.

Jo Grant also does not like being treated like she is stupid. She's not stupid. She's just not a scientist. In The Green Death, she offers her help in going to down the mine, stating that she has first aid training that might be needed. When the Professor is ignoring her in the lab, she takes herself off to trap a maggot for him to study. Yes, it ultimately doesn't work out, but that was because the Brigadier called in an air strike, not because she wasn't capable. I really liked Jo in this story.

The other main thing I noted about The Green Death, is how relevant it is to what is here and now, in the twenty-first century. There is renewable energy (the nuthutch runs on water and wind power), environmental issues (the whole point of the story is that Global Chemicals is pumping it's waste into the old mine shaft and causing disaster and giant poisonous maggots), issues with the dangers of Artificial Intelligence (Global Chemicals is being run by a hypnotising computer obsessed with efficiency), globalisation (the Brigadier's original orders are to help Global Chemicals - they are global and have friends in high places), and corporate responsibility (the character Elgin sees many discrepancies with what his bosses are saying and wants to stop everything while the deaths are investigated, particularly when he discovers that they are indeed dumping their waste). All these issues are highly topical and relevant today. Even more so than in the 1970s, when this was aired.

Jumping to the end, I was struck by how heartbroken the Third Doctor was when Jo decided to stay with Professor Jones, get married and then travel up the Amazon. The image of him slipping out, climbing into Bessie and riving off into the night is very poignant. Even in his early days, losing his companions hurt.

All in all, I really loved this story. Next up I have another story from season 10 to watch. Carnival of Monsters, here I come!

Friday, 11 January 2013

SPOILERS: The Snowmen

So, the Doctor Who Christmas Special 2012 - also known as Moffatt Broke My Brain... Again!

I've only seen it twice, and it's already disappeared from ABC's iView, unfortunately. But oh my goodness, it was brilliant! Completely bonkers, but that is how I like my Doctor Who.

This was very much the Clara Show. It was probably always going to be like that, because it's her proper introduction after all. Well, so we thought.

The look of the show was fabulous. The Snowmen and the snowflakes were suitably creepy and the BBC always knows how to do Victorian London. The most magical moment was when Clara followed the Doctor and climbed the invisible wrought iron staircase through the clouds to where the TARDIS was parked. Pure fairytale.

Madame Vastra and Jenny were back, married by now, and full of snark. The scene where they interrogated Clara using the one word method was marvellous. Also, I love the idea of them being Conan Doyle's inspiration for Sherlock Holmes. Strax has been resurrected - even the Doctor isn't entirely sure how. He was very much relegated to comic relief, but Dan Starkey pulled it off beautifully. The scene where he was trying to get the memory work in order to wipe Clara's last hour was hilarious, even more so because Clara could see what was about to happy and also found it funny. She was definitely representing the audience at the moment.

The Doctor had done exactly what both River and Amy had warned him against and completely withdrawn. However, unlike Ten (who travelled on his own and got into trouble), Eleven has retired. He's picked a moment in history where he has friends to watch out for him, picked his cloud and retired. The only sign of the Ponds is Amy's reading glasses, now used by the Doctor. He's very reluctant to investigate anything until Clara comes up with the magic word. He then gets dragged into events because, really he never can resist a good mystery. The bow tie is back and he's off an running.

The chemistry between the Doctor and Clara is absolutely magnificent. He now has someone who can talk just as fast as he can. I pity my poor brain, trying to keep up with the banter for the rest of the season.

Clara. She's clearly a consummate actress, switching from low class barmaid to high class Mary Poppins with ease. And she definitely has the curiosity that all good companions need. Enough so that she chases after the Doctor no matter how many times he tries to get rid of her. She's smart, figuring out why the Doctor grabbed the umbrella. She's so good, that the Doctor gives her a key to the TARDIS straight off.

And then she dies.

Clara Oswin Oswald, born 23 November.

Souffle Girl.

Two different times. Two different places. Two different deaths. Echoes of personality and conversation.

The Doctor is definitely hooked.

She seems to be shattered through time and space, different shards of the same person interacting with the Doctor's time line. But how and why? Only Mr Moffat can tell us.

In the end, the villain and the plot didn't really make much of an impression on me (somewhat of a waste of the acting talents of Richard E Grant and Ian McKellan). I haven't seen enough of classic Who yet for the Great Intelligence to mean much to me. This was about Clara.

I suspect I'll be saying that a lot this year. I can't wait.

Monday, 31 December 2012

SPOILERS - The Angels Take Manhattan

Yes, I am at least 3 months late with this post. My excuse is the difficulty of watching the damned thing without crying. Today is the closest I've come to it and there were still tears at certain points where Murray Gold's music swelled. Damn you Murray!

So, the final farewell to the Ponds. As you can probably tell by all the crying, I loved it!

I know there were plot holes (The Statue of Liberty is not made of stone, and also, how could it not have been seen?), but I just don't care. This entire series 7a hasn't really been about plot. It's been about the emotional stories. The relationship between Amy and Rory. The relationship between the Ponds and the Doctor. The Doctor's guilt over the effect he has unintentionally had on people(his comments about the victims in A Town Called Mercy). The relationship between the Doctor and River in this episode.

Speaking of which, River was very interesting here. Now a Professor, out of prison because the Doctor doesn't exist any more, she musn't be too far away from the library. It was definitely an older, calmer, more mature River. It showed in the friction between them when the Doctor healed her wrist, only for her to slap him. Will we see her again? I suspect she will be at Trenzalore, but that may not be for a while. With Amy and Rory gone though, some of River's relevance is also gone.

Rory. Goddess, I'm going to miss Rory. I'm not all that attached to Amy. I don't hate her or anything, but she's not quite Donna. I adore Rory though, and his relationship with the Doctor was much different to most. Perhaps a somewhat more mature, adult relationship than what many other companions have had. He sees the Doctor's flaws and had to actually grow to like him rather than being awed by him right from the start. His first reaction to the TARDIS and his conversation with the Doctor at the end of The Girl Who Waited come to mind.

What else can I say about the episode, apart from the two 'death' scenes turned me into a complete wreck?

I did like the film noir style to it, and Amy playing pooh sticks amused me. Oh! I'm still competely terrified of the weeping angels. Goddammit those cherubs were fucking creepy with their freaky giggle. *shivers* Definitely the scariest part of the episode.

I guess that's it. The Ponds are gone and this blog post is finally done. Next up, either my trip to the Doctor Who Symphonic Spectacular or The Snowmen, depending on my mood.