Sunday, 2 July 2017

Doctor Who Series 10 First Impressions: Episode 12 (The Doctor Falls)

Really, it was the only way Series 10 could have gone out.

And they lived happily ever after.
I'm trying something different here. I've not rewatched the episode yet. I'm letting my words stand on the initial viewing I did last night for once. This is partly because I forgot to PVR it and can't wrangle out a rewatch method immediately due to shenanigans and can't wait, but also sort of a new take. I've called these "First Impressions" but they're honestly second impressions because I always do a rewatch and take notes. Not today. For the last episode of this series, for the penultimate episode of Peter Capaldi's run and of the Moffat era, we will do a true First Impression. Or rather, we already did because the above line I started this all with is my first impression. For better or worse, this is Steven Moffat at his Steven Moffattiest. And now we pad time before talking about the ending by talking about everything else before it. The stuff that matters. Here, then, is The Doctor Falls.

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Doctor Who Series 10 First Impressions: Episode 11 (World Enough And Time)

Holy shit. What a state of flux to be left in.

I'm seein' double! FOUR Masters!
By now I'm used to playing in a state of flux when it comes to these two-part episodes. I'm still casting my mind back to Nov. 2014 and Dark Water, when this was a new thing for me to write about. Since then we had an entire series worth of two parters, and more. Some turned out good, some turned out bad. Dark Water seems like a good comparison point to start with World Enough And Time. In a way, we're hitting a lot of those plot beats again. The death of a character. Cybermen and body horror. The end episode reveal of OH SHIT IT WAS THE MASTER ALL ALONG. Writing it out like that, it sounds like I should be infuriated at the episode for rehashing all this shit; much like I was when Lie Of The Land happened. I'm not, and that's probably because the rest of the episode glues together. This was a hell of an episode of television, despite one or two little gripes based on past experience and that state of flux we're left in before the other half drops. As of now it's in my top three... somewhere, but I don't know which one of my previous top three to bump off for it. I won't worry about that yet until we get to the series ranking in a week or two. For now... World Enough And Time.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Doctor Who Series 10 First Impressions: Episode 10 (The Eaters Of Light)

I don't have an easy summary for this one beyond "it's fine" so let's just launch on into it.

It's okay, everyone. I speak glowing tentacle.
This is one of the ones this year I was a little excited for, considering the pedigree of the writer. Rona Munro wrote the final story of classic Doctor Who, Survival, and that's one which I quite like. After a long writing career she came back to Doctor Who for this. I don't know anything about her writing career other than writing a 28 year-old story that capped off old Doctor Who, so I've no clue how her style evolved or anything. Aside from one similar shot, this episode has nary a thing to do with Survival so we're going to ignore it for the time being. Instead we'll just plunge on in to... The Eaters Of Light.

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Doctor Who Series 10 First Impressions: Episode 9 (Empress Of Mars)

That's a marked improvement over last week. Thank goodness for it.

"Allow me to break the ice. My name is Iraxxa.
Learn it well, for it is the chilling sound of your doom!"
Mark Gatiss! He's probably Doctor Who's best mid-tier quality episode writer. Sometimes he pens a dud and sometimes he pens a classic of the series. I won't go over his Doctor Who stories in short summation, save for the two I've already looked at in the Capaldi era. Robot Of Sherwood was a fine bit of welcome fluff for the early Capaldi era when we weren't sure about this callous new guy. Not a classic of Series 8, but somewhere in the middle? Possibly lower back since Series 8 was really quite consistently good. Sleep No More is a little more interesting, as it's Gatiss getting a little experimental and doing Doctor Who: Found Footage Edition. Yeah, okay, walking snot monsters and all that but he tried something new and it mostly worked. Also I maintain that the twist ending is still one of the scariest bits of conceptual horror in recent memory on Doctor Who. And now Mark Gatiss is doing the Ice Warriors! Again! He brought them back in 2013 for the 50th after like 40 years and it worked. Now he's done it again and it doesn't work AS well as Cold War... but after the contemptuous dull dud we went through last week? I'll take a mid-tier Gatiss episode like a man dying of thirst. Let's take a quick stroll through... Empress Of Mars.

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Doctor Who Series 10 First Impressions: Episode 8 (The Lie Of The Land)


It's not a Before The Flood level of hecking up a good setup, but it still left me wanting.

The Monks are your friends. This is a good episode.
Toby Whithouse is amazing at Doctor Who.
Actually, let's go with that. What did I say last week? "Hecking it up, in this case, would be the Monks ruling planet Earth like a bunch of dictators. Or not following up on the theme of consent and it being healthy.". So within the first three goddamn minutes we heck this up because the actual literal thought police burst in and rush a woman off to the labor camps for 10 years for not believing in the lie of the Monks and making propaganda of this. WHOOPS! I was even ready to play ball with the whole opening monologue from the Doctor about how the Monks have helped us and that all they ask for is obedience... but sweet christ.
It still works with the "fear is inefficient" model and "we need to be loved" and all that but good GOD. I was expecting something a little more meaty and interesting, a world that's imperfect because it's not our Doctor Who world but one that's at least somewhat improved by the Monks. What we get is a drab bland dystopia where everyone wears black and there's an actual literal fucking thought police dedicated to catching people who don't believe the lie of the Monks! At one point in a Bill monologue she mentions that someone was sentenced to 10 years for owning comics! What the actual fuck?  It's going extra to show that this is a bad world that should be torn down, but it didn't really need to do that; the fact that it's not "our" Doctor Who world is enough for the audience to want that. Then again, this is the same guy who thought he needed to telegraph a fucking predestination paradox in the opening of his last episode so I get the vibe that he doesn't trust the audience to pick up on subtlety.

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Doctor Who Series 10 First Impressions: Episode 7 (The Pyramid At The End Of The World)

(Hey it's a Doctor Who thing and there's spoilers for it.)

If nothing else, now I'm really excited for next week.

Google didn't have any better pictures so this will
have to do.
Okay, we really are sort of playing about in that fun state of quantum flux between weeks. This exact reaction to The Pyramid At The End Of The World is only possible within the next six days; once the next episode drops and we have a realization of the consequences of this one's ending, my perceptions are going to change massively. Funny enough, the last time this happened was another joint by Peter Harness from 16 months ago; the Zygon Inv__ two-parter. There are one or two parallels to be drawn here between those episodes and Pyramid, but we'll have to save that. What we have in the meantime is a neat setup playing off of the previous setup of Extremis. I like this episode fine, which is a bit of an inversion (HEH) of how I felt about the first half of Peter Harness's previous job. Really, the vibe I get here is of Under The Lake; an interesting premise with an ending that can lead to some really clever bits if they follow up their own themes in the ways I'm expecting and hoping for. That should terrify me considering how much of a fucking botch job I thought Before The Flood was, but I have a little more faith this time. Whether or not it will be unwarranted... well, those of you reading this on the day it's written are just going to have to wait along with me. Anyone from the future coming in already knows if The Lie Of The Land fucked up or not, but hey. Fingers crossed, right? Good. Let's talk about this show a little bit before we get to the specifics of what crackles about it.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Doctor Who Series 10 First Impression: Episode 6 (Extremis)

(Doctor Who impressions! Spoilers! Yep!)


The Doctor as President? This simulation is already better
than reality.
So here we are, back again with a High Concept Steven Moffat Episode that also furthers along the arc of the series, so to speak. It's absolutely a very good One Of Those, despite my usual gripes about a Steven Moffat arc that I've had already. More to the point... I should be careful what I fucking wish for. On my pal Rainiac's Doctor Who podcast thing, I have expressed a desire for more weird shit to happen. I probably said that after we did Knock Knock and I was let down by how stock it was. Well, THE FINGER SURE DID FUCKIN CURL ON THAT MONKEY'S PAW DIDN'T IT? Moffat threw a bunch of shit into a blender and made another Doctor Who smoothie. This isn't just "Doctor Who Does X", this is "Doctor Who Does A WHOLE BUNCH OF BULLSHIT AT ONCE". Lovecraftian undertones of an understanding of the universe beyond our human comprehension, mixed with equal parts Star Trek, Hitchhiker's Guide, The Dark Tower, The Mind Robber, The Happening, and Undertale. Garnish with Moffat tropes and you have your Doctor Who smoothie for this week. Fuck it, get my bendy straw. We're going in full throttle with this one.