Sunday, 2 January 2022

Doctor Who First Impressions: New Year's Day 2022 Special (Eve Of The Daleks)

2022! We have made it to the new frontier! A brave new year and brave new world of infinite possibility, untold promise, and some incredible things on the horizon for me and the blog. Pity, then, that we have to deal with Chris Chibnall today instead of any of that. This, at least, is the beginning of the end for Chibnall's Who. The raw scar tissue of Flux has yet to heal, and I remain pretty well checked out of Chibnall's nonsense. At the very least, this episode's fine. I say fine, even though I have issues with it, but it clears certain low bars for me that the man tripped right over during the latter half of Flux. There is a certain sense of... adequacy here. A little depressing that not majorly fucking up is the best bar Chibnall can clear (and, again, believe you and me he fucked up one or two things here as I'll get to) but let's discuss the Perfectly Fine-Ish Romp of Eve Of The Daleks.

Well, that premise is an interesting one, isn't it? We haven't really done a proper Time Loop story like this before in Doctor Who, as far as I can recall. Sure, we have Heaven Sent, but that is its own beast and even I'm not going to be so unfair to Chibnall as to compare his holiday fluff to fucking Heaven Sent. I'll be nice for a moment. The idea is a good one. A desperate escape attempt against the Daleks which keeps ending in failure, extermination, and a near-reset with all memories retained of your previous loops. The clock advancing by a minute with each near-reset also makes things finite and adds extra stakes. We can't fuck up too many times, or else we'll skip ahead too far and some or all of us will be Dead For Good. In many ways, the concept was spoiled by me knowing about it. Oh, to be a fly on the wall for an unspoiled viewer who doesn't know the premise of the episode. Getting 9 minutes in and then the Doctor and pals get exterminated, then we get the title card drop. Holy hot goddamn. If they had extra time it might have been funnier to keep dropping the title card, but that trolling would get a bit old. Maybe if the story had less resets, but that's wishful thinking at this point. Either way, what I'm saying is that on paper it is a very good idea with a lot of potential. Where does Chibnall place that potential? Hoo boy. This is where it gets messy.

Monday, 27 December 2021

Frezno's Games Of The 2021 Thing!

Well, here we go again! The last blog post of 2021! Just think, a year ago I was in the weeds of finishing Symphogear, and now look at me! I'm... well, I'm still thinking about that show. I've got some bangers planned for 2022, and you'll probably see them as soon as the year turns over and we get all the holiday stuff back up in the attic. For now, before the year ends, we're here to talk about COMPUTER VIDEO GAMES! Admittedly I didn't play too many of those this year, but I played enough to make a list out of 'em! So let us do that, as we so annually do, right now, and start with...

Monday, 6 December 2021

Doctor Who Series 13 First Impressions: Episode 6 (Flux Chapter Six: The Vanquishers)

Jesus Christ. Maybe it's just the fact that I woke up early and kinda fell asleep watching other stuff this morning, but for a solid minute there I just stared at this blank Notepad file wondering what in the hell to say. Even now I'm just rambling, but that at least is thematically relevant to what we got. The Vanquishers, the grand conclusion to the Epic Six Part Event that was Flux, calls to mind T.S. Eliot. This is the way Flux ends: a whimper disguised as a bang. A massive roller coaster ride of aliens and explosions and the threatened end of everything, all wearing the trappings of excitement and fun, but bringing me no real substansial joy. The story of the Chibnall era, I suppose. It once again has very little to say about anything beyond wrapping up itself, but that didn't piss me off as much as last time because it felt less lore-obsessed, if that makes sense. Let me try and dive in some more.

Monday, 29 November 2021

Doctor Who Series 13 First Impressions: Episode 5 (Flux Chapter Five: Survivors Of The Flux)


I did not enjoy this. I very much did not enjoy this. Given that it invokes, repeats, and doubles down on the Shocking Revelations Of The Timeless Children, it invites direct comparison with that particular episode. That episode, as your reminder, was a hot mess that made even a hot mess like The Rise Of Skywalker look good by comparison. They were both running on similar registers of Shocking Revelations About The Protagonist's Origins, and seemingly rejecting those origins at the end in favor of some other ideal the protagonist believed in strongly. At the time, I found The Timeless Children hilarious. Reaching So Bad It's Good levels, both in how brazen and unbelievable its sincerity was and the complete joke it made out of the Cybermen with stuff like "I want to turn the Cybermen into Just Robots" and the fucking Cyber Time Lords. It was funny. I was laughing. Other people weren't, and I respect that because I understand now. Survivors Of The Flux has aired, and I'm not laughing either. Okay, that's partially a lie, some of the Shocking Revelations got the laughs out of me, but in general I'm not laughing. This isn't funny. It's dire.

Monday, 22 November 2021

Doctor Who Series 13 First Impressions: Episode 4 (Flux Chapter Four: Village Of The Angels)

Two kind of gonzo episodes of Doctor Who in a row in the Chibnall era? What, did they hear me or something? We're 2/3rds of the way through Flux now, and that dreaded shit I keep mentioning is starting to come into play now. Chibnall passing the buck and delaying answering things in order to raise more intrigue and keep the viewer on the hook. At this point, the delayed narrative tactic is Chibnall Who's equivalent of a magical girl betrayal arc for me; it's a storytelling element that, done poorly, makes me wary of any flirtation with it in subsequent media. Unlike the rest of Flux, Chapter Four here actually has a cowrite with Maxine Alderton. As we did back in Series 12, one has to be careful not to fall into the biased trap of stating sincerely "every strength in the episode was due to Alderton and every weakness was due to Chibnall". It's extra tricky this week because... well, get me out of this pitfall, because it feels kind of true. You can feel Chibnall's fingerprints on key parts of the episode, and those are the parts that don't hold up. Before we get into those, let's get into what does work. Let's get into the Angels.

Wednesday, 17 November 2021

Doctor Who Series 13 First Impressions: Episode 3 (Flux Chapter Three: Once, Upon Time)

Chibnall is still Chibnall, but I do appreciate the freshness of him giving us a different flavor of Chibnall. With Chapter 3 of Flux, God help us, we can add the phrase "Gonzo Chibnall" to our lexicon. A strange, ethereal dream of a nonlinear episode that floats fractured in time, delving into the realm of memory and premonition, expositing and teasing and explaining in equal measure while also dropping a whopper of crackling metaphysical concepts. What's not to like? Well, it's a Chibnall, so it doesn't quite hit the highest of highs and actually pokes some unfortunate lows. The strange ethereal dreamlike quality feels like it reflects Chibnall's writing process up to this point, as he cribs so much half-remembered detritus from the driftwood of memory of the RTD years. This time, at least, he seems to have half-remembered Steven Moffat had some good driftwood in the past. Again, I appreciate the freshness of that, if nothing else. Of course, as so many of the Moffat fans who form my little corner of the Internet have pointed out, a Moffat-penned episode would have been good.

Monday, 8 November 2021

Doctor Who Series 13 First Impressions: Episode 2 (Flux Chapter Two: War Of The Sontarans)

Welcome back to part two of the grandiose adventure Flux has laid out for us! War Of The Sontarans is, in a lot of ways, very telling in what it is. With a few tweaks, it could be its own standalone episode. One can easily imagine a version of this with some stuff shuffled around and the B plot replaced with some other B plot that tied into the whole Sontaran thing. Last time I mentioned the numerous hooks dangling about waiting to be tugged on, and they are less tugged on in this episode than left mildly dangling in the breeze as another hook is added to one line. There's a real danger there, but we'll get to that when we get to the B plot. Why don't we kick off by talking about the resolution to that intense cliffhanger from last week, where the Flux was rampaging straight for the TARDIS? The question lingering over our heads in temporal grace for the last week was, how will Doctor Who and her friends get out of this one?