(Man, this is great. And so perfectly tailored to my interests! Why, it's almost as if someone at Google has been reading all of the emails I send, particularly the ones in which I share my deepest wishes regarding foreign countries where I'd rather live. Weird.)
Good morning, nerds!
As part of Doctor Who's big 50th anniversary bash this year, the BBC has announced its plan to release 11 short stories set in the Who-niverse written by beloved and popular children's book authors. While the authors haven't been confirmed yet, at the top of the list of likely candidates is none other than J.K. Rowling; others include Michelle Paver, Susan Price, Kate Thompson, Anthony Horowitz, Geraldine McCaughrean, Philip Pullman and Alan Garner. (Via io9, from Hypable.)
Not exactly iron-clad reporting, that, and I'm guessing there's more than a little wishful thinking there, but still: The possibility of Rowling and/or Pullman writing some Doctor Who stuff is... yes. That's an excellent idea. Combined with the fact that Neil Gaiman is writing an upcoming episode featuring Warwick Davis and whoa weird did I really type that because it sounds like something I would drunkenly make up and then loudly tell about in excruciating detail to anyone unfortunate enough to be near me at the moment, probably accompanied with elaborate storyboards drawn on cocktail napkins.
In what marks me as either a terrible person and/or pathetic nerd, if I had been the one to find a misplaced, top-secret script for Neil Gaiman's upcoming Doctor Who episode, just sitting there in the back of a cab, waiting to be taken? I probably would have kept it.
Full story here—including some info about what Warwick Davis is up to these days! (PSSST!!! He's in Neil Gaiman's upcoming Doctor Who episode!) Please note that municipal Blogtown bylaws require that the below video be posted any and every time Warwick Davis' name is mentioned on Blogtown. I have thus posted it, and I wish you a good morning.
BOBBY: With the gentlest of taps on the shoulder, we close the book on "The Angels Take Manhattan," season seven's half-season finale, and the end of the Ponds' tenure as companions to the Eleventh Doctor. But so many questions at the beginning of the episode! How do we get to that ending? Why are we watching a hard-boiled gumshoe talk to the tubby bald guy from Whose Line is it Anyway? How the hell is River Song going to factor into th—wait, I know the answer to that one: with a storytelling shoehorn and almost no real justification whatsoever. Because that's River's thing now. But the biggest question isn't how we get to that ending. It's whether we feel the feels we're supposed to feel when we get there. Erik?
ERIK: I feel that this episode boasted the best use of Sting ever. Because the Doctor is an Englishman! In New York! Whoa! He's an alien! He's a legal alien! He's an Englishman in New York! Let's listen to it now.
BOBBY: Firstly, the Doctor isn't an Englishman, he's from Gallifrey. Secondly, we're in the middle of a recap an—
ERIK: Whoa-oh! He's an alien! He's a legal alien! He's an Englishman in New York!
Welcome to our fourth-ever, supposedly-weekly Doctor Who recap/bullshit session, which is a thing I made up in order to trick the Mercury into paying for my Doctor Who season pass on iTunes. I'm Erik Henriksen, senior editor at the Mercury, and I'm joined by Bobby Roberts, the Mercury's calendar editor. Every Monday we'll talk about the previous weekend's episode of Doctor Who, and all of our opinions will be 100 percent correct, even if they conflict with one other. Or conflict with yours. Speaking of which, if you've got thoughts of your own regarding the Doctor, Amy, Rory, or slug pellets, put 'em in the comments. Geronimo, etc.
ERIK: Cubes! Cubes everywhere! All sorts of tiny cubes! But are they cubes... or are they metaphors for how we keep things around even when we don't need them in our lives??? Like the Ponds keep the Doctor around, maybe? Or like the Doctor keeps the Ponds around, maybe? I feel like this episode had a lot of emotional stuff going on but I also just keep remembering the Return of the Jedi-era Darth Vader hologram who was CubeMaster or whatever.
BOBBY: This was a charmingly scattered house of cards that writer Chris Chibnall built. The last time he wrote an episode, Dinosaurs on a Spaceship, he introduced Rory's dad, Brian, who is one of my favorite characters in recent years, right up there with goofy-ass Craig, father of Stormageddon. Brian is back, and maybe speaking to that metaphor you're dancing around, he seems to exist mostly as a walking punchline who every now and again checks the Doctor's impressive chin with reminders not to get his son and his daughter in-law killed. This adds some unexpected poignancy to what is otherwise a really fun, silly episode.
Welcome to our second-ever, supposedly-weekly Doctor Who recap/bullshit session, which is a thing I made up in order to trick the Mercury into paying for my Doctor Who season pass on iTunes. I'm Erik Henriksen, senior editor at the Mercury, and I'm joined by Bobby Roberts, the Mercury's calendar editor. Every Monday we'll talk about the previous weekend's episode of Doctor Who, and all of our opinions will be 100 percent correct, even if they conflict with one other. Or conflict with yours. Speaking of which, if you've got thoughts of your own regarding the Doctor, Amy, Rory, or why Stetsons are cool, put 'em in the comments. Geronimo, etc.
ERIK: At long last, my dream of a Deadwood and Doctor Who crossover happened! Sort of. Close enough, anyway. While A Town Called Mercy could've used more Al Swearengen, everything could use more Al Swearengen, so I'm not going to hold that against it, and instead I'm just gonna be glad that here was an Western starring the Doctor, which combines two of my favorite genres in a way that was way better than Cowboys & Aliens.
BOBBY: Shit, now that you mention it, the BBC getting Ian McShane isn't like, an impossibility. They've gotten Toby Jones, they've gotten Bill Nighy, they've gotten Kylie Minogue, dammit. This is a deprivation I didn't even know I was suffering, and my previously sunny morning has been plunged into a leathery despair, wearing a frown named Swidgin. If there is no Ian McShane on Doctor Who (ooh! Or as the Doctor) in the next two years, Steven Moffat is going on the list.
ERIK: This episode started off clunky for me, but it kicked into gear when the Doctor decided to sacrifice... uh, the other doctor. The alien one. The other alien one. The Oppenheimer-meets-Mengele-with-a-Mike Tyson-face-tattoo one! Yeah, that dude. It was then that one of the best, and also one of the core tenets behind Doctor Who got bumped to the fore: The fact that the Doctor has an infallible need to solve problems by taking the higher moral ground, by avoiding violence, by using his brain. Seeing him lose his shit for a minute—seeing him question whether or mercy is, in fact, always the right choice—gave us a glimpse into the Doctor's head that isn't usually given, because he's usually got to be the hero. The Doctor's foray into cold pragmatism might've been brief (I feel like it could've, and maybe should've, been explored more), but it was a sharp reminder of both why he needs companions like Amy and why the whole intellect and romance over brute force and cynicism thing, idealistic as it is, is kind of the only way for the Doctor to roll.
BOBBY: I think all the episodes have started off clunky. I've got no problem with being dropped into a story in media res, but there's not even a preliminary introduction to anything so far this season. In fact, these three episodes all seem to be structured like classic Simpsons episodes: You think it's going one way, and in 2 minutes something has spun out of that initial premise that becomes the actual story. I'm hesitant to call this out as a bad thing, though. Yeah, it's disorienting, but it also gives the audience credit that they're going to catch up to where the plot is actually going. Once could argue this increases immersion into the show's fictional universe, as it allows the audience themselves to feel like how Amy & Rory must constantly feel, following this fast-talking crazy-person, forever spewing sentence fragments and rhetorical questions into the atmosphere.
ERIK: Another thing I liked about this one was how it did what the best Moffat-run Doctor Who episodes, do— it appealed first on that goofy, pulpy, macro level (aliens in the Old West! A terminator cowboy!), but did so as a way to crack open the characters. You think it's broad strokes, but it's deceptively subtle; like last week's episode, "Dinosaurs on a Spaceship," the ridiculousness of it all is the hook, but by its end, the episode was less about intergalactic war criminals at high noon than it was earnest character moments. "Frightened people... give me a dalek any day," says the Doctor after talking down one more inane human, but he keeps hanging around us, and this episode dug into why a bit. I kind of hope it gets dug into a little bit more further on.
BOBBY: I don't disagree with any of this, but I still found the episode kind of bland and shrug-worthy. It wasn't bad. It just didn't stick to my brain the way Asylum of the Daleks or Dinosaurs on a Spaceship did. It reminds me of Series 5, which opened with two great episodes The Eleventh Hour and The Beast Below and then coughed up a dramatic non-starter featuring Churchill and some tea-peddling Daleks for its third. A couple great moments, yes ("Would you like some tea?" in that episode, the Doctor actually pulling a gun on another doctor in this one) but overall, I deem it skip-worthy when the season rewatch comes around later this year. Also, Amy & Rory seemed to exist solely to be taken hostage, and to drop hints about how they don't really gallavant with the Doctor anymore, these are more like impromptu vacations they take every now and again. Maybe that's just set-up for next week's episode (the "Next Week on" seems to confirm) but it also makes me wary that there's a twisty-turny plotty thingamajig Moffat's waiting to spring on us in a future episode that will make all these episodes tie together in some convoluted way that hurts my head, like pretty much the entirety of Series 6 did.
ERIK: I would also like to note that this episode costarred Ben Browder, who played That Guy Who Took Over for MacGyver on Stargate SG-1.
BOBBY: What the fuck is a Stargate SG-1?
Welcome to our first-ever, supposedly-weekly Doctor Who recap post/bullshit session, which is a thing I made up in order to trick the Mercury into paying for my Doctor Who season pass on iTunes. I'm Erik Henriksen, senior editor at the Mercury, and I'm joined by Bobby Roberts, the Mercury's calendar editor. Every Monday we'll talk about the previous weekend's episode of Doctor Who, and all of our opinions will be 100 percent correct, even if they conflict with one other. Or conflict with yours. Speaking of which, if you've got thoughts of your own regarding the Doctor, Amy, Rory, or friendly ceratopsids, put 'em in the comments. Geronimo, etc.
ERIK: This weekend's Doctor Who felt like it was written with the help of a Mad Libs book: Dinosaurs! Spaceship! Queen Nefertiti! Robots! Ron Weasley's dad! Argus Filch! That one guy from Sherlock! Amy Pond with a gun! Crashing spaceship! Indian space command! A triceratops who acts like a golden retriever! The daring Doctor making jokes but then poignantly revealing his unexpectedly melancholy interior! Wait. That last one happens every episode. Still: I kind of thought this one was great?
BOBBY: It was pretty great. Something called Dinosaurs on a Spaceship probably should feel like an old-school, Tom Baker-era episode of Doctor Who, except on a massive sugar high. I'll admit, as one of those fans who pays close attention to the writing credits so as to make a pre-emptive judgment about the quality of the episode, seeing Chris Chibnall's (Torchwood) name on the credits had me wary: He's written a lot of not-good stuff. He also apparently has a "pterodactyl" key on his laptop. But damned if he didn't churn out one of the most fun/funny episodes of recent years.
ERIK: First, I would like to have a "pterodactyl" key on my keyboard as well. SECOND. I'll admit it wasn't the best-written or most profound Doctor Who, and I'll admit that it wasn't as good as last week's season opener, "Asylum of the Daleks," which I thought pretty much nailed everything I like about Doctor Who. But it did continue the trend started by "Daleks," which is that this season seems a lot more focused on self-contained episodes that do a lot in their runtime versus last season's arc-based episodes that frequently felt like they hadn't done enough. If last year's arc had been more satisfying, I think I'd feel differently, but mostly it just seemed to take away from the anything-goes, witty, wildly imaginative, sometimes creepy pulp stuff that I think Doctor Who does so well. I might not have been terribly invested in the emotional stakes of "Dinosaurs on a Spaceship," but then, it's called "Dinosaurs on a Spaceship," and there were certainly dinosaurs on a spaceship, and that was about as fun as one could imagine it being, and the second I complain about anything that has dinosaurs on a spaceship (and Amy Pond shooting velociraptors) you can rest assured I've probably given up on finding any sort of happiness in life.
BOBBY: I think I liked it better than "Asylum," myself. "Asylum" didn't do Amy Pond's character any favors. For example: "I divorced you because I know you wanted a kid but I cant have a kid so instead of sitting down and talking about it I just kicked you out after years of essentially treating you like a second tier co-star in my life and then threw my 'sacrifice' in your face after you dared to mention you'd waited 2,000 years outside of a box for me."
But in this episode, she's back to Series 5 levels of cleverness, adorableness, resourcefulness, and ass-kickery; levels mirrored by Rory, and surpassed by Rory's dad, who in a throwaway moment that made me burst out into incredulous laughter, slaps a pterodactyl in the face with a garden trowel, before himself bursting into incredulous laughter at finding himself flying a spaceship full of dinosaurs. The entire episode is structured like the preceding, pretzeled-up sentence: It's deliriously ridiculous.
ERIK: I have complete faith the comment thread will soon be full of people telling us how wrong we are and how much better David Tennant is and how velociraptors don't even look like that and why didn't the Doctor use his sonic screwdriver on the robots and etc. So that should be fun. LET'S DO THIS, NERDS.
Here are Matt Smith and Karen Gillan singing the theme for Doctor Who. It is, as Topless Robot points out, absolutely terrible. HOWEVER. ALERT:
Starting next Monday, we're gonna start doing weekly Doctor Who posts on Blogtown, with each post corresponding to the previous Saturday's episode. They won't be full-on recaps so much as a spot for everyone who watches Doctor Who (which, if the overflowing crowd at the TARDIS Room's screening of the last weekend's premiere was any indication, are legion) to gather around and talk about that week's episode. Either myself or Bobby Roberts will kick things off with something like, "Here's what was great and/or awful about this week's Doctor Who!" and then everybody else can weigh in with their (probably incorrect) opinons about those things, or other things, or how much better David Tennant was than Matt Smith or whatever (like I said, they'll probably be incorrect). We'll talk about time paradoxes and sonic screwdrivers and Rory's new haircut and the TARDIS and my undying, eternal devotion for Amy Pond which, if last week's episode was any indication, will very likely be facing a very serious challenge with the introduction of this season's new companion, who is rather fetching.
Moving on. So! That is that. I'm telling you now so that you can watch last week's eggs-cellent season premiere if you haven't already*, and then you can watch this Saturday night's episode so we can talk about it on Monday. The episode we're gonna be kicking this thing off with is "Dinosaurs on a Spaceship." Dinosaurs! On a spaceship!
*at which point you'll "get" my stupid "eggs-cellent" joke, insomuch as it can be "gotten," at least, because oh man it is stupid. I can't believe I even typed it out. And now I'm just making it worse oh god
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