Doctor Who: The Caretaker First Impressions

This one felt kind of weak to me, I’m not sure if that because of the general tone, or because of all the “The Doctor is being pissy and jealous” stuff.

  • I think that Clara is starting to learn that the Doctor and a normal life are incompatible on the whole.
  • Fish People: I’m sincerely hoping that was an “Underwater Menace” reference.
  • The mistake that all smart people make: Somewhere John Watson is just randomly started laughing, and he’ll never know why.
  • Do the students know?  Of course they know.  I’m pretty sure the whole school knows.
  • John Smith: Deep Cover Caretaker: I really don’t get why the Doctor didn’t just tell Clara what was going on from the beginning.  I can’t think of any good reason not to.  Not to mention that Clara had a very valid question.  And the Doctor really could have used the help.
  • He read it in the back of the book: That was purely the Doctor taking a pot shot at Clara.
  • The Doctor and the P.E. Teacher Maths Teacher: I think there’s a lot of self-hatred involved with the Doctor’s disapproval of soldiers.
  • The Doctor and the Disruptive Influence: Don’t let the “go away” stuff fool you, he loved meeting her.
  • The Doctor was shipping Clara and Adrian hardcore.  More on that later.
  • Invisibility Watch: There’s no big theme with this one, it’s just nifty, and well used throughout the episode.
  • The Skovox Blitzer: There have been some really good monster designs this series; first The Teller, and now the Skovox Blitzer.  The Blitzer is a solid, all terrain design with a nasty punch.  Well done, Doctor Who Special Effects team!
  • Danny Suspects: Danny’s a lot smarter that people (or more specifically, the Doctor) think.  I think that the Doctor was more angry that the soldier messed up his plan, that said soldier couldn’t possibly have known about, than anything else.
  • Well Clara, you had to know this was coming.  Just explain it clearly to both parties, unless one party is rightly confused by what’s going on, and the other one is being a jackass about everything.  In which case, explain things to the confused one, and tell the jackass to shut up.  Which is more or less what she did, but still trying to cover everything with a lame excuse was dumb.
  • Because it’s amazing: If there’s a better reason to keep traveling with the Doctor, I have no idea what it could be.
  • Clara, Danny, and the Doctor, Part 2: Oh boy, Danny doesn’t know it, but he nailed the Doctor.  He read the Doctor perfectly, which is why the Doctor was so pissed at him.
  • The Doctor and the Disruptive Influence, Part 2: He really does like her, he’s just crap when it comes to humans.
  • Mr. and Mrs. Woods: Wow, that was really reaching with the improvement.
  • Of course the Blitzer came back during Parent’s Night.  When else would it come back?
  • Danny vs. The Doctor: Doctor, take the help.  Quit being such a jackass.
  • Danny the badass acrobat: Damn cool, nothing else to say.
  • Clara, Danny, and The Doctor, Part 3: I think Danny was wrong about why the Doctor was angry.  He wasn’t worried that Danny was good enough for Clara, he was pissed that Clara chose to be with someone that he sees as being like himself as he is now.  Angry and ashamed, ashamed of what I’m not entirely sure.  He really wanted Clara to be with someone who’s like he used to be in his previous incarnation, someone who was happy.  Granted, the Doctor was reading the situation wrong the whole time, and reading his past self wrong as well.
  • The Doctor and the Disruptive Influence, Part 3: Was she motion sick?  Is that what was wrong?  Can you even get motion sick in the TARDIS?

Danny was not used very well in this episode, and Clara and the Doctor seemed to be keeping secrets for no logical reason.  Capaldi really did prop this episode up, but he wasn’t enough to save it.

Next week’s episode is titled “Kill the Moon”.  I’m sure Strax will be happy.


The Disappearance of Netflix Picks

Well, no, not really.

Things have gotten a little hectic around here, so I’m going to have to put Netflix Picks on hold for a little while.  With any luck I’ll have it up and running again sometime in November.

In the meantime, I’ll leave you with this very short review of Stardust.

The hero gets overshadowed by literally all of the other characters, but other than that I really liked it.

Doctor Who: Time Heist First Impressions

Was anyone else disappointed that there was no Italian Job references?  No?  Just me then?  Ok.

  • The new theme is starting to remind me of the Seventh Doctor’s theme; in other words, it’s starting to sound really eighties.
  • Is Clara trying to go on a date and getting caught up in the Doctor’s stuff going to be a thing for the whole series?  ‘Cause I’m not sure that I like it.
  • Mutant Human: Can we get an X-Men/Doctor Who crossover now?  Because that would be kind of cool.
  • Who put the Doctor in charge?  The Doctor did, it’s kind of what he does.
  • Saibra and Psi: I really liked how both Clara and the Doctor got to bond a little with the guest characters.  Softens up the Doctor a little.
  • The Teller: I had a feeling that the Doctor would have to try and save The Teller, and once again I was right.  Cool design though.
  • Eyebrows: I think the Doctor may be trying to compensate for his previous incarnation.
  • Enemies closing in, the Doctor and his companions may be killed, and the Doctor is wowed by a nifty bomb.  Par for the course really.
  • Speaking of par for the course, the Doctor’s entire plan consists of “wait for a thing to happen”.  The hell of it is, that’s the plan that always works.
  • While The Teller was focused on Clara all I could think was, “Jeez Clara, just think of a blank wall!  Problem solved!”
  • Time travel heist: Not quite a title drop, but I’ll allow it.
  • Nice fake-out there with Psi and Saibra, also it gives the audience a reason to root for the Doctor getting everyone out of there.  Something that’s been a bit lacking this series.
  • Also, I liked Clara’s little “aw, yes” gesture when Psi told the Doctor about the TARDIS.
  • Shuttity-up up up: Well it’s not like they could have him say “fuckity bye”, now is it.
  • So the Doctor did it all, I guess I should be glad it wasn’t Clara again.
  • The second monster was a surprise, but I liked it.
  • I really liked the bit with Psi and Saibra in the TARDIS with the Doctor and Clara.  It was cute.

So next week will bring the Clara’s Double Life plot to a head (and maybe even an end? She said hopefully) Either way, we’ll get to see more of Danny next week and the Doctor returning to Coal Hill School.  Should be interesting.



Doctor Who: Listen First Impressions

Late again.  This will not become a habit*

  • I was right, this one was creepy.
  • Why do people talk to themselves?  Because sometimes I’m the cleverest one in the room!  Wait…
  • Danny and Clara: And the award for Worst Awkward First Date goes to…
  • I’m betting Clara is getting a little tired of the Doctor insulting her all the time.
  • I actually liked the bit in the children’s home, very creepy and atmospheric.
  • If fear is a superpower, it’s a really crummy one.
  • Dad Skills: The Doctor is the kind of Dad that would read “Go the Fuck to Sleep” to his kid and be completely unapologetic about it.
  • I liked the interactions between Rupert and Clara, it really showed off how good she is with kids.
  • Danny and Clara take two: I may have spoken too soon about that award.
  • Just come out and say it episode, Clara and Orson are related somehow!
  • Hey! Anyone remember back to The Impossible Planet when the Doctor talked about that voice in your head that tells you to do something really stupid and reason tells you not to do the stupid thing?  Yeah, the Doctor listens to the voice.  Hardly ever works out well.
  • And once again, Clara has a large impact on the Doctor’s life.  I’m kind of getting tired of this plot convenience though, Moffat keeps doing it and it’s getting old for me.
  • Danny and Clara take three: I have the feeling this relationship is going to need a counselor on standby.
  • I’m surprised the Doctor didn’t check where they had been as soon a Clara left.
  • An episode without a Missy sighting or any mention of “The Promised Land”.  It won’t last.

Overall I liked this episode, very atmospheric, and we got a little bit of the Doctor’s backstory.  Which is unusual, but very welcome.

Next week the Doctor will be robbing a bank, he really has gone darker hasn’t he?

Netflix Picks: A Ship of Fools

Comedy doesn’t always translate well across languages, let alone cultures.  Which is why British sitcoms (occasionally called Britcoms) sometimes have a hard time here in the states.  There are a few exceptions however, Monty Python is probably the most well known even though that’s more sketch comedy rather than situational, The Office is a recent example, and there’s today’s pick, Red Dwarf.

Red Dwarf is the story of Dave Lister.  He was the lowest man on a mining ship when, after bringing a pregnant cat on board against regulations, he was put in stasis.  The ship’s computer, Holly (who is male), revives Lister three million years later after the radiation from a leak that killed the crew has dissipated.  Holly then informs Lister of the crew’s deaths and introduces a holographic version of Lister’s immediate superior (and total smeg-head) Rimmer.  Lister and Rimmer then run into a cat person who evolved from the pregnant cat that Lister brought on board who was sealed away in the ship’s hold and thus avoided the radiation.  Lister orders Holly to turn the ship around, and thus begins the long, strange trip of the Red Dwarf.

Red Dwarf is a wonderful send-up of the classic sci-fi situations and tropes.  It takes everything that you know about a typical science fiction story and set-up, and turns it on its head.  The premise itself is a good example of this; typically, the protagonist of a story like this, would be a smart, take charge kind of guy, not a lazy, slobby, chain-smoking bum.  Dave Lister is anything but the hyper-competent protagonist we’re used to, which allows the writers free reign with the jokes that would naturally come out of a situation where the idiot is in charge.  But the real comedy gold comes from the relationship between Lister and Rimmer.  In a lot of ways Rimmer is just as stupid as Lister, but Rimmer has far more ambition and drive than Lister will ever have.  But their ability to find the weakest parts of each others character is where the best comedy comes from.    Lister and Rimmer know how to push each others buttons so well, that the lengths they’ll go to to annoy the other are some of the best parts of the series.

That’s not to say that Holly and Cat are treated as afterthoughts, while they may be in the background for most of the first series, they do get some pretty funny bits for themselves.  Holly functions as part exposition dump and outside commentary on Lister and Rimmer’s actions.  Cat is Lister’s partner in crime and provides a non-human perspective on the situations that the crew finds themselves in.

There are flaws that need to be addressed however.  First of all, the humor will not be to everyone’s taste. It’s very british in its rhythm and timing, which not everyone will get.  It’s also very slapstick, so if that isn’t your thing it’s probably best to stay away.  There’s also the accents to consider, Lister in particular has a very strong accent which might be hard for some people to understand.  Also, the first series feels kind of lackluster to me. There’s some good ideas, Future Echoes is one of the best of that series, but the rest of it feels kind of dull.  Things do pick up as the show goes along, but you have to have patience with it.

Overall this is a solid parody of Science Fiction and the kind of stories that are commonly told in that genre.  There is actually quite a bit of character development from about series two onwards, but the wait to get there might be a little much for some.  But it’s still a funny, enjoyable ride with some of the biggest idiots in the galaxy.

Overall rating: 6.5/10

Doctor Who: Robot of Sherwood First Impressions

This is late.  I had a long day yesterday and I went to bed right after the episode.  Deal.

  • This felt a bit like a Sixth Doctor episode.  At least, Twelve was acting very Six-ish.
  • The Doctor fights a man wielding a sword with a spoon, I’m really not sure what to make of that.  Also, where did he get that glove?
  • Boy, the Doctor really stuck with that “None of this is real!” thing up until the bitter end, didn’t he.
  • Nice bit of business with the Doctor wondering where Clara got her belief in heroes, and Clara being all “Duh!”  What Clara is doing here is what a companion should do, showing the Doctor the best parts of himself.
  • The sheriff was suitably dickish for the setting.  I liked it.
  • Check out Robin Hood getting all Merida up in here!  Or was Merida getting all Robin Hood?  Whatever.
  • And the Doctor showing off in order to get captured.  Nice plan.  /sarcasm
  • I actually kind of liked the design of the robots.  I’m sure it was just a function of where and when they crashed, but it shows the amount of thought that Gatiss put in to the writing.
  • The part in the dungeon with the Doctor, Robin and Clara was the part that reminded me the most of Six.  With Clara being a much more proactive companion than Perri or Mel were.
  • Props to the Merry Men for figuring out what was so weird about the sheriff’s plundering of the people.
  • This show has a long history of overly ambitious humans allying with bad guy robots, and it never turns out well for the human.  In short, the sheriff really should have known better.
  • There’s a neat little easter egg in all those Robin Hood pictures that the databank on the ship displays.  I didn’t notice it until someone pointed it out; but apparently, Patrick Troughton once played Robin Hood.
  • You have to feel for Robin when he finds out that as far as history is concerned, he never existed.  For a minute there, I was convinced he wasn’t real either.
  • Of course Robin has a sword fight with the sheriff.  Why wouldn’t he?
  • I liked that Robin came to terms with being a legend instead of a slightly flawed real person.  Of course the Doctor has been a legend in the past (the whole Oncoming Storm thing) it didn’t exactly work out well for him.

Overall this really did feel Six-ish to me.  Not that that’s a bad thing, I happen to like Six, but the humor did seem to overwhelm the episode.  But I didn’t hate it by any means.

Next week looks to be really creepy, things grabbing people from under beds and all that, I look forward to it.

Netflix Picks: Friday Chinese Detective Story

I love a good mystery story, I’m a big Sherlock Holmes fan, and I like Agatha Christie, Midsomer Murders, and the Murdoch Mysteries series from Canada.  So when I found a Chinese version of the kind of thing I like, I figured “why the hell not?”  Enter Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame.

Based on the real life Chancellor of Empress Wu Zetian, the story starts off with the sudden death of an architect working on a giant Buddha commissioned by the Empress.  He dies by what seems to be spontaneous combustion, of course there’s more to it than that; especially when another official dies the same way.  Advised by her Chaplain, the Empress summons Dee (who was imprisoned after opposing the Empress’ rise to power) to take charge of the case.  She doesn’t entirely trust Dee though, so she sends her servant Jing’er to keep an eye on him.  Penal officer Pei Donglai joins the investigation as well, and the trio sets off to find the killer before he can target the Empress.

Unsurprisingly, the movie plays fast and loose with the actual history.  But if you aren’t well versed in Chinese history, I doubt you’ll notice.  There’s also quite a bit of the wire work action sequences that Chinese film has become famous for.  While the movie doesn’t exactly have the budget that a Hollywood backed production would have, the production values are still pretty good.  The costumes and sets are impressive, and while there are a few hiccups where the CGI is a little too prominent, the wire work stuff makes up for it.

The mystery itself is fairly well done, but the reveal of who the Chaplain is seems a bit off to me.  Maybe I wasn’t paying enough attention, but it really did seem to come out of nowhere.  That said, the acting is pretty good; Andy Lau does well as Dee, but the real stand-outs in my opinion are Carina Lau as Empress Wu and Deng Chao as Pei.  Carina Lau brings a ruthless grace to Wu, making her an interesting character to watch.  Chao makes Pei a relatable character, even if he’s a bit hot-headed.

Overall, it’s a pretty good and fun movie.  If you like Chinese action movies, I think you’ll find a lot to like about this movie.  If you’re a mystery fan, this is an interesting take on the genre.

Overall rating: 6.9/10