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Archive for June, 2013

I don’t even know where to start with this episode. Like, if there is one thing that the various factions of the New Who fandom can agree on, it is that this episode is terrible. And it kind of is and it kind of isn’t. It starts off as kind of weirdly charming, though of course all the charm is pretty much sucked out of it the moment Victor Kennedy shows up, though it has a few good moments here and there. Things get even worse when Kennedy is revealed to be a people-absorbing alien. That is when this episode reaches its nadir. That is when I turn my face from the screen in embarrassment and shame.

It’s weird. Like, this isn’t an out and out terrible episode. It isn’t wholly awful. There are some nice, fun things about this episode. Marc Warren’s character is endearing and eccentric. (At the same time, it’s so weird to see him as like a normal person, because there are times when I can’t help but think about the fact that he played Jonathan Teatime to chilling perfection in the Hogfather TV movie.) Shirley Henderson is equally lovely. The characters beyond them are also quite nice, and for the first thirteen minutes of this episode, things are weird but okay, because it’s sweet to see all these people affected by the Doctor brought together and becoming friends.

From a thematic standpoint, it’s interesting to see the people on the sidelines. Elton and Ursula and all the rest are people who’ve merely brushed the Doctor’s life, who haven’t fallen into it like the companions do. And I think this episode would have been better if Kennedy wasn’t in it, if it was just a story about these people’s search for an answer about what they’d seen or what had happened to them.

But alas, we got what we got. From what I’ve heard, the nature of the monster this time around was tied down to a monster designed by a Blue Peter contest winner (though apparently the child in question had envisioned more of a Blob-style creature than the Azorbaloff). But. I don’t know. I don’t know what to say. I don’t know what to say about how effing awful the Azorbaloff is. I don’t know what to say about the fucking faces on it, or the fact that one of Elton’s compatriots ends up on its ass cheek. I don’t know what to say about how Jackie’s crush on Elton is basically just played up for laughs, as it’s been since her first appearance. I don’t have enough fucking words to talk about what happened to Ursula. Even if it is “peaceful”, being a face on a slab of pavement isn’t a life. That fucking oral sex joke was awful and I hate it and ye gods, this episode is rife with sexism, it seems like, and what does that say about its writer, Russell T. Davies himself?

I don’t know how to feel about this episode. I just. I don’t. There are some really lovely bits, but then I remember the awful, awkward bits and I can’t stand to think about it. I don’t know. I really don’t.

(128/260)

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This story succeeds largely because the rather vital supporting cast is all-around quite strong, and also because the creepiness levels are nearly through the roof. The evil force at work here is left largely unexplained outside of a religious context (certainly an odd choice for Doctor Who, though perhaps not surprising given the overtones thrown at the Doctor back in “New Earth”). Throw in a mind-controlled and unsettling-looking alien race, and you’re all set. (more…)

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A creepy, if sometimes cheesy, period piece set in 1950s London, “The Idiot’s Lantern” is if nothing else a decent episode of Doctor Who. Though Rose is incapacitated about halfway through the episode, it’s still nice to see the Doctor going about saving the day, albeit with some help by one of the guest stars. Paired up with a perfectly cast villain, it all in all makes for a fun episode.

As with a lot of the decent-but-not-great episodes, it’s hard to know what to say about this one. I found the portrayal of the Connolly family to be almost terrifyingly spot-on, with Eddie Connolly’s verbal abuses striking a chord with me even though I’ve never experienced that kind of abuse in my own home. It was rather satisfying to see him thrown out of the house, declared a product of an age that didn’t have a place in the quickly modernizing world. (Well, it was great right up to the point when Rose “Daddy Issues” Tyler told the capable and clever Tommy Connolly to go after his dad. I’m really not sure what Rose is trying to imply in her last line–that Tommy can change his dad from an abusive ass into a human being?–but it is still extremely unfortunate and I do not like it. Also I agree with Tommy: good riddance.)

And then there’s the Wire, the villain of the piece, played to cloying perfection by Maureen Lipman, who totally embodies the voice and tone and everything of the fifties. It’s hard to describe just what she brings to the role, but the visual avatar of the Wire captures everything we imagine the fifties to be. While I have some complaints about the cheesiness of some of her lines (the repeated “hungry”s certainly top the list), I still cannot fault such perfect casting.

On the whole, “The Idiot’s Lantern” fits that role of the decent episodes so far this series. There isn’t much there to warrant further discussion, no plot holes or troubling devices, no rants to raise against Rose Tyler or the Doctor. It’s a good episode, and that’s all right for me.

(126/260)

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On the one hand, this episode features a mostly not-bad story set in an alternate universe that brings about the return of the Cybermen to modern Who (only not really because they can’t cross universes) (only not really because the finale). This story is also Mickey Smith’s opportunity to finally shine, and it features a great dressing down of how Mickey has been treated both by the characters and by the writing of the show itself. On the other hand, Rose is back to being not my favorite again, because I do not care in the slightest about her unresolved daddy issues, I really freaking don’t.

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I can’t believe I thought I didn’t like this episode. What were you even thinking, Me from the Past? This episode is damn near perfect. The story and plot are deftly constructed, the characters are all on key, the main guest star carries the episode with grace. And I cried at the end. What more could you want, and what else could you expect from Steven Moffat?

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If this were a normal episode, I would probably be nitpicking it more than I will be here. But I can’t pick too much at it, because Sarah Jane Smith and also K-9. Though actually I probably am going to be whinging about the relationship stuff, so hold on to your butts. (more…)

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I continue to be pleasantly surprised. I suppose I’m guilty of magnifying my perceived faults in Series 2 (though those faults are still there, certainly), but nevertheless it’s nice to be surprised, I guess. “Tooth and Claw” moves at a nice brisk pace, more of an action piece than the last two episodes, I think, and it’s held up by great guest performances all around. Also David Tennant’s Scottish accent.

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