Sep 16, 2014

Fear Is A Superpower - LISTEN Review

By now, you've probably read plenty of online reviews (or heard them via podcast) about this episode. There's a kind of split about Listen amongst Who fans: some believe that it's Moffatt's finest episode since Blink; others feel that it is a meandering, not-very-cohesive story.

The truth, actually, lies in between - there are some good, creepy moments....but then the plot gets a little too timey wimey.   

Much like Midnight, the main story concerns a Moffatt-esque idea about a creature that has perfected hiding. Many of these sequences focus on building tension, and in that regard - they're rather successful. Moffatt also takes a slightly interesting approach to Capaldi's Doctor in giving him an almost fatal curiosity. When not travelling with someone, he doesn't go over the edge (like the Tenth Doctor) or even become moody and depressed (like the Eleventh) - the Twelfth Doctor rides the edge of that curiosity, making his behavior potentially monstrous.

(A later scene in which he snarls at Clara to get into the TARDIS is key - this is a man who is letting his curiosity get the better of him, who can't wait to see what's "in the dark").

Many fans will probably balk at that last sentence - or sentiment - but it works. Even though the Doctor is never "cruel or cowardly"....pushing this particular Doctor towards being either (or both) of those is a slightly dangerous and alienating step. Thankfully, Capaldi provides enough emotional grounding for this Doctor that it never seems to go too far.

But it's the plotline around Clara that really lessons the dramatic impact of the episode. It's not that I'm against showing a companion's home or romantic life - I like the fact that travelling with the Doctor is "one of (Clara's) hobbies"). But it's the timey-wimey, plotty-wotty situation that Clara is put in; being forced to confront her own time line...and then suddenly finding herself in a barn.

I'm sorry, it's all too impossible, even for the Impossible Girl. Even though her final monologue is touching and poignant, there's a little bit of contrivance to the ending. Learning about a potential suitor by accidentally encountering him in the past is one thing; having an influence on the lead character is quite another. I'm not offended by the prospect - it just seems a little too contrived.

Fandom is split between this being an all-out failure and an all-hour masterpiece. For some, this season - which is intentionally going against the high drama of Day of the Doctor/Time of the Doctor - has been relatively "meh", which is the last refuge of the critical scoundrel. Let me propose this - Listen has some good ideas, and some very creepy moments focusing on the need to be afraid....and the willingness to learn what's behind thedoor.

But in execution, its pieces don't fall into place. It is, however, still worth watching.

Sep 12, 2014

Living Legends: ROBOT OF SHERWOOD - Review

There's a small group of fans - let's call them uberfans - that believe that Doctor Who must be taken seriously at all times. That the odd goofball episode - The Gunfighters, Delta & the Bannermen, or even Love & Monsters - are evil abberations within a fine, nicely controlled canon.

Thankfully, I'm not one of those fans - because I absolutely loved this episode.

Granted, as a "romp", it comes between a rather dark episode (Into the Dalek) and what looks to be another dark episode with Listen. I don't care - this is a flat-out  fun episode - the kind of episode where uberfans would whine about "the Doctor wouldn't do that" or complain that this isn't dark enough.

"Richard the Lionheart! Cyrano deBergerac! Errol Flynn!"

On the one hand, if you want to see Robin Hood and the Doctor bicker for 45 minutes - and that's your only standard - you're in for a treat. This is undoubtedly Mark Gatiss' love letter to fun, goofy Who....and there's not much of a subtext. Oh, sure, there's the obligatory reference to the story arc this season - and there are tons of clever lines, way too clever to quote - but this is simply a fun, refreshing take on Who, especially after the sturm und drang of....well, let's just say Season 7B and be done with it.

Is it the greatest Who episode ever done? No. But anyone who hates this episode tends to hate puppies. And Democracy. And should probably rent Errol Flynn in The Adventures of Robin Hood to be able to "get it".

But my personal favorite moment - celebrity cameo!

Sep 11, 2014

Some 9/11 Thoughts Worth Repeating....

Like many of you, I had my thoughts about 9/11 in the past - and this three-year-old post reflects many of the the thoughts I had in this now-ten-year-old-post.

(I still can't believe I've been blogging for ten years....)

But all in all, I have to say that days like today remind me of where I was once, and where I need to go....

....and yes, tomorrow will bring a Robot of Sherwood review. Huzzah!