Doctor Who ‘Sleep No More’

“Sleep, that knits up the ravelled sleeve of care. The death of each day’s life, sore labour’s bath. Balm of hurt minds, chief nourisher in life’s great feast. Congratulations, Professor. You’ve revolutionised the labour market. You’ve conquered nature… You’ve also created an abomination.”
DrWho_CapaldiStory 9.09
Written by Mark Gattis
Transmitted 14 November

In sharp contrast to previous sequences, Clara and the Doctor are not the centerpiece of this week’s story. Sleep No More is an experimental episode told via ‘found footage’using a first-person point of view.

Sleep No More has been getting damning reviews from fans, but I quite like it. Even though this is essentially ‘Attack of the Eye Boogers,’ it’s just a spin on the traditional ‘base under siege’ story that has been used since the 1960’s. The added flair is that the monsters win in the end in a way that doesn’t really make sense. Quite a change of pace from the Doctor defeating the monster in a way that makes no sense!

For the uninitiated, Doctor Who is a long-running science fiction series that screened for 26 years from 1963-89 with a triumphant return in 2005. Doctor Who’s greatest strength is its variety and outlandish style.  The leading man (referred to only as ‘The Doctor’) has changed twelve times over its 50 years with more to come and each time this change occurs, the character of the Doctor has altered.

2QTV3FnAided (and often hampered) by young travelling companions, the Doctor faces dangerous obstacles and bizarre aliens throughout the entirety of time and space (but usually England). Whereas the 1963-89 program had limited success that tapered off toward the end, the current series has obtained a strong following. The program is a cult phenomenon combining elements of science fiction, fantasy, history, comedy, action and drama. It really is like no other TV program and as such it’s an acquired taste.

In this week’s installment ‘Sleep No More,’ the time travelers are aimlessly wandering about before being discovered by a rescue operation to a space station orbiting Neptune. The station appears to be empty and as the exploration continues, a series of sleep pods, called Morpheus, are found. Clara gets snared into one of the pods and is immediately placed into a sleep state with a hologram of dancing girls hovering over the lid. The cloned ‘grunt’ notices that one of the pods is occupied and Gagan Rassmussen, the man who opened this episode explaining the unusual nature of the narrative.

After much prodding, Rassmussen explains that he has been enhancing the Morpheus pods which compress sleep into 5 minute bursts allowing the surviving members of the human race to be more productive. The Doctor is horrified by this revelation and explains the importance of sleep for the quality of life, citing poets and playwrights from human history to back this up.

In no time, strange horrific monsters attack the survivor, rescue team and the TARDIS crew. To add to the confusion, the creatures are reduced to sand-like granules when under stress. Then the satellite begins a drastic fall from orbit and a loss of heat shielding. Using his sonic sunglasses and the helmets worn by the soldiers, the Doctor defuses the situation but cannot understand how or why the creatures (dubbed ‘Sandmen’ by Clara) could do this.

After Rassmussen is devoured by a Sandman, the Doctor and Clara lead a daring chase through the satellite with the only surviving member of the rescue squad, Nagata. Befuddled, the Doctor pieces together that the entire affair is being masterminded by Rassmussen but cannot understand why. The scientist gladly explains that a side-effect of the Morpheus’ ability to compress sleep is the creation of a new, superior, life form. He endeavors to aid this new life form which can find its way into a victim’s body through the corner of one’s eye with dreams of galactic conquest. The Doctor defies Rassmussen and manages an explosive escape.

Even after defeating a monster made of five years’s worth of Sandman material, the Doctor is not convinced that he has succeeded in foiling Rassmussen’s scheme. In a video that only the viewer can see, Rassmussen reveals that the invasion is through the video itself and that if it is being viewed, the Sandmen are already on the move.

Sleep No More is the second foray into first person point of view as a mode of storytelling (previously used in Love & Monsters), but this attempt was far more in-depth with only footage via headcams and security footage used, eventually including Clara and Nagata’s point of view sans camera.

There has been outcry over this episode with viewers claiming that it is incomplete and incomprehensible. Interviews with Gattis have revealed that the initial script was two-parter, but maintained the open ending. A devoted fan and scribe of novels, audio adventures and several episodes for the new program, Gatiss added nods to the classic era. The Doctor casually mentions The Silurians (from the 1972 story, the Sea Devils), the Great Catastrophe (introduced in the underrated 1984 story Frontios), and even a ‘When I say run, run!’ command dating back to the Troughton era. Gatiss was influenced by classic adventures that hinted at a vast future at war and strove the leave hints at this in his script, but due to the truncated length of the story from two to one parts, these details get muddied and confuse the action.

The visuals of Sleep No More are quite striking and the stellar acting ability of Capaldi (whose face fills the screen much of the 45 minutes) is top notch. After a foray into decidedly wacky behavior earlier in the year, it appears that the ‘Thin White Duke’ of old is back. From next week’s preview images, it seems be seen that he has ditched the disheveled hoodie and check trousers for a more refined look including a red velvet jacket that would be at home with Third Doctor Who, Jon Pertwee.

The ninth series of Doctor Who has been controversial with fans. As any regular reader of my blog will attest, I am much more critical of the new series in comparison to the 1963-89 program. However, I have been re-watching the past few years with a much more casual eye and recognized the strength of the new series lies in its ability to fascinate viewers with bizarre situations and visuals that cannot be found elsewhere. From a room full of ventriloquist’s dummies in an alien hotel to graffiti that comes to life and a lion-headed fire-breathing alien… Doctor Who excels at leaving viewers scratching their heads wondering what they just witnessed.

… and hopefully come back for more.

The 2005-present Doctor Who program has added a new element of melodrama which more often than not hampered my enjoyment but was still an essential part of its success. Just mention Rose Tyler to a fan and they will tear up. The past few years has seen a departure from the ‘Doctor in love’ angle as well as a less hug-able leading man. I applaud these changes, but as the viewing figures and outcry indicates, I could be in the minority. The 9th series has been incredibly ambitious with all two-part stories with the exception of two episodes (this week and next). This year’s 9 installments are wildly diverse in tone, use time travel in new ways, explore topical subjects using fantastical characters and introduce a new layer of absurdity to the program.

After seeing the negative reception it received online, I entered this week’s episode with low expectations but was pleasantly surprised. While not a classic, Sleep No More is chilling and weird with a threat so deadly that even the Doctor cannot fathom it. And we could use more of that. Open endings have been used before in Idiot’s Lantern (where did the Wire come from?) Impossible Planet (was the Beast really the Devil? Was it Sutekh? Did the Doctor defeat it) and even Listen (what was that thing knocking at the door and hiding under the bedding?), but fans seem to be furious that this story was not resolved.

Personally, I think that the muddy nature of a script crammed with too many ideas due to a reduced running time and a monster essentially made from grit that you scrape out of the corner of your eye are the main problems preventing enjoyment of this story. But even accepting those limitations, it moves quickly and introduces a new scary monster as well as clever tech and some positively unsettling moments. Even the Doctor admits to being scared!

DrWho_SleepNoMore

Note- Mark Gatiss has confirmed that Steven Moffat has already asked him to write a sequel to this story.

The 2015 ratings so far (via DrWhoTV):

The Magician’s Apprentice 4.58m (overnight) 6.54m (final) AI 84
The Witch’s Familiar 3.7m (overnight) 5.71m (final) AI 83
Under the Lake 3.7m (overnight) 5.63m (final) AI 84
Before the Flood 4.38m (overnight) 6.05m (final) AI 83
The Girl Who Died 4.85m (overnight) 6.56m (final) AI 82
The Woman Who Lived 4.34m (overnight) 6.11m (final) AI 81
The Zygon Invasion 3.87m (overnight) 5.76m (final) AI 82
The Zygon Inversion 4.13m (overnight) 6.03m (final) AI 84
Sleep No More 4.0m (overnight) TBC (final) AI 78

The complete 2014 ratings: show

Overnight figures only include those who watched it live and those who recorded and watched it later that night.

Final figures includes those who recorded and watched within a week, making them a more accurate measure of how many were watching.

Live Plus 7 (L+7) counts those who watched live and all repeats, including iPlayer, within seven days following broadcast.

The Audience Appreciation Index (AI) is a score out of 100 which is used as an indicator of the public’s appreciation for a show. Over 90 is considered exceptional, 85 or over is excellent, 60 or less is poor, and less than 55 is very poor.

Next time: Face the Raven

Time to say goodbye

Time to say goodbye

Read more Doctor Who reviews

Read more Doctor Who reviews

Advertisements

The Doctor to make a special visit this Holiday

Since its return in 2005, the Doctor Who Christmas Special has been traditional. Some are better than others, but this year, fans will see the return of roguish time travelling flirt (and Roger Daltrey impersonator), River Song. The time line of River Song is so convoluted that this could be the time that the Doctor hands her a specially designed sonic screwdriver or teaches her to drive the TARDIS. Or not. We have seen River’s death, her birth, regeneration, her wedding and even her ghost, so I’m unclear on what is left for her to do… but the special guest star isn’t the only reason to get excited.

The 2015 Doctor Who Christmas Special will also be shown on the big screen on December 28th!

Doctor-Who-Christmas-2015

Via BBC America:

Peter Capaldi and Alex Kingston together on the big screen? Where do we sign up?

For the first time, the Doctor Who Christmas special, which will premiere Christmas Day on BBC AMERICA, will also hit U.S. cinemas, with BBC Worldwide North America and Fathom Events announcing a two-night special theatrical event. The event will be in theaters December 28 and 29 at 7:30 pm local time and feature an exclusive interview with Alex Kingston, who is returning as River Song for the special, as well as a 15-minute behind-the-scenes “making of” featurette starring Peter Capaldi, Steven Moffat and more.

The theatrical event is expected to screen in nearly 300 theaters, according to a press release. Tickets can be purchased starting Friday, November 13 by visiting the Fathom Events website or a participating theater’s box office. For a complete list of theater locations, visit the Fathom Events website (theaters and participants are subject to change).

Here’s the description of the Christmas special as announced:

It’s Christmas Day in the future and the TARDIS is parked on a snowy village street, covered in icicles, awaiting its next adventure. Time traveler River Song meets her husband’s new incarnation, in the form of Peter Capaldi, for the first time this Christmas.

Farewell, Impossible Girl

Since she first appeared in 2012’s Asylum of the Daleks, Jenna Coleman’s Clara Oswald has been a divisive character… and frankly it’s all Steven Moffat’s fault.

Clara-Oswald-oswin-oswald-33196143-500-550

Introduced as a recurring character who appeared throughout the Doctor’s timeline, cryptically oblivious to her previous appearances then dying before the Doctor could figure her out, Clara Oswald was the focus of the program… then she became even more important. She dove into the Doctor’s time line and saved him over and over, even influencing which TARDIS to steal when he left Gallifrey.

Doctor_Who_Jenna_Matt

This is a disturbing trend in the modern Doctor Who to place the emphasis on the companion rather than the Doctor. Moffat has even gone on record as saying the companion is more important than the Doctor, which indicates a flawed approach. To make matters worse, Moffat introduced a character with a definite arc, completed the arc, then had her remain. This isn’t the first time this has happened, of course. We had already seen Rose imbibe the time vortex and un-write the Daleks from history… then awkwardly stay as a companion, lose the Doctor then come back AGAIN. Amy Pond was another mystery the Doctor was obsessed with unraveling and after she was involved in the second Big Bang and getting to the wedding she was avoiding… she also rejoined the Doctor which made no sense.

Someone needs to explain to these award-winning writers that stories have beginnings, middle and ends. Not several staggering ends like a recurring prank phone call.

Nevertheless, Jenna Coleman has remained a pivotal companion through more key moments in the program’s history than any other character to date with the possible exception of the Brigadier! So it comes as no surprise that many fans do not like (or hate) Clara. She has also been portrayed as instrumental to any successful activity by UNIT yet remains a character whose greatest strength on the surface is being a ‘cute as a button’ school teacher.

Doctor Who – 50th Anniversary Special - The Day of the Doctor

Despite all this, I quite like Clara. She’s something of a throwback to Sarah Jane Smith, an everyday city dweller with a sassy attitude and remarkable fortitude in the face of danger. She has also greatly influenced the Doctor’s character, often in spite of his reluctance to accept her (as seen in last year’s adventures when the Doctor and Clara flat out did not get along at all).

Coleman has exhibited an unusually wide range of characteristics from comedic to dramatic, to adventurous. She is sometimes the most important person in the room and other times the brunt of a joke or an outright insult. She has charted the course of a story and been the victim of circumstance. She really is a stand out actress who holds her own against those who came before her, yet I can sympathize with the fact that she was thrust down our throats as important and the scripts continue to make this mistake. If Moffat had more faith in the Coleman, she would have been allowed to show us how great she is rather than reminding the viewer that she’s the *impossible girl* over and over, which is a shame.

Jenna Coleman is only listed as being on the cast list for the next two episodes and her fate has been hinted throughout this season. Moffat has also stated that it will be a tear-jerker (much the same way as the loss of the Ponds was).


DrWho_Peter_Jenna
I predict that after she is gone, Clara will be remembered as an important and much-loved companion. After all, you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.

Doctor Who and The Magician’s Apprentice

“This is the last will and testament of the Time Lord known as the Doctor.”

Art by Francesco Francavilla

Art by Francesco Francavilla

Story 9.01
Written by Steven Moffat
Transmitted 19 September

On far off Skaro, war has been waged between the Kaleds and Thals for so long that a weird blend of old and new technology from biological warfare to the bow and arrow are used by troops on the battlefield. A young boy finds himself in a ‘hand-mine field’ and is set for a grisly death until the Doctor arrives to save his life. However, when the Doctor asks the boy his name, he discovers that it is none other than the creator of the Daleks known as Davros.

Skaro is presented with such wild abandon and inventive glee, giving life to the vision first presented in 1974’s Genesis of the Daleks with boy soldiers fighting a war that degraded a planet’s culture. As openers go, this was a jaw-dropper.

From there, we are given glimpses of Russell T Davies and Steven Moffat’s Star Wars-esque cantina where weird aliens listen to Nick Cave, then a quick trip to the super obscure Shadow Proclamation (remember them??) Visiting both is one of the most unintentionally hilarious aliens ever in Doctor Who, a man made of snakes who moves like he is wearing roller blades and wriggles ‘in thought’ as if he is either about to erupt into giggles or is secretly pleasuring himself under his robes. He is of course looking for the Doctor because, ‘Davros knows.’ The Doctor is uncharacteristically hiding out, though and no one can seem to find him.

On contemporary Earth, Clara Oswin is teaching at Coal Hill School when she notices a passenger jet hovering in the sky, as if frozen in time. She urges her class to check their phones, especially Twitter, for news. She is then drafted into active duty by U.N.I.T. who have apparently been searching Google (and Twitter) for clues and frantically waiting for a cute school teacher to arrive and point out the obvious.

The global security force tasked with protecting the human race from unusual menaces, U.N.I.T. has seen better days. They appear to be winging it with less ability than a lemonade stand thrown together by two puppies and a newt. The Master (sorry, Missy) appears with Toni Bail references and impractical special effects, holding humanity hostage… for tea with Clara.

Yes, everything revolves around the cute as a button Clara.

Missy is in possession of an unusual device, a disc containing the Doctor’s will, to be opened on the event of his death. She states at length that she and the Doctor are old friends and that Clara is ‘simply a pet dog’ in comparison. Yet even Missy cannot find the Doctor, but Clara, using a laptop, can.

This leads to one of the most embarrassing moments in Doctor Who as the scene shifts to a gladiatorial battle in Essex, 1138. To combat an axe-wielding barbarian, the Doctor arrives atop a tank playing electric guitar and wearing sunglasses. He then makes bad jokes and upon noticing Clara watching from the ramparts, plays Roy Orbison’s Pretty Woman. There had been statements that there would be more comedy, especially after last year’s grimmer year of stories, but this is just taking it too far. Even Clara is flabbergasted by his behavior, and the Doctor states that he is celebrating his last day alive by honoring his many-faceted personality.

It appears that the Doctor has suffered a mental breakdown and is a shattered version of his former self. I’m reminded by a Bob Haney Brave and the Bold comic book in which Batman learns from Adam Strange that he is going to die. Rather than face his demise with expected stoic bravery, Batman turns into a nervous wreck, seeing conspiracy and danger around every turn. I suspect that given his experience encountering young Davros has bent his psyche and he is a demented mess.

In any case, The Doctor, Clara and Missy are all taken to Davros (played with aplomb by the brilliant Julian Bleach) who is also dying and wants the Doctor to bear witness.In another room, Clara and Missy attempt to escape in the TARDIS but are instead cornered by an army of Daleks. Davros watches with glee as his ‘children’ zap first Missy, then Clara and finally the TARDIS into smithereens.

With his friends dead and his ship destroyed, the Doctor returns to the fateful moment where he decided Davros’ future, this time armed with a Dalek weapon. With a wild look in his eyes, he fires…

I desperately wanted to enjoy this story. The design work is phenomenal and the varied Daleks look stunning. While they were not used much, the dreaded pepper pots are effective. Yet the humor is so off-key and absurd and the intelligence of the characters so dim that I find it difficult to get fully invested.

Last year, there was a definite decision to darken the tone of Doctor Who and introduce a colder, more alien and terse incarnation of our hero who willfully stood by while those around him died and referred to humans as ‘pudding brains.’ This year, it seems that Moffat and company have back pedaled to the world of whimsy and wacky humor that we have already seen in Matt Smith’s era.

I am hoping that this is all a red herring as Clara, Missy and even the sonic screwdriver (lost in this story) have all been seen in images from subsequent episodes. The Doctor, here dressed in baggy check trousers, a hoody and t-shirt has been presented as much slicker and more refined in a crushed red velvet jacket in other promotional material. Therefore, I am seeing a massive reset button waiting to be pressed next week.

Despite my grumbling, this is a beautiful looking story and a very outlandish Dalek adventure, the likes of which we have not seen to date. I am intrigued to see where the story can go, but a tale that deals with the consequences of actions is surely going to unravel those problems with magical timey-wimey nonsense as we have seen several times over. If I’m wrong, I will be happy as a mutant clam.


DW9.1

The 2015 ratings so far (via DrWhoTV):

While the UK overnights could have been stronger,The Magician’s Apprentice was the highest rated season premiere to date in the US on BBC America.

The premiere episode ranks as Doctor Who’s biggest season premiere ever overseas in the Adult 18-49 demo, which nearly doubled the Series 8 average. The season debut also saw increased social engagement versus last season’s premiere, and reigned as the most social drama of the night and week leading into the premiere.

“Doctor Who is unlike anything else on television, a storied franchise that is as fresh and contemporary as ever, with brilliant writing and superb performances,” said Sarah Barnett, President of BBC AMERICA. “We couldn’t be more thrilled that new and returning Doctor Who fans tuned into the live premiere in record numbers and we look forward to bringing more of the Doctor to this passionate audience.”

Live + Same Day Ratings Highlights:

  • The premiere telecast delivered 2 million total viewers and 1.1 million Adults 18-49.  Among A18-49, Doctor Who propelled BBC AMERICA to #3 in its timeslot, out-delivering the big 4 broadcast networks and ranking only behind college football on ESPN and the finale of Sábado Gigante on Univision.
  • In the A18-49 demo, Doctor Who is now one of just 14 dramas on TV this season to show any growth from its prior season premiere (out of 100+ returning dramas).
  • The A18-49 audience ranks as Doctor Who’s biggest season premiere ever on BBC AMERICA, nearly doubling the S8 average (+95%). In the demo, episode 901 ranks among the top 10 returning cable drama premieres this season, beating Homeland, Suits and The Strain, among others.
  • All tracked demos showed increases from the season 8 average with the most significant increases seen among the younger demos, most notably P12-24 (+186%) and P18-34 (+161%).
  • The episode reigned as the #1 most social drama of the night based on ListenFirst’s Digital Audience Ratings for Television.  It was the #1 TV brand on Tumblr, the #1 drama on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube and the #2 drama on Instagram, following The Walking Dead.  It was also the #1 most social drama of the week.
  • Episode 901 garnered larger social engagement than the most recent season premieres of Scandal, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, True Detective, Outlander, Glee, and The Flash, among others.

Next time: The Witch’s Familiar

The 9th series of Doctor Who promises to be yet another in a long line of game changers with everything hanging in the balance. Steven Moffat has leaked numerous details regarding the stories for the year which hint at revelations regarding why the Doctor initially left Gallifrey.

The Radio Times has more details. 
Doctor-Who-Abbey-Road

Doctor Who says goodbye to his impossible girl

Jenna Coleman is officially leaving. Get ready for news on a new companion. Since its return in 2005, the companions in Doctor Who have been the focus of the new program. From Rose resetting time to Martha using a satellite network to turn the Doctor into tinkerbell, the travelling companions have often served as the ultimate plot contrivance, allowing writers to get out of a corner or in some cases build said corner and follow it up with three more and a roof as was the case with Amy Pond and Clara Oswald.

Clara-Oswald-oswin-oswald-33196143-500-550Clara was introduced as a surprise in the opening episode of the 7th series in which she also died (no worries, no one ever really dies in Doctor Who). She was then revealed to be something like a sentient antibody, running throughout the Doctor’s timestream to not only save him from the Great Intelligence but even influence his actions as far back as which TARDIS to steal when he left Gallifrey.

doctor-who-the-name-of-the-doctor-colin-bakerClara became the ultimate companion, superseding the Doctor as the hero even in previous stories! That said, once Moffat got this out of his system. Clara became a much more nuanced and enjoyable companion alongside the new regenerated Doctor who needled her every chance he got. Whereas the previous incarnation doted on Clara, the new one implied that she needed makeup to cover the horrible lines on her face and pointed out her egomania. The two played off of each other so well that actress Coleman decided to stay on for another year, prompting rewrites to the Christmas Special which would have seen her die before the Doctor’s eyes.

DoctorWh0_Clara

The eight series redeemed Clara which is fortunate as Jenna Coleman is a delight to watch and of course as cute as a button. Even so, three years is optimum for a companion to stay on the program and it will be a pleasure to see how Moffat wraps up her story (for a third time).

Throughout the long history of Doctor Who on the screen and in print, there have been many companions that have been loved and derided. In the long run, I’m not sure where Clara Oswald’s legacy will fall but as she was the herald of a new wildly successful era of the series, I predict that she will remembered fondly.

Via BBC:

It’s been officially confirmed that Jenna Coleman, who plays Clara Oswald, will leave Doctor Who during the new series which starts tomorrow, Saturday 19 September.

However, it’s not been revealed exactly when Clara leaves and the question many are already asking is how will she part company with the Doctor?

Jenna Coleman made her Doctor Who debut on 1 September, 2012 as Oswin Oswald in Asylum of the Daleks. She returned on Christmas Day of that year, playing Clara and remained with the Eleventh Doctor from the following episode, The Bells of Saint John, onwards. She stayed on board the TARDIS for all of Peter Capaldi’s episodes to date and after filming for the last series finished, Peter commented, ‘Jenna has been absolutely brilliant. I think she’s wonderful in the show, and she’s my favourite companion.’

But Series 9 sees the Impossible Girl’s departure although the how, why and when are all questions we’ll have to watch the new adventures to find out…

Whatever happens, we’ll bring you the inside info first but for the time being we’ll prepare to say goodbye to Clara and good luck to Jenna. We’ll miss them both.

Who is your favorite companion?

Rose?

Amy?

Tegan?

Leela?

Ace?

Sarah Jane?

Kamelion?

Tardis_RedesignAdditional: Peter Capaldi has revealed that the TARDIS will be getting a facelift in the ninth series. Sixties design elements and roundels will be making a return much to the actor’s delight.

DrWho_Capaldi_Redesign

Doctor Who Series 9 revealed

A mysterious alien from Gallifrey with two hearts who rights wrongs through time and space known as the Doctor returns this coming Saturday, the 19th of September.

The tenth (yet strangely numbered ninth) year of the new revived version of Doctor Who will soon begin. Details have been scattershot but finally fans have their first look at the series titles and it is interesting as there are hints of Heaven (confirming a continuation of the Master/Missy storyline begun last year) along with Zygons, Daleks, Vikings and a ‘new’ character from the Doctor’s past. This year will also be more interlinked thank previous years with one episode bleeding into the next. It is still unclear if Jenna Coleman (Clara Oswald) will be departing at the end of this series or if she will stay on for another year.
DrWho_Series9_Capaldi
As this will mark the tenth year since the series was reborn under Russell T Davies, there has been talk of a special commemorating the event (much like the 50th anniversary story ‘Day of the Doctor’), but to date nothing is firm.

DoctorWho_Eccleston_2005Rumors abound regarding Paul McGann reprising the Eighth Doctor Who and maybe a new script from former showrunner Davies. But again, neither are confirmed.

DrWho_Capaldi_readingA lifelong fan and celebrated actor of stage and screen, Peter Capaldi will be showing new (and lighter) facets to his portrayal of the Doctor as well as paying homage to Third Doctor Who Jon Pertwee (as evidenced in his new red crushed velvet jacket). With all of time and space as the canvas for which to paint new stories, the opportunities are wide open.

More as it comes.

Doctor Who Series Nine Prologue

peter-capaldi-Doctor-whoIn preparation to the latest series of Doctor Who featuring a dragon, an army of Daleks, Vikings, and Zygons, a prologue has arrived. This short film will also be seen next week in cinemas during the 3D screening of Dark Water/Death in Heaven.

While some fans are wondering if another regeneration is on its way, I would counter that Capaldi is here to stay for some time and as actors have traditionally remained in the role for three-four years, it’s safe to say we will not be seeing a 14th Doctor any time soon, despite Haley Atwell’s interest in the part. I mean… he’s voicing the Doctor in the Lego Dimensions game!!

Bonus, here’s a promotional video from a time when Doctor Who was new again… in 1996.

Daleks, and Dragons and Zygons, oh my

DoctorWho_9The Doctor celebrates his 51st year battling monsters by…. battling monsters. Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman will return in the 9th season of Doctor Who, thwarting Daleks (seen in the trailer as sporting the traditional design), battling shape-shifting Zygons, crossing swords with dragons, matching wits with Missy and playing the electric guitar (some fans may know that Capaldi was in a band called the Dream Boys along with late night TV host Craig Ferguson).

Capaldi_doctorWhoAfter appearing to be stern and rather abrasive last year, the Twelfth Doctor seems whimsical and more passionate in the new trailer, far more similar to Doctors Nine, Ten and Eleven. In one sequence he states wanting to ‘kiss the universe to death.’

I’m a bit disappointed as it was a daring move to actually change the personality of the Doctor for the first time in ten years. There is also the usual telling over showing syndrome which plagues the new series as the Doctor tells villains who he is (‘I’m the Doctor and I save people!’), apparently defeating them with speeches.

The ninth season promises the usual cataclysmic events that have marked the program since its return in 2005 including the arrival of a character from the Doctor’s part played by Maisie Williams from Game of Thrones (in a previous trailer, the Doctor glances off screen in shock, ‘YOU!’). Any guesses on who that is? My money is on Susan Foreman, the Doctor’s granddaughter, but Moffat insists that it is a new character.

I don’t mean to sound too critical as I was (for the most part) happy with last year’s stories and adore Capaldi’s Doctor. I’m just tired of Moffat’s approach and am eager to see something innovative and new.

The latest season of Doctor Who will start September 19, 2015 at 9 pm EST on BBC America.

Doctor Who series nine premiere title revealed

The title of Doctor Who’s ninth series opener has been revealed as “The Magician’s Apprentice.”

Read more Doctor Who reviews

Read more Doctor Who reviews

It is rumored that the upcoming Last Christmas would see the departure of actress Jenna Coleman who has been on screen as Clara Oswald since 2012’s Asylum of the Daleks. However, it has more recently been rumored that she has had a change of heart.

Given that Clara has had much more to do in the 8th series and excellent chemistry with Peter Capaldi, I can see that she may be more invested in another few adventures.

Yet the title “Magician’s Apprentice” would imply a new companion. It’s a puzzler, innit?

Doctor Who – The Caretaker

The Caretaker

tumblr_nclc97weW91ssmbizo1_500
Story 8.06
Written by Gareth Roberts and Steven Moffat
Transmitted 27 September 

The life of a time travelling adventurer is not an easy one, especially when you are trying to lead a ‘normal life.’ Clara Oswald has been living a split lifestyle, spending part of her time with the mysterious Time Lord called the Doctor and the other half as a school teacher exploring a budding romance with a fellow teacher, Danny Pink. While the Doctor had insisted that he is not her boyfriend, but he seems to be personally affronted as he realizes she is having dates and pursuing a romance. At one point the Doctor even suspects a wild-haired, bowtie-clad young teacher as her boyfriend and is almost relieved as the suitor looks so much like his previous incarnation.

When the Doctor announces that he is going undercover, Clara is hopeful that she will finally get some peace and quiet from the wild ride across time and space. Imagine her surprise when she learns that the setting of the Doctor’s undercover operation is Coal Hill School as the caretaker. Once more, her life is overly complicated; all of the students are aware of her relationship with Mr. Pink and the Doctor is hunting a killer alien construct called the Skovox Blitzer.

Since its return in 2005, many writers with a background in situation comedy worked on Doctor Who including both show runners Russell T Davies and Steven Moffat. The modern Who has been part domestic drama/part far-flung sci-fantasy with mixed results. There are episodes such as The Lodger (also written by Roberts) that are almost entirely sitcom-like and at first glance it would appear The Caretaker would be cut from a similar cloth. But while The Lodger involved two ancillary characters stuck in a will they/won’t they cycle, The Caretaker uses the opportunity to further develop the characters of the Doctor and Clara and how they relate with unexpected results.

While Clara had been introduced during the Matt Smith era, she didn’t really blossom until this year when the Doctor became bristly and more alienating. She has been understanding and accepting of his peculiarities based on their past together, but when he meets the time travelling hero, Danny Pink sees him for what he is, an upper-class officer-type who sees others as lesser beings.

Meanwhile the Doctor continues to gain a more human layer through his interactions with the spunky student Courtney. He gives her grief, but her persistence earns a modicum of respect (even if he insists that she isn’t special). The 12th incarnation of the Doctor has had a rough road development-wise which shows just how comfortable the production team had gotten writing him as a quirky magical wizard. But he seems to be getting closer to a more clearly defined incarnation.

Clara’s two lives finally collide and Danny becomes involved in the hunt for the Skovox Blitzer leading to further conflict with the Doctor. In the end Pink is instrumental in the defeat of the monster, but he is wary of the Doctor’s influence over Clara. As Clara has such a strong and determined personality, the fact that the Doctor can so easily put her in danger is worrying to Pink, who obviously cares for and respects her.

The aptly named Caretaker surprised me as it brought up some interesting questions and set up situations that would blossom sooner than I anticipated in the following story,’Kill the Moon.’ The life of a companion has always been one of an exterior conscience for the Doctor as far back as Barbara who challenged the Doctor against letting the Aztecs kill innocents, but the lifespan of a companion is dicey. Surprisingly very few have died (only Katarina, Sara Kingdom, Adric and Kamelion come to mind) but with the constant threat of violence around them, death is a very real possibility. It is clear that this version of the Doctor has a very different way of viewing the universe than his predecessors. The Doctor is an enemy to monsters, an opponent to tyrants, and a foe to madmen, but he is also a threat to anyone who gets close to him, making him an unlikely caretaker to say the least.

What a surprising installment.


57818

The 2014 ratings so far (via DrWhoTV):

Deep Breath 6.8m (overnight) 9.17m (final) AI 82
Into the Dalek 5.2m (overnight) 7.29m (final) AI 84
Robot of Sherwood 5.2m (overnight) 7.28m (final) AI 82
Listen 4.8m (overnight) 7.01m (final) AI 82
Time Heist 4.93m (overnight) 6.99m (final) AI 84
The Caretaker 4.89m (overnight) TBCm (final) AI 83

Next time: Kill The Moon

Read more Doctor Who reviews

Read more Doctor Who reviews