Tuesday, May 24, 2011

REVIEW: Doctor Who - The Rebel Flesh


This review was late for a number of reasons. We got a text from a good friend we hadn't seen for a long time and went over for drinks, food, and laughter on Saturday night. Then Sunday was Geocaching day and Monday...well, Monday was a Monday.

So with me being late getting this out I'm going to try and do something a little different for this episode and comment as I watch. Maybe this way I'll actually talk about the episodes story more than just rambling on and on.....and on.

The cold opening was simple and worked to hint at the story to come. This is called a cold opening right? Almost all of my script writing training has disappeared so I forget?

I love how The Doctor, Rory, and Amy looked like a group of friends traveling in that opening but as Amy and Rory are relaxing The Doctor is brooding about the readouts about Amy's positive/negative pregnancy. That was one of the things that hurt some of the companions in the past and keep them from being more than one sentence characters.

I love that this story isn't taking place in some high tech ship or building. That gives it a lot of atmosphere and grounded nature to this story. A great location was chosen both for inside and outside filming. Wonder if they are the same place?

A nice little Frankenstein feel during that storm and even more so later in the story? As many times as The Doctor has fell off things you would think he was afraid of heights. Hell, that's how the 4th Doctor ended up regenerating {see classic series story- Logopolis}

How cute, Rory wants to protect someone.

One of the biggest themes in scifi is the question of What is life? And it will never get tired when written well because we will never get closer to that answer, only farther away from it.

Don't stare Rory when a head on a snake is coming at you, run you nurse you.

Sometimes things that run away screaming come back really scary.

Sorry but the more I think about that thing that came at Rory, the more it reminds me of Anime Tentacle Porn. {Now that should get me some site visits. For all the wrong reasons.}

I have the feeling that Amy and Rory are going to either leave the TARDIS because she's pregnant or because he feels useless or some such boy ego nonsense while traveling with her and The Doctor.

See someone needs Rory. Men can be so stupid. Don't get me wrong, I really like Rory but this is pretty easy to see that what they are doing with him in this episode is way in your face because most of the episodes with him have been so Rory light. That's what happens when you misuse a character or push him into the background and then all of sudden notice him for a episode when you have something big to use him on. I think it hurts for the overall strength of a series. Make characters well rounded all the time and the skies are the limit.

You know with all those different versions of people floating around, this would be a good time for a Agatha Christie murder to drop.

Some people will say this is basic scifi but there are reasons basic scifi works. Stick it with artists of great acting, art direction, and the like and the basic can go way beyond basic and into your mind within so many levels.

And now I have to wait two weeks for Part Two. 

4 out of 5 stars


Monday, May 16, 2011

REVIEW: Doctor Who - The Doctor's Wife


I told myself going into writing this episode review that I have to keep it short as I've done with most of these and not ramble on and on but really knew I couldn't do that. 

Why? Look who wrote it. One of my all time favorite writers working on my all time favorite show. The show that takes up one large part of our living room in books, dvds, comic, and toys and the writer who has his own bookcase in the same living room. Or as Mar told me, "Doctor Who and Neil Gaiman. I'm surprised you aren't passing out in excitement."

But in all honesty I was out of town when this episode showed so I had to wait. Wait and stay away from spoilers which ended up making our trip to many great National and State parks that much better for me because I turned off a lot of my Twitter feeds and such to my phone. So I guess I could also say thanks to Neil Gaiman for helping me enjoy my time away to try and calm some anger that had entered my life.

This reminds me of how things connect. How you find yourself to like something. How a writer or artist enters your life. How those lines lead you down other lines to find things you enjoy or even people you end up dating. The first movie Mar and I ever saw together was Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy at a Air Force base theater.

Doctor Who was a huge part of my youth. We didn't have many TV channels during those times, Hell for the longest time PBS was it and that is how I ended up not only gaining a love for Doctor Who but also for British Television in general. Count in All Creatures Great And Small, Are You Being Served?, Red Dwarf, and so many others. Thank you PBS.

Oh, and a side note. I would have never gotten into comics if not for Spider-Man being on The Electric Company. Can't imagine me without comics and Doctor Who in my life. It would probably be like most people without their base beliefs, those bibles and such, and no matter how weird it may seem, a lot of my base beliefs come from comics and Doctor Who.

And now back to Doctor Who. Around the age I started to get into larger works of fiction to read I saw in the credits of a Doctor Who episode, The Pirate Planet, the name Douglas Adams. Then on one of many trips to the local library I spotted the same name on a book called The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy. See the connections hitting? By fate a few months after I finished reading that book my local PBS station showed the mini-series. I was hooked on his writing and read everything he put out into the world that I could find.

Then lets pass years later to a friend mentioning to me a book about Douglas Adams by a writer named Neil Gaiman. Then he told me I should also check out his book that was part of DC Comics adult Vertigo line of comics called Sandman. Now I've never been the biggest fan of either so called "adult" or "realistic" fiction. Give me aliens, give me the strange, give me something that takes me away. My childhood had enough "adult" and enough "realistic" for a lifetime but my friend got me reading it in time and I never regretted it. In a way that opened my reading brain further to the works of everyone from Terry Moore and Grant Morrison to Margaret Atwood and a study of Philosophy in college but the strings that lead to those connections would take far to long to explain.

Still haven't read that Douglas Adams book by Neil Gaiman though?

Every since that first time reading Sandman from which I was introduced to Neil Gaiman's work I've enjoyed everything he has released. And if you want to ask my favorite book of his I would say American Gods and my favorite Sandman story is The Wake; which is how I hope someday someone will write a funeral for the Doctor with that much life in it. But this isn't a write up about a funeral, its a review of The Doctor's Wife.

Took me long enough to get the episode didn't it. Sorry. The Doctor's Wife was very creative; which is to be expected with seeing who wrote it but some of the things that stood out for me was the acting and the visuals. I went in telling myself not to expect too much. Keep telling myself don't expect a movie from a TV shows budget and I think more people should think that way. I tried not to wish wish wish for all of his books wrapped into a Doctor Who universe sandwich and it worked.

The special effects on the makeshift TARDIS spinning through space in pursuit of the blue box was stunning. I just loved the bouncing spinning effect. The sets had a lot of craftsmanship but they didn't over do it; which I think would have been so easy to do. Do what you need to tell the story. The only visual I didn't like is something I've had a problem with from the beginning of New Who is when looking at a CGI TARDIS, especially looking at it floating in space, it really looks too animated, too polished but I think that's an in general issue with not only CGI but most modern movies period.

This episode had the best acting of the season so far and I think every episode has been spot on acting wise. But from Amy and Rory to The Doctor and Sexy, man, that was some throwing of roses on stage acting right there. Matt Smith is just so good at acting when other things are happening besides him speaking. Not to say he doesn't deliver dialogue well but some actors when not speaking are just background. Not Matt Smith. Mar thought there was a little hint of Sweeney Todd in Sexy and if there was, nice touch. I loved the energy between The Doctor and his true love.

I stayed away from spoilers before watching and that made each moment that much more special for me. Going in thinking from the name of this episode this was going to be about River Song, and there was a River reference wasn't there? Some how the surprise of what The Doctor's Wife was actually referring to just made my heart jump out in total fanboy joy and not many things do that with this older man much these days. But Doctor Who still can.

"I've got mail!" made me want to go back and rewatch The War Games; which I think is a very underrated story. For those that don't know The War Games is the last 2nd Doctor story which lasted a whole season. I have it on tape but no longer have a VCR so I need to get the DVD someday.

I thought the inclusion of an Ood was a really nice touch. One of the reasons was you keep thinking it was going to have more of focus but how the Ood was used was great. As a viewer you had grown to love and care for the Ood but this one was just frightening. Though the Ood have always had that touch of true alien to them. The type of alien that causes feelings of prejudices and fears deep in dark places we all have.

This episode raced out with emotions, raced out with references, and raced my heart back to that youthful heart of a fan just watching a TV adventure and loving every moment of it. Not thinking about it like a writer, not thinking about it like someone who will be writing a review, not thinking about what everyone else will be saying later. When the episode was over I was smiling and the only other thought I had was- I wish Douglas Adams was around today to write a episode.

5 out of 5 stars


Monday, May 9, 2011

My New Writing Space

I thought I'd post some new pictures about my new writing space I setup in the bedroom. It's helping me get so much more done being away from the internet connection, the TV, PS2, books, and also keeping me away from the kitchen is helping my diet. This is what it looks like kind of close up with the laptop ready for my madness.

Pull back a little further and you get to see the filling cabinet and the chair. The chair is really bad on my ass so I added some padding to it.

The cork board is a little bare at the moment. The little pieces of paper are quotes and the paper lining the bottom remind me of project releases I have planned. I need to start writing all my notes in pen though because even with a desk lamp near by the lighting in our bedroom sucks. The only places in our apartment with a over head light is the kitchen, hallway, and bathroom.

These are maps I keep around at all times but not because stories I'm writing are based in these areas but because it helps me think of how a city should be mapped out. I mainly use them for thinking out chase scenes or other forms of action.

My writing books that line the behind the laptop. Yes, I have a Stylebook. No, it still hasn't sunk in yet. The single group of books that have helped me the most in my writing are Scott ScCloud's books. I reread them all the time and learn something new each read through. Strangely I was introduced to those books in a Philosophy class.

More books. Mainly books about ways to talk dirty, useless facts, list books, and conspiracy theory books.

I've had these bookends for a long time. They use to bookend my Neil Gaiman books but I have so many now they have their own bookcase.


Sunday, May 8, 2011

REVIEWS: Doctor Who - Curse Of The Black Spot

I've read a few reviews of the third episode of the new season of Doctor Who. And more than one of those reviews commented that this episode was dull, small, and not epic enough. I can see where they might say those things but I think that's because they have seen pirate movies like the Johnny Depp ones and it's spoiled them.

I enjoyed the claustrophobic atomosphere of this story contained for the most part on one set. When the story jumped to the TARDIS or the alien vessel it did so with great story depth to add to the tale. Though I'm one of those people who hates that there are never any Doctor Who episodes any more that don't involve aliens or something supernatural. Doctor Who can tell any kind of story and it also can survive doing that without always having a monster or the like.

Anyone who has spent a few days on a boat can tell you that two things very quickly come to your mind. One thing is that it really doesn't take long for you to know that you have traveled and in some cases touched every inch of the ship and two that there isn't any world outside that boat. I don't think this episode needed huge establishing shots, flashbacks to the boys mother, or any of the like. It's about this boat, in this spot, with these people, and this situation. It was good to see the energy of Matt Smith's Doctor held to such a small space.

I myself enjoyed Curse Of The Black Spot. As I talked about with my first two episode write ups I think with all the threads left to pay off from the two part opening episodes, as the season goes on, this season needs more than a few episodes which at least in appearance need to be self contained. This is not only to give the viewer a sit down in one viewing experience but also to let there be chances for new viewers to jump on the train for the ride.

The acting once again was spot on from the whole cast. I love the special effects in this story because they reminded me a lot of old school effects. I love modern effects but also love when modern shows know when to hold back and not go nuts all the times. That's why a lot of U.S. produced shows can't do scifi with much creativity. 

This story sends me into recall thinking about the classic series 4th Doctor episode The Stones Of Blood. Check it out, its on DVD and part of The Key To Time storyline that lasted a whole season and you can buy it that way in a season set also. This season also contains stories written by Douglas Adams if you are a fan. And you should be a Douglas Adams fan. If your not a Douglas Adams fan you suck.

But back to this generations Who. One of the things people keep talking about is what will this seasons main theme will be? Will it be Amy having a baby? The Time Lord race returning? Or her admitting her love for the Doctor? But what I see happening and what I hope is happening is it being a strengthening of the relationship and love between Amy and Rory. Though at the end it might all be to just rip them apart in some fashion.

Oh, and one more thing. People have asked why I call these reviews when they are not reviews in the traditional sense I guess? Well, I don't really write those type of reviews. All of my reviews are more or less just my thoughts about the story that are currently coming out of my brain as I write the review along with a star rating. Plus, I hate most reviews because they either try to go all positive or all negative and also contain way too many spoilers; which I try to avoid.


4 out of 5 stars


Monday, May 2, 2011

REVIEW: Doctor Who - Day of the Moon

The second episode of the new season of Doctor Who continues with Day Of The Moon which is part two of a two part opener. Though in a way this episode ends with a sort of continued for the rest of the reason feel; which is all good and fine if all of that pays off because this many questions to start a season will either pay off big time later on in the season or leave the audience with a very flat feeling. 

Another point I keep thinking about is with that many questions the more the self contained stories will have to hit a higher mark because of the questions. You will need to give the audience a few moments to just enjoy that night sitting down and watching the show. I love continuing stories, its why I love TV shows, comics, and books series...Well, good book series, God would it hurt one publisher to cut back on a few series, every book doesn't need a second book and third book and fourth book and spin off series and books from different points of view. Fans will always want more of a book they loved but you have to leave them wanting more sometimes.....sorry, first rant of this review series and it wasn't even Who Geek related.

I guess the big things to talk about are the questions of who is the girl? Amy's child? River? Then is River Amy's kid? If Amy is pregnant then who is the father? Mar said she thinks it maybe the TARDIS and for someone who doesn't watch much Who that is an answer that I believe might be right on and was very much a Who Geek answer. I'm thinking maybe the TARDIS is trying to rebirth the Time Lord race? Though if that is the case why wouldn't it try to create more TARDIS......TARDISi? But that might be a little too Farscape. But more shows need a little more Farscape within them I say.

In a way the season opening story is like a season ending story or in Doctor Who terms a regeneration story is in a way like a post regeneration story in that people either love or hate stories, they payoff or sink, but its what that lays after that fresh beginning, once the ball really gets rolling that will show us what that season or that Doctor is made of so even though I only gave Day Of The Moon 3stars ask me later in the year and it could go through the roof. 

So many things to look forward to in a new season. Oh, and that Neil Gaiman penned episode coming up soon. That's going to be a popcorn, pizza, ice tea, and maybe chocolate cake night. 

3 out of 5 stars
review by Brian C. Williams