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Doctor Who series 7 part 2 November 20, 2013

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Part II of series 7 comes off a lot stronger than part one. When it shines it really shines. When it doesn’t it has me wondering if it’s time to give the show a rest.

The Christmas Special The Snowmen was an excellent episode. It had me laughing out loud in places as it did my parents who never watch this sort of thing usually. If it can get all of us in the same room and all of us enjoying it that’s something quite special in my view. Great to see Strax back. He was very funny in this. I loved the allusions to Sherlock Holmes too and

 Read the rest here

Looper October 26, 2012

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Looper is a pretty darn satisfying Time Travel movie which cinema has been lacking the past few years. It’s by no means a perfect time travel movie and it does have some pacing problems but it’s on the right track.

Starring Bruce Willis and Joesph Gordon Levitt who has been Willisfied in this movie which might, in my opinion, put off some female fans.

The film is directed by ‘Brick’ director Rian Johnson who had also previously collaborated with JGL on the same film. ‘Looper’ does start off with some film Noir undertones, particularly with the deep brooding voice over by JGL. I rather liked that and it’s visual style. In some ways it comes off as a slightly lower budgeted SF film but the story concepts are the glue that holds it all together. Near the beginning there was what I thought a throwaway line about people with telekinetic abilities. Rather a pointless addition I thought until midway through the movie we get some ‘Akira’ style happenings thrown at us and i’m smiling at it all.

My favorite part was probably the coffee shop scene between Willis and Levitt. The older version talking to the younger version coming off as a ‘father berating his son’ type of conversation. Excellent. I too probably would bitch to my younger self about his attitude.

Time Travel aspects.

The film would incur many plot holes if we were to accept this as a single timeline that is altered by time travel events. It would better to reason that quantum theory applies and we have here multiple timelines and each character is within their own individual timeline or stream or whatever you want to call it.

Timeline 1: Bruce Willis version. An aged Joe is sent back to be killed. He is killed by the character who will become the older Joe (Bruce Willis). 30 years pass and the day comes when it’s his turn to be killed. But now things change and the character takes matters into his own hands. He decides to escape and in going back in time makes a conscious plan to kill the Rainmaker, a criminal mastermind who is closing people’s Loops.

Timeline 2: Joesph Gordon Levitt’s character’s timeline. The one which we follow in the film. His older version comes back through time, attacks him and escapes to search for the Rainmaker who at this time is still only a child. Joe finds Rainmaker and in trying to protect him Joe kills himself in order to stop his older self from killing the young child who would later be known as the Rainmaker.

Things get tricky here. If we deal with quantum theory then it makes sense that the timeline can be altered. BUT! JGL kills himself in order to prevent his older self from killing the Rainmaker, yet if these characters are from different/separate timelines then the actions the character takes against himself should NOT affect his older self who is related to another younger version from his OWN timeline (timeline 1). So younger Joe’s cuts should not appear on old Joe. Old Joe should not disappear when young Joe Kills himself. If young Joe kills his younger self then his older self never existed to come back in time and cause this whole mess in the first place and so Joe would not kill himself, thus we have a paradox and according to Doc Brown or ‘The Doctor’ the universe might well explode.

Timeline 3: Rainmakers timeline.We might suppose in timeline 1 Rainmaker turns out as is, a complete dick. In timeline 2 he might actually be ok and a calm dude thanks to the interactions with JGL’s young Joe character. But what about the Rainmaker from Timeline 1 of older Joe who was shot by the old Joe we see in the movie. Did the very first Joe have no knowledge of him? Or is this a 3 spin paradox in which we need to pass through 3 timelines in order to return to the first and repeat. Messy….

So much like Quantum mechanics the film itself does have some plot holes. It doesn’t really spoil the enjoyment. I only thought the pacing and some antagonists such as Kid Blue didn’t really work. Kid blue seems set up to just die. Having Bruce Willis kill kids too didn’t really sit right with me. Would someone really go and kill Hitler if he was just a child and hadn’t done anything yet?

Favorite Quote: “Then I saw it. A mother who would die for her son, a man who would kill for his wife, and an abandoned child headed the wrong path.” - Young Joe

Doctor Who Series 7 part 1 October 15, 2012

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Oh dear, this isn’t good. There has been a bit of a backlash from fans as to the quality of this series going from must see show of the week to maybe see sometime show just for the sake of it. I wouldn’t go that far myself but it has been so far the weakest first half of a series since it’s return in 2005.

So what went wrong.

There seems to be mixed feelings from fans as to how last years series 6 turned out with a long running arc dealing with River Song taking up a chunk of the series. I quite liked it for the most part but the vocal majority might have influenced the Moff this year with his plan to do Doctor Who episodes as complete stand alone episodes having the quality and story of a movie crammed into 45 minutes.

This is NOT what we got.

Asylum Of The Daleks

So a great way to start the season with the return of the Daleks and not just the most recent Daleks to appear but the Moff said they were bringing back EVERY Dalek model since the show started in the 1960s

This is NOT what we got.

I hardly saw any of the old models. None of them appeared as moveable characters onscreen, they were background filler covered in dust and cobwebs making them indistinguishable. As an episode that heavily promoted the return of ALL of the Daleks this aspect was a let down.

The good parts were that now Daleks of some kind can now look human, an interesting new development which striked terror into me and I felt the Daleks overall were scary this time. Skaro was cool too.

Unexpectedly the Doctor’s future companion shows up in this. I did not like her one bit. Witty genius has been done. As has the “Rory and Amy have an argument” thing…
As has this damn “Doctor Who?” stuff. OK we did this cliche years ago yet it keeps cropping up frequently in episodes throughout series 6 and 7.
This episode was not the most inventive Dalek story and I expected a little more from the life long Doctor Who fan Moff on this.

Dinosaurs On A Spaceship

Such a fun concept that couldn’t even keep me awake through my tiredness. There seemed to be an effort to make the episode more exciting than it actually was. A Kiddish episode that ends with the Doctor letting someone die as payback.

A Town Called Mercy 

The Doctor acts weird in this episode as we see him waving a gun around. Are we dealing with a post ponds Doctor?Meaning this is a Doctor meeting the Ponds before their eventual fate which he is aware of? Or is it a prelude to the Valeyard.

The good thing I liked was the brief talky moments where the Doctor is compared to the Villain and that when self righteousness is brushed aside the dark deeds of the Doctor aren’t so dissimilar.

The Power Of Three

A nice episode with Doctor spending time on Earth with the Ponds. Would have liked to have seen more funny Doctor on Earth moments.

The Angels Take Manhattan

As a Weeping Angel episode this was fairly weak and the “don’t blink” rule isn’t in full force in my opinion as they are able to escape the angels far too easily. The focus is mostly the end of the Ponds and perhaps it was wrong to include the Weeping Angels in an episode where the main focus wasn’t on them. I mean putting the Angels in it already gives people a good guess as to how Rory and Amy will buy the farm.

As for the time travel inconsistencies, well, jesus……here we go…

So in the end Amy and Rory are trapped in the past. I believe 1938. The Doctor says he can never go to 1938. Then can’t he go to 1939?

The Doctor sees their Gravestone. No date on it except their age at their death. The Doctor says that this is a “fixed point” that is unchangeable in time.

Pretty F’ing useless having a time machine then!

I jest of course…
Hasn’t the Doctor watched Bill and Ted? He could have gone back in time and put that gravestone there himself. If Amy’s name can appear on it, the Doctor could surely make it disappear. Do a ‘Back to the Future’ on it and it’s erased. The magic headstone tells me Rory and Amy weren’t originally part of that timeline so where’s the paradox? It’s not like Rose’s Dad. It’s not a fixed point. They aren’t living in their own timeline, they weren’t originally part of those Historical events. Even consider the Butterfly effect (time ripple) of having two people from 2012 (2021?) living in 1938 who never should have been there to begin with. The consequences could be catastrophic.

After all this we still don’t know why the Doctor uses Guns now and kills people.

A weak start to series 7 and it’s been a really off year. This is the blandest series yet. I’m still watching though. I still believe in the Moff.

Favorite Quote: “I’m not running away from things. I’m running to them before they flare and fade forever.” - The Doctor

Star Trek Enterprise Season 4 September 8, 2012

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Season 4 would be the last series of Star Trek Enterprise and so far the last of the franchise. Things were already looking pretty grim for the series ratings wise and it was looking touch and go for a while whether or not the series would even get a season 4. However the odds were a little more in favor for season 4 as it would bring the episode count up to 98 close enough to 100 to put the series into syndication.The show was moved to Friday nights in the US much like the original series was in it’s 3rd season. A position where it’s ratings had little chance of increasing.

B&B seeing blood in the water took a back seat to production and Manny Coto took lead of the series. His plan was to produce mini episode arcs that spanned 2-3 episodes each. This would save cost on production and would represent a mini movie within the series. He being a big fan of Star Trek tried to fix the continuity issues of the series and brought in writers such as Judith and Garfield Reeves Stevens to write some episodes of Star Trek.

Season 4 starts awkwardly leaving Manny Coto in a bit of a hole he needed to Dig himself out of. Space Nazis! The whole Temporal Cold War storyline up until this point had been a complete mess and the two part episode ‘Storm Front’ did little to change that fact.

The in episode continuity even makes a bigger mess of it. Reed mentions that Vosk must be stopped from starting the Temporal Cold War. What? Nobody said that. Did he mean the “time war”? Somehow Vosk’s future actions are what cause the mess to begin with and I can’t be bothered trying to explain this. It makes no sense, really and truly. A pretty poor start to series 4.
Brent Spiner returned to Star Trek as Arik Soong. As a bit of a ratings booster and probably as a favor to producer Brannon Braga whom he would shortly work with on a new sci-fi series (that got cancelled).

For all the good season 4 did something about it seemed a little off early on. I don’t know if it was the 3 episode story arc or the lower budget but I can’t quite put my finger on what exactly was wrong. It was lacking some bit of intensity that the previous seasons had. Take the Augments arc. The main villains are pretty much a bunch of models with grunge type clothing, they had no screen presence. Of course at this stage I was being completely awed by Battlestar Galactica.

Things got awesome for Enterprise with the Vulcan Arc though and suddenly I felt like I was watching the Star Trek series I had wanted to see. The first episode of the Arc was written by the Reeves Stevens and they blew it out of the water. CBS, put these magnificent writers in charge of the next series and your pockets will never be empty.
Some puzzling things. Where did the Trip/T’pol relationship spring from? I know they had a bit of a fling in season 3 but come season 4 there seems to be some kind of relationship that we didn’t see form clearly. Unless we consider the one night stand in season 3 to be an actual relationship development.

The return of the Romulans was done so well, first in the Vulcan arc and then in the Coalition Arc. It’s quite an impressive idea to use Warbirds outfitted as Drone ships to attack others vessels and a nice way of planting the seeds for the unseen Romulan War. We also get the first hints of the Federation with a coalition of different Alien species as a response to the Romulan threat.

‘In a Mirror Darkly’ was a fun episode and was a bit on the fannish side, as some people might call fan wank. But never the less it was fun. Watching it by myself I thought it was just ok but watching it again about two years later in Tokyo with a few drinking buddies at a guest house it became a lot more enjoyable as the two other guys had no idea what was going on but loved all the twists and even shouting “yay Enterprise!” when the constitution class Defiant came on screen.

The final two episode worked on by Manny Coto and his crew was the Terra Prime two parter that was seen as the last hurdle humanity had to overcome, themselves. It would have been a perfect way to end the series but instead we got….
“These are the Voyages….” The final episode of Star Trek Enterprise written by B&B who called this a “Valentines to the fans”. The fans called it “a kick in the balls and a slap in the face”.

If we had ever gotten a Season 5 would would have seen such stories as the Borg Queen Origin, The Romulans as major villains, the return to the Temporal Cold War, Shran joining the crew of the Enterprise, The Kzinti, the first starbase, the return to the mirror universe and a possible crossover episode with Doctor Who! Bugger we missed that!

Favorite Quote:Up until about a hundred years ago, there was one question that burned in every Human, that made us study the stars and dream of traveling to them. Are we alone? Our generation is privileged to know the answer to that question. We are all explorers driven to know what’s over the horizon, what’s beyond our own shores. And yet the more I’ve experienced, the more I’ve learned that no matter how far we travel, or how fast we get there, the most profound discoveries are not necessarily beyond that next star. They’re within us, woven into the threads that bind us, all of us, to each other. A final frontier begins in this hall. Let’s explore it together.” - Captain Jonathan Archer

Men in Black III May 25, 2012

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Why did I see this… Maybe a hope for a better film than II was which was a mess. Maybe because Josh Brolin is in it and might bring something new to this movie. Maybe because of the time travel aspects since I’m a sucker for Time Travel stories. It is better than II, not as original as the first. Mildly entertaining and passes the time. It’s an ok film, the production values and Will Smith make it better. I was never really eager to see a sequel made the first time round and it’s one of those movie series where I just wonder who did want a sequel to this?

Agent K is erased from the present day time by an evil Alien named Boris who goes back in time to kill him. Agent J is the only one to notice the fracture in the timeline and starts drinking chocolate milk (don’t get it). So in order to save the world he must travel back in time to save K and the world from Boris who is just another two dimensional villain along with all the other Men in Black Villains.

There are a few laughs but nothing that’s laugh out loud. The Aliens in New York joke has been done in the previous movies so they go back to the 1960s to milk that era. There’s a bit of set up where Agent J is warned about the racial prejudices in the 60s, fortunately they only do one gag on this. It’s something that has been done to death in other movies but I didn’t see the reason to point it out before agent J time jumps back to the 60s. Why not just show the gag by itself without the history lesson?

I liked the Alien’s style of the 1960’s New York looking more like cheap looking “man in a suit” Alien costumes from Sci-Fi shows of that era instead of the usual CGI creations. Nice touch.

Josh Brolin is very good as a young Agent K sounding very much like Tommy Lee Jones and at times like George Bush. I wonder if there is a future sequel will they try to work the younger K into it as it seemed to me that Tommy Lee Jones’s character was being replaced by the younger self. Jones is getting visibly older and might not be so interested in running around chasing Aliens anymore. Just starring as one in coffee commercials….

There’s an Alien Character in this movie that helps J and K. This Alien can see the many possible outcomes of future events, which sounds like a pretty interesting concept for a stand alone movie. I found it unnecessary though to add a character that could predict future events when we already have J who traveled from the future with foreknowledge of the past and the two possible futures. The ones with and without K. Which made the precognitive Alien rather pointless here.

The ending is predictable to say the very least and there is a point where you pretty much know what will happen to a certain character. The big finale at the Apollo 11 launch site reminded me of ‘Star Trek Generations’ finale with Kirk, Soran and Picard. Seriously. The Rocket is there. There’s the object that they are fighting over that is key to the Rocket launch, there’s the countdown. Very similar.
This is also the 3rd time I have seen Apollo 11 be used as a plot point. It was used in ‘Transformers 3′ it was used in ‘Doctor Who Series 6′ and it’s used here again.

And sorry but I can’t look at those one wheeled bikes without thinking of that South Park episode that features them….

Favorite Quote: “I’ll tell you the only thing you need to know.” - K

Star Trek Enterprise Season 3 May 23, 2012

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Earth is attacked by an unknown Alien race. Earth’s best Starship ‘Enterprise’ is sent on a mission to find who did it and stop a second attack from destroying their entire planet.
We’ve seen this before. ‘Space Battleship Yamato’ and also ‘Crusade’. Having watched all 3 sci-fi shows doing the same kind of storyline it’s interesting to compare each. While ‘Crusade’ never got the chance to complete it’s storyline before being cancelled it did show a ship called “Excalibur” with a giant beam canon like the Yamato on a mission to find a cure to a virus that would kill everyone on Earth in five years. The Yamato had a year to save Earth too from Asteroids and Radiation. Both Enterprise and Yamato faced similar difficulties towards the end of their missions with each ship getting the snot beat out of them.

Season 3 starts off with a rather crappy episode demonstrating the weirdness of the Expanse as a Bermuda triangle type of place. Scott Bakula hams it up by making Archer a complete dick who walks around impatient and angry which seems too sudden and early a transformation. The Macos are, well, a bunch of background actors who display some stunts and military action which looks awfully staged which I find became a problem with later Star Trek series such as Voyager and Enterprise. A fight no longer looks like a fight but a demonstration.

This is the season where the Nick Name ‘Airlock Archer’ cropped up when the once good natured Captain Archer almost kills someone to get information. Again I feel it’s the character going over the top and changing too quickly. We’ve seen Captain Painway do something like this in Voyager which I equally didn’t like. It might be because the writers only know how to write one type of character “angry male”. Janeway is a bit of a lost argument, when female producer Jeri Taylor left Voyager so did the female aspect of Janeway.
In a later episode of Season 3 ‘Choosen Realm’ which is about Suicide bombers taking over the Enterprise, the leader of the group calls Archer out on him almost Airlocking someone. Archer replies that the man wasn’t hurt. Wasn’t Hurt? He almost suffocated a man. Is water boarding ok also because it “doesn’t hurt”? How about the psychological damage done?

There’s a line in the Vulcan Zombie episode ‘Impulse’ that I really like and it’s said by Archer. “”I can’t try to save Humanity without holding on to what makes me Human.”. It’s a nice line and I think one that Star Trek in general tries to uphold, however in Season 3 it’s just words. I don’t believe Archer’s actions match his beliefs anymore. Either he is lying to others or to himself. I’m not arguing that he isn’t in the most difficult position in the world but I feel in a way the Morals of Star Trek lost this time.

T’pol reminds Archer of what he said in the episode ‘Damage’, an episode where I feel Star Trek had the biggest failing in morals. Archer attacks a non hostile vessel to steal Warp Coils. It’s a great episode actually but it didn’t sit with me well.

In May 2004 Scott Bakula did a live online chat with fans on Startrek.com and by luck my question to him on this very issue got through.

What did you think of Archer’s actions in “Damage”? Do you think the ends justify the means? What would you have done in his situation?

SB: I think that it was a challenging, complicated episode and I think any episode of television that can stir a response that’s emotional and controversial is good television. I can’t answer really what I would have done if it were me, because I don’t think you can answer those questions hypothetically. You have to be in the moment and living with that reality and only then are you able to look into your own heart and make those kinds of choices. But I don’t think Archer had any choice.

I couldn’t agree more. I think it’s one of those situations where you can’t really say what you will do until you are face to face with the reality of it. It is a bit of a Kobayashi Maru. If he didn’t attack that ship there was a strong possibility Earth would be destroyed.

While I have problems with the episode in regards to Star Trek’s philosophy overall I still like that it raised a very good and debatable question and it’s probably one of my favorite episodes of the series.

The last 7 episodes of the Season 3 Arc are of movie like quality in terms of story, acting and special effects. It’s a roller coaster ride to the end and I liked how it all finally came together. I liked seeing the relationship between Archer and Degra grow to one of mutual respect. I liked that the Xindi council was no longer a cliche. I liked that the Spheres added a deeper mystery to the overall story and that they tied the Sphere Builders into the Temporal Cold War. It might have all come a bit too late though.

What I didn’t like was T’pol becoming a crack whore. Taking drugs and sleeping with Trip to explore sexuality. I remember reading once that J. Michael Straczynski
was asked to include a character of a similar nature in his short lived series ‘Crusade’ but he refused to appeal to the lowest common denominator of the audience. I think that’s where many Star Trek fans feel pissed off with this series, it had more obvious low brow scenes to attract a younger male audience by showing women in a degrading light.

The most useless changes to season 3 was renaming the series ‘Star Trek: Enterprise’ and give the opening theme tune a faster tempo making it sound like a corny karaoke song. Minor details like this would not attract more fans.

As for the time travel well nothing seems to get resolved this season either. Scott Bakula had mentioned that he had heard that they might deal with this after season 3 but that never happened. The Sphere Builders seem to exist outside of time and are able to monitor different timelines which seems to mean the alterations of one timeline. The Sphere’s themselves might be something that exist outside of time, a bit like Gallifrey. The Xindi have said the Spheres were around for thousands of years but it that were the case why are they so slow to transform the expanse. It seems they have been there a long time and also not there so long. Daniels the useless time traveller tells Archer that effects of the Xindi attack haven’t yet reached his time in the 31st century. Usually changes in the timeline are instant. Take ‘Shockwave’ for example.

Ignoring these nitpicks Season 3 aint so bad. Having a long season Arc on Star Trek was never done before. They had previously wanted to do a Year of Hell Arc on Voyager but the network put the kibosh on that. But when Enterprise was on the air shows like ‘24′ were extremely popular so a lot of season 3 has that format. This was Enterprise’s year of Hell. While I dislike having the new kewl alien race Xindi the overall Arc has a large scale story that is rare to see in this franchise. It makes each episode necessary to see.

Favorite Quote: “It’s not that i’m afraid of dying. I just can’t imagine not being here tomorrow.” - Sim

Enterprise Season 2 May 16, 2012

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Season 2 starts with a rather lazy and unimaginative way of concluding part 1 of Shockwave and Enterprise continuing it’s mission of the week episodes just as Voyager and The Next Gen did. The unhealthy trend of rehashing old stories. In previous interviews with writers and producers of ‘Star Trek the Next Generation’ it seems that they were trigger happy on shooting down ideas pitched if they were already done on Star Trek and one of the reasons for ending on season 7 of TNG was partly because of running out of good stories for that particular format. Yet in Enterprise all this seems irrelevant. Rehashed stories include (Vanishing Point, Precious Cargo, Dawn and Judgement. Lets not forget the Borg (face palm). Deary me. Did the producers really expect people would keep watching the same thing over and over again?

We did get some really good Star Trek episodes with Stigma, Future Tense, The Breach and Cogenitor showing that the series can be good when it was allowed to be.

We finally get to see 22nd Century Romulans, with cloaks (face double palm). Everyone was pretty excited about the Romulans and what it could mean for the series. Even the producers had hinted at more episodes later in the season 2. Instead we got Borg and Xindi. The Romulan’s introduction was clearly a way to capitalize on the Movie Nemesis which feature Romulans also and was released in 2002.

Speaking of the Romulan episode ‘Minefield’ Reed has become a bit of a tight arse complaining about the captain fraternizing with the crew because he invited Reed to breakfast, yet in season 1 Reed had no problems having some beer and Cake with Trip and Archer.

As for the Borg, it’s continuity error free. But if Archer can check past instances of Cybernetic Zombies then why can’t Picard have done so too? Perhaps finding a log by Captain Archer about this race invading his ship. Or maybe Picard would have brushed it off as ole drunkard Johnny and his stories.

Season 2 ended with an Attack on Earth. Yes, Romulans! I thought. But no, instead it was another new kewl alien species we never heard of in the previous 600 episodes of Star Trek that take place after ‘Enterprise’. The ratings of Season 2 weren’t great and nearing the end of the season the Enterprise had to turn around towards Earth a few times to get her closer to home. The producers were obviously planning this mid way through season 2. The Xindi attack on Earth itself left me with a bad feeling. The impression a lot of people had was that the producers were trying to do the 9/11 attacks in Star Trek. 7 million people get killed in the Xindi attack and the episode poorly attempts to show the shock of the crew towards this event. Coming a little over 2 years after 9/11, this episode didn’t sit right with me. I felt it didn’t belong in Star Trek. The whole terrorist/shocking event angle was done in DS9. But here they decide to show an attack on Earth and have the crew go gun ho after the people who did it. This really was the George Bush of Star Treks. The show was in trouble and this was the producers solution, to radically change the mission of ‘Enterprise’ from one of peaceful exploration to one of revenge. You can argue that the plot is to stop a second attack on Earth but the general attitude of the characters was how big a hole they could blow in the Xindi. Unfortunately this means that Archer would start to become a bit of a dick starting here where he shouts “Go to hell!” to the klingons as if he were a grumpy old drunk man.

As problematic as season 1 and 2 was season 3 was to be the decisive season of the franchise that would radically change Star Trek and the future of the franchise.

Favorite Quote: “Do you… want to become a casualty of a war that ended 300 years ago?” - Captain Archer

Doctor Who Series 5 & 6 April 29, 2012

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Series 5
Or series 1 or series 11.1 or series 31

If I were to sell someone on this series of Doctor Who I might say it’s the Sci-fi version of Harry Potter. That might be a stretch for some but I believe this new series with Matt Smith as the Doctor and Steven Moffat producing has a lot of magic, fantasy and mythology playing throughout it. Not to mention it opens like a fairy tale, the Doctor and his Tardis falling out of the sky and being found by a little girl who discovers a crazy lanky man who is also discovering himself. This is the bond that leads them to their future friendship and for the young girl Amy Pond it’s a lifetime fascination with a young wizard.. I mean Timelord! Sorry, a Time Lord has his blue box (broom) and sonic screwdriver (wand). Seriously, it’s a fairy tale in the making all the way up to the last episode of series 5 where it shows that the memory of a young girl is what keeps this fabulous character in existence.

I have to take my hat off to Moffat pictured above. The Doctor Who fan has written some of my favorite episodes in the most recent series of Doctor Who and taking over at series 5 is no easy task. A lot of the mystery and fantastic nature of the Doctor has been done at the start of the 2005 when Russel T Davis restarted the series. The relationship between Rose and the Doctor was extra special because a lot of the focus was placed on the wonder of their journey, Rose seeing the end of the world in the future, returning to the past and her feet touching the ground of London in the 19th century. A lot of emphasis was put on the wonder of it all. Unfortunately it’s not something you can repeat with each companion without it getting stale.

Series 5 gets going quickly and it gives the impression of something quite epic spreading itself out across time and space. The crack in time is a nice plot device that is better than just having a word or name that crops up every episode. I also like how the lid is blown off it about midway through the series at the worst possible time when the Doctor is fighting the Weeping Angels. Another creation by Steven Moffat. Season 5 was probably one of the best series so far.

We are not worthy!

Series 6
It was this series that blew the lid off the River Song mystery. I have always liked the character of River Song and genuinely looked forward to seeing her future adventures with the Doctor from the time she was introduced in the episodes Forest of the Dead/Silence in the Library. Her episodes have been some of the best and most interesting in Moffat’s run at ‘Who’ but I do have one little nitpick about how he went about it.

Why was there mystery surrounding river Song?

Ok, really the answer is, for TV purposes, to keep the audience tuning in and giving something for their brains to chew on. A character that people had wanted to see return and had great chemistry with the Doctor. Regardless of that, and on a purely story level why did there need to be the question “Who is River Song?” because since her introduction in series 4 my answer had always been “She’s a future Companion of the Doctor that he may have fallen in Love with”. The idea that her background needed to be explored, that there was something beyond that was unnecessary in my view. I didn’t need to know where she got her name, who her parents were or why she was born! A person’s life doesn’t need to be so exciting or linked to so many aspects of the Doctor to make them interesting. This is what us geeks refer to as “Small Universe Syndrome”.

The mystery and story that “I” wanted to see was “Why would the Doctor tell her his name?”. How did the Doctor and River Song get so close that the Doctor would tell her his name because as the Doctor says there is only “one” reason why he would tell anyone that. While it’s not implicitly stated I think we all believe that the reason is because he loved her. Moffat has partly answered this question in his series and it’s still something possibly forthcoming but the way he has done the Doctor/River just wasn’t exactly how I hoped it would turn out.  The episodes of these two characters in series 5 were interesting and showed their adventures together. Series 6 just explained too much and you didn’t feel the Doctor loved this woman when he said “you embarrass me” to her face in front of her parents…on their wedding day…. Ouch sweety. Very ouch. I also found that Moffat made it too easy for fans to guess who she was and who had killed the Doctor. He left too many clues that by the time the big reveal came it wasn’t really a pull the rug from under your feet surprise.

Series 6 introduces another simply ingenious Alien baddie with the Silents an Alien that you can’t remember is behind you the moment you look away. That’s pretty scary for the audience more so than the character since the people watching at home are likely screaming at the TV to run but the character has completely forgotten that there was an alien standing right behind him.

Series 6 was a little weaker than series 5. Their seems to be a few more bottle type episodes where the characters don’t move around much. Likely the cut backs at the BBC are the cause of these episodes. The gangers episode was great dealing with racial prejudices.

I really like Matt Smith as the Doctor and I dare say I like the 11th over Timey Wimey 10th. I find that Smith is funny, quirky and yet is able to portray the maturity and wisdom of a man 1100 years old. I find that he is a Doctor that can appeal to a younger generation in a good way. He’s somewhat of a buffoon in front of kids yet utterly charming. His catchphrase “Geronimo” is in my view from an old Humphrey Bogart and I think Moffat is a fan of old movies as he uses the answer “A Woman” when somebody asks what happened to time. I believe the “A Woman” answer came from a Western.

Time Travel Aspects: Moffat enjoys using time travel to it’s full effect and often has characters meeting out of order in the time line. He has events depicted earlier been caused by events that happen later such as the cracks in time.  This is fun but over doing it can be frustrating if you are required to wait for everything to play out before you can get a proper conclusion.

Favorite Quote: “The way I see it, every life is a pile of good things and bad things. The good things don’t always soften the bad things, but vice versa the bad things don’t always spoil the good things and make them unimportant.” - The Doctor

Enterprise Season 1 April 9, 2012

Posted by oldboy in : DVD/Video/T.V., Science Fiction, Time Travel , 2 comments

Before Janeway, Picard, Sisko, Spock and Kirk…there was Enterprise.
Back in 2001 the first Starship Enterprise ventured out into space on our TV screens. I remember at the time that it was strange that this unknown Historically significant Enterprise had never been mentioned before in the previous 600 episodes of Star Trek but looking back it just seems to fit in now. When the show first aired it was called only ‘Enterprise’ after the first Starfleet ship of the same name.

Casting Scott Bakula as the first Captain of the Enterprise seemed like a stroke of genius. I was eagerly anticipating the series after his casting and he seemed like the perfect and most natural choice. Having watched him for years on ‘Quantum Leap’ I could think of no better actor that could display the philosophies of a future generation to us and the past generation of Star Trek. But while I think he is an excellent actor he wasn’t the character I was expecting. I think I was looking for another Sam Beckett. There are times in ‘Enterprise’ when Archer and the human crew come across as a bunch of annoying tourists who don’t respect other cultures as much as they should, at times they seem to belittle T’pol and her Vulcan culture. In another episode they want to visit a Vulcan temple which T’pol reminds them is a place of solitude and peace. Instead of taking a hint the opinion of Archer and Trip is “well we came this far, we wanna see it!”. I’m not entirely sure if the characters were written this way because it’s set in an era closer to ours but the culture of Earth they represent isn’t always representative of all of Earth. A hundred years later or 45 years earlier depending on how you choose to look at it Kirk seemed to carry the flag of all nations on his back. It doesn’t help that Archer seems to continually get kidnapped and have the crap beaten out of him. Sam Beckett on the other hand was skilled in Martial Arts. Fans don’t usually like to see the Captains in such weak situations.

The episodes weren’t always as exciting either. Take the opening “Tease” for the show. In one Tease it’s Captain Archer falling in the shower, another it’s Phlox feeding his pets and then cut to opening titles. Why would a viewer be interested to keep watching the rest of the episode with that kind of a tease? Compare it to a Tease from BSG season 1 where a character wakes up and discovers that they have planted explosives across the ship without realizing it, or another Tease where a suicide bomber blows himself up in the opening minutes.

Other problems the show had were beyond just superficial things. The music sounds a little too similar to the music of the previous three shows of TNG, DS9 and VOY. The shooting style is also similar, wide angle, close up, tight close up, rinse and repeat. The writing on some episode used similar storylines from previous series. Everything was starting to get repetitive. TV was moving on with new ways to tell stories and dramatic ways to visualize them while ‘Star Trek: Enterprise’ stuck to the old and trusted formula instead of taking a risk and being bold as it had been previously. Take the New Battlestar Galactica series again which was everything Star Trek wasn’t. Some people hate it but at least it was fresh, exciting and new compared to tired and done before. I never believed Star Trek needed to be rested. It just needed some fresh blood and a little bit more risk. By risk I don’t mean embarrassing scenes of characters rubbing each other down in jelly as we saw in the ‘Enterprise’ pilot. The original concept for the show sounded far more interesting. According to Brannon Braga the first season was to be set on Earth with the final episode of the season being the launching of the NX Enterprise.

There are some really nice episodes in season 1 that show the promise of what the show could have been. I liked “Silent Enemy” and “Dear Doctor” quite a bit. “Silent Enemy” for showing the vulnerabilities and doubts of the ship and it’s Captain as they come under attack from an unknown species and we also get to see them instal new weapons slowly rolling out the goods that Treknology had to offer giving us a prequely feel to the episode. For the same reason I also like “Dear Doctor” that discusses the implications of saving a species that nature may have earmarked for extinction. Doctor Phlox points out that if Enterprise were to save these people they might be playing God. What if Aliens had helped Neanderthals? Then the Human race might not have existed. It puts Captain Archer in a morally difficult situation with no right answer and he is living in a time before the Prime Directive (the rule of non interference with less advanced species) was ever written up.

Things I liked overall. It’s a Prequel! So everyone says Star Trek is about Humanity moving forward and it should be continually set in the future but I think that is taking too much of a literal stance. It’s about Humanity moving forward. I think Century isn’t important. It’s the ongoing story of the Human spirit. Seeing a Prequel of where they were going and how they get to a more enlightened time appeals to me. The problem though is this: it didn’t feel like a prequel. The setting seems far too advanced to the hints we had been given before. I had always hoped for a different looking series that truly set itself apart doing away with the saucer. Other good things: Uniforms, Pulse Weapons, Grappler, shuttle pods, Time Travel (but not in execution), The cast, the Dog, Sick Bay, Vulcan ships.
With all that said, now that the show has been off the air for a few years and it’s had time to mature I find myself liking it more. Season 1 in particular was strong and I think from Season 2 onwards it shifted to a less appealing show. I really like the cast of Enterprise but it seems a little unfortunate that some of them are given less screen time after season 1. Malcom Reed, Mayweather, Hoshi all had more screen time when the series started. Malcom Reed was a strong character and in season one had formed a fun onscreen relationship with Trip Tucker which added some nice lite moments to the show. Unfortunately these characters got squeezed out and the series became the Archer, Trip and T’pol show. I realize that these three actors had in their contracts to appear in every episode but I find there was too much story surrounding them. The same thing happened on Voyager with the show focusing on Janeway and Seven of Nine.

Time Travel Aspects:…where to start…

I get why the producers decided to introduce the Temporal Cold War aspect to the series to keep the show relevant and make the audience think that just because it’s a prequel doesn’t mean the future is secure. There had been rumors of a Time-Travel only show and this seems to be something of a go between. Probably influenced by the prequel hype created by Star Wars.
The problem here is that the TCW was an Arc that was never really developed and was carelessly handled. In the first season episode ‘Cold Front’ the time Traveler Daniels tells Archer that it is “imperative we find out what Silik is doing and who is behind this”. Three seasons later and we were none the wiser about what was going on. Nothing was resolved and everything was nonsensical. Silik stopped the Enterprise from exploding. Daniels took Archer out of his own time to protect him and destroyed his future. Future guy offers help to Archer at the end of season 2 against the Xindi. Just what was going on and who was helping who. Nothing is ever made clear. If the events of the TCW were always a part of the timeline it makes the concept rather pointless as the outcome would surely be already known by factions involved. But since these factions have knowledge outside their own time it’s likely that these events are new and will become part of the established timeline. Therefore Humans and Klingons encounter each other sooner, Earth is attacked by the Xindi when it never was in the first place and the Enterprise may have had a very different fate to what happened in the series. So all that means we have a definite altered timeline, not alternate depending on your view of Quantum Theory.

One thing that is sure about this TCW mess. Daniel’s is either the Evil Mastermind (future guy) or he is a complete and utter idiot who destroyed the timeline through careless actions. I lean towards the latter.
It’s quite clear Enterprise is dealing with only one timeline. So is it Paradoxes, Predestination or an Altered timeline? Klingon first contact doesn’t seem to contradict anything as some claim. The McCoy line in “Day of the Dove” about the first contact around 2218 doesn’t exist and was cut from the script. Picard’s statement in TNG that First Contact with the Klingons was disastrous is partly true. A Klingon Ship crashed on Earth and each encounter the NX Enterprise had with the Klingons things only got worse in Human and Klingon relations.

It could be that the first Starfleet Ship was supposed to be called Dauntless as screen evidence in Voyager suggests. Possibly Zefram Cochrane seeing the Enterprise-E in the 21st Century might have changed the name and design of the ship to reflect what he saw through his telescope.

Favorite Quote: “Someday… my people are going to come up with some sort of a doctrine, something that tells us what we can and can’t do out here, should and shouldn’t do. But until somebody tells me that they’ve drafted that directive… I’m going to have to remind myself every day… that we didn’t come out here to play God.” - Captain Jonathan Archer

Doctor Who Series 3 & 4 or (29 & 30) March 25, 2012

Posted by oldboy in : DVD/Video/T.V., Science Fiction, Time Travel , add a comment

Season 3 of Doctor Who starts off in the vein of Pirates of the ‘Caribbean’ with the Doctor becoming more adventurous and swash buckling to the theme of music that sounds a lot like ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ music. By the end of season 3 he turns into Dobby and then becomes Jesus and it all ends with an ending of Return of the Jedi mixed with Flash Gordon. RTD let things edge a bit too much towards homage and like for all these other popular franchises. Martha Jones is a weak companion and like Rose she is in love with the Doctor except that the Doctor doesn’t love her and still pines for Rose. Awkward!

Still season 3 did have some high points with “The Family of Blood” two parter and of course Steven Moffat’s Blink. The Master returns by the end of the season as does Captain Jack whom are both out of character, the master acting zany like Tennant’s Doctor and Captain Jack becoming a caricature of himself with little else to do except die…

But with all that said it was a fun series finale even if the Doctor did become God like with everyone using their power of thought to help him.

Season 4

Now that’s more like it. I had been really against Donna Noble returning to Doctor Who as I had never liked the character from “The Runaway Bride”. But she turned out to be one of my all time favorite companions. Firstly because there is real chemistry between Tennant and Tate, they play off one another well and are quite funny together. Their second encounter in season 4’s ‘Partners in Crime’ had me in stitches laughing. What also works is that Donna isn’t swooning over the Doctor unlike previous companions. As she says she doesn’t want to “mate”. What’s great about her is that she takes the Doctor down to size. He often speaks with a condescending authority over humanity and Donna is the first companion to clip him around the nose for it.

I miss the Doctor/Donna relationship. It was short and sweet much like Season 1 was with the departure of the 9th Doctor. Donna’s faith at the end of series 4 is in some ways worse than death and the final 15 minutes of the episode ‘Journey’s End’ contain some of the most heart breaking scenes in the new series. This would be the final full 13 episode run under Russell T Davis before the Specials. He threw everything into it along with the kitchen Sink. Daleks, Davros, Torch Wood, all the recent companions including Rose and Davros’s plan for the destruction of Reality itself. The return of Rose wasn’t the most exciting and I thought too much emphasis was placed on her. She is just a companion in the end.

Time Travel Analysis: The relationship between the Doctor and Donna is hinted as been something more from early on in the series but instead of a “Bad Wolf” type message being sent into to the past it’s more of a echo from the future to the past about where these two character’s are heading.

In “The Fires of Pompeii” the Doctor discovers that although his job is to protect the fixed points in time he realizes that he is actually responsible in the first place for the fixed point, a sort of predestination paradox. By choosing to not interfere he would be interfering with a large historical event. So he must act in order to preserve history. That’s an interesting idea because it gives credence to the fact that while Timelords do exist outside of Time they are also a necessary part of events that happen and even with their Time travel capabilities there are events that must and have always happened because of their discovery of Time Travel.

Favorite Quote:  “Is that why you travel round with a human at your side? It’s not so you can show them the wonders of the universe, it’s so you can take cheap shots?”- Donna Noble

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