Category Archives: review

Review: The Salvation of Doctor Who by Matt Rawle

The Salvation of Doctor Who: A Small Group Study Connecting Christ and Culture (The Pop in Culture Series)The Salvation of Doctor Who: A Small Group Study Connecting Christ and Culture by Matt Rawle

Can my favorite secular television series offer us any insights on the divine? The answer is yes.

Matt Rawle’s book The Salvation of Doctor Who looks at spiritual lessons we can take away from the over fifty year run of the series. The book is broken down into four sections, each one focusing on an aspect of the series from the Doctor himself to the nature of time to the various foes the Doctor has faced over the years. Rawle offers short chapters that are intended to be read daily and to help the reader find deeper meaning from the series.

As a starting point for a conversation, I’ve got to admit I enjoyed this book a great deal. And while I may not necessarily agree with all of Rawle’s points in the book, I still found his arguments were well made and I could see where he was coming from.

This book has a heavy influence on the modern Doctor Who. And while I can see why the book might lean more on the modern stories and their situations, the classic Whovian deep inside me kept wishing we got more than a passing nod to the original stories. I realize that there a lot of new Who fans who haven’t or won’t watch the classic stories and this book is designed to appeal to all fans. But I still can’t help but feel like Rawle only did a passing glance at the fifty year history of the show and possibly overlooked a few lessons that are sitting there in the classic era run.

Also, I can’t help but feel that my reading this book straight through in a couple of sittings wasn’t how it’s intended to be read or experienced. I received a digital ARC of this book from NetGalley, so instead of reading one lesson a day and allowing it to sink it, I read the book straight through in a couple of sittings. This lead me to notice that Rawle begins to repeat certain points in later sections of the book. I might not have noticed (as much) had I used this as a devotional or a conversation starter from a small group as it’s intended.

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Re-Opening The X-Files: The List, 2Shy

2shy

Mulder: The man was obsessed with reincarnation.
Scully: Being obsessed with it doesn’t mean you can do it.
Mulder: No. Unless he knew something we don’t.
Scully: Like what? The secret password?

The List

“The List” isn’t a terrible episode of The X-Files, but it’s not a good one either.  It’s one of those episodes that’s just sort of there.

Chris Carter returns to the directing chair trying to follow-up on the success of “Duane Barry.”  And while this episode is a visual treat, there isn’t much depth to the overall story.    In many ways, it feels like Carter is throwing together a greatest hits of several earlier episodes and offering it up here.

A man named Neech is put to death in the electric chair, but before his execution he swears out revenge on a list of five people.  As people on the list begin to get killed, Mulder and Scully come in to look into whether Neech has discovered the secret to reincarnation or whether he’s got someone helping him carry out his revenge.

The script spends a lot of time taking us down blind alleys and giving us red herrings and sideplots.  It’s a shame that none of these ever quite add up to anything.  Carter’s script attempts to infuse some creepiness into things by having maggots appear on Neech’s victims.  But if you’re waiting for some connection between the maggots and what’s happening here, you’re going to be disappointed. Continue reading

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Re-Opening The X-Files: Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose

clydebruckman

Clyde Bruckman: You know there are worse ways to go, but I can’t think of a more undignified way than autoerotic asphyxiation.
Mulder: Why are you telling me that?
Bruckman: Look, forget I mentioned it. It’s none of my business.

Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose

To paraphrase a quote from Scully in this episode, “There are episodes and then there are episodes.”

“Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose” isn’t just one of my favorite episodes of The X-Files.  It’s one of my favorite episodes of television.  It ranks right up there with Quantum Leap‘s “The Leap Home,” Doctor Who‘s “The Curse of Fenric” and Seinfeld‘s “The Boyfriend” as one of those episodes that transcends the series or genre.  Like some of my favorite movies, if I surf past these episodes, I will stop and watch them from the point I drop in until the end.

The episode won Emmys for writing and guest acting for Peter Boyle.  And it should have helped the series win Best Drama the year it aired.   I feel fairly certain that Picket Fences won that year, but I honestly can’t think of an episode from that season that was quite as transcendent and memorable as this one.

Needless to say, it’s kind of hard to write a review of the episode without it being a complete “golly, I sure love this one” for page upon page upon page.  So, if I get a  bit to gushy on this one, I beg your indulgence and forgiveness. Continue reading

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Review: Star Trek: New Frontier: The Returned by Peter David

Note: Peter David’s latest New Frontier entry was published as three e-book novellas.

Part One

The Returned, Part I (Star Trek: New Frontier)

There were several books I was anticipating reading this summer. But I’ll have to admit that few of them packed quite the same level of “can’t wait to read it” -itis that Peter David’s return to the final frontier did.

It’s been four years since our last visit to the universe of New Frontier and the crew of the starship Excalibur. And in my mind, that’s about three years too long a wait — especially given that David left us on a pretty interesting cliffhanger.

Luckily David’s return to the series proves as much a triumph as I was hoping it would be. The first installment picks up three months after the last one ended and finds Calhoun living a hermit’s existence on his destroyed homeworld and plotting his next move. David catches the reader up quickly on what’s happening — not only with Calhoun but everyone else in the New Frontier universe before setting various new plot threads into motion.

As always with David’s Trek entries, the strengths are solid characters and a sense of humor. David takes his stories seriously but he takes the time to find the humor in the characters, universe and situations. The game of who’s fooling who into “tricking” Calhoun to take on a dangerous mission to the pocket universe is superbly done and feels absolutely like pure David.

As I sat down to start reading part one, I told myself I should take my time, savor it and relish every last second of the book. And then I found myself on the final page with David leaving us hanging for the next part and thankful it was only going to be a month’s wait for the next installment. Continue reading

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Re-Opening The X-Files: DPO

xfilesdpo

Darren: Why do you watch that stuff, anyway? They’re a bunch of losers.
Mrs. Oswald: At least they’re on TV. I don’t see you on TV.

DPO

Nestled in between the monumental events of the season premiere and the instant classic “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose” is Howard Gordon’s intriguing monster of the week episode “DPO.”   These days, the episode is probably best remembered as the one that guest stars Giovanni Ribisi and Jack Black.

When it first aired, I wasn’t overly impressed with “DPO.”  It felt like a bit of step back from what we’d seen the previous two weeks and it certainly isn’t in the same realm as what’s to come next.  But over the years, it’s grown on me a bit.  It’s not a classic episode, but it’s a solid monster of the week storyline.

Darren Peter Oswald was struck by lightning and now has the ability to generate electricity.  In effect, he’s a human lighting rod who can channel up current at will — anything from enough to char Mulder’s cell phone to enough power to kill someone and torment a few cows.   Darren is a bit of slacker who failed his English class in high school.  It was here he met the woman of his dreams — his teacher Mrs. Kiveat*.   Now he works as a mechanic in her husband’s garage, not so secretly pining for her and ready to step up his stalker like behavior. Continue reading

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Review: The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu

The Truth About Alice

Alice Franklin has a bad reputation.

What has she done, you ask.

Well, she slept with two boys at the school year kick-off party. She’s promiscuous — so much so that she’s had an abortion. And she got the star quarterback killed because she was obsessed with him and kept texting him, causing him to become distracted while driving.

But are any of these things The Truth About Alice?

Told from a rotating first-person point of view from four people who interact with Alice, Jennifer Mathieu’s debut novel seeks to fill in some of the details, looking at what is true and what’s been greatly exaggerated. It’s fairly clear from the early moments of the novel that no one could be nearly as awful as everyone says Alice is, but there are some grains of truth in the rumors. But those grains may not always have been planted exactly where you think they were.

I’ll admit some of the revelations seem a bit obvious — but that’s with the benefit of spending a few chapters with each character and finding out that he or she knows more than he or she is telling. The novel doesn’t shy away from the devastation Alice feels or the shame she endures. It also serves as an interesting warning about the power of words and how sometimes people may be protesting too much.

Alice isn’t a saint. But then again, neither is anyone else. And this novel is an interesting way to look at not only how the various characters view Alice but also themselves.

It’s a fascinating read and one that may linger with you a bit after the final page is turned.

20-books-of-summer-master-image

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Re-Opening The X-Files: Anasazi, The Blessing Way, Paper Clip

Anasazi 7

They’ll kill you one of two ways. They’ll send someone, possibly two men. They’ll kill you in your home or in the garage with an unregistered weapon which will be left at the scene. Using false documents supplied by associates of mine, they’ll be out of the country in less than two hours.

Anasazi/The Blessing Way/Paper Clip

There are times when The X-Files requires a huge willing suspension of disbelief on the part of the audience.  No, I’m not talking about things like alien invasions or crazy monsters lurking in sewers or even a vast global conspiracy that has been controlling out lives for decades.  No, I’m talking about the suspension of disbelief that no matter where you are on the planet, you will have cell phone coverage.

Cell phone coverage even extends inside elevators or out in the middle of the desert inside a metal box car that is buried in the ground!

Chris Carter has stated many times that The X-Files was a show that he couldn’t have done as effectively without the rise of cell phones.  But I still find it amusing to look back and see how much coverage and reception Mulder and Scully have at various points in the show.   It’s especially blatant here with Mulder inside a boxcar filled with alien bodies and he only gets cut off from Scully when the CSM shows up in his helicopter (leaving us to believe that Mulder cut off the call and it didn’t just drop out).

This three-part story that spans seasons two and three is all about the series going global — and no, I don’t mean in terms of popularity.  Up to this point, we’d had hints that our government was involved in the conspiracy to cover up the existence of extra-terrestrials.   But with this one, we see that the conspiracy is far more reaching than we originally thought possible.  The opening scene of “Anasazi” where the Thinker (a great case of the show paying off something that had been hinted at earlier in the season) downloading the files onto a digital audio tape (DAT) shows us multiple countries that are involved in the cover-up.    Continue reading

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