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Doctor Who: The Power of the Daleks, Episode 1

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During my teenage years, I picked up a photonovel copy of “The Power of the Daleks” at a sci-fi convention.   The original script for the long-lost story was put together with the telesnaps (photos of the actual episodes) in an attempt to give fans a chance to see what the watching the serial back in 1966 might have been like.  At the time, I figured this would be a close as I’d get to fully experiencing “The Power of the Daleks.”

When I first got on-line, I discovered the Doctor Who fan community and the practice of sharing the off-air audio from lost serials with each other.  Thank to the generosity of a fellow fan, I was able to acquire the audio from several lost serials that I eagerly listened to, imaging what it might have been like to see the story back during its original airing.  At the time, I figured this would be as close as I’d get to fully experiencing “The Power of the Daleks.” Continue reading

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The Flash: The Man Who Saved Central City

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Picking up six months after the season finale ended last year, “The Man Who Saved Central City” gets the second season of The Flash off to a solid start.

The episode had to do a bit of heavy lifting by not only resolving last year’s massive cliffhanger but also putting the pieces into play for season two.   It’s interesting to note that the show doesn’t pick up right away and tell us how Barry stopped the vortex over Central City last year.  Instead, we see flashbacks to it while getting a look at where everyone is now — both physically and emotionally. Continue reading

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Re-Opening The X-Files: Miracle Man, Shapes, Darkness Falls

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Come on, Scully, it’ll be a nice trip to the forest.

Miracle Man

Two episodes in a row have a connection to my home state of Tennessee.  First up, we had the trucker on the road, listening to the Opry on WSM in “E.B.E.” and now we’ve got a small town with its own miracle worker.

This won’t be the last time the show pays a visit to the Volunteer State.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

“Miracle Man” is an episode with an interesting idea, though it’s not extremely well executed.   Watching it, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the Steve Martin film Leap of Faith and wondering if Samuel’s ability to heal might not be revealed to have started out as a scam but became something different.

The episode does try to tie in some continuity items — Mulder’s visions of the girl who may or may not be Samantha.  And we’re introduced to Scully’s faith — something which will become a major factor in the series and her character as we get deeper into the series and the overall mythology.

And yet beyond that, there’s not much else to really recommend about this one.  It’s a decent hour, but not a great one. Continue reading

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Re-Opening The X-Files: “Fallen Angel”

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Mulder: But you don’t know me. Last night is the first time you’ve laid eyes on me.
Max Fenig: Not true. We at NICAP have been following your career really closely. Ever since you became involved with the X-files.
Mulder: Following my career? How?
Max Fenig: Through the Freedom of Information Act.Your travel expenses are a matter of public record. So, this must be the enigmatic Agent Scully.

Fallen Angel

Or the episode where we discover that Mulder has groupies.

While I recall that Max was part of the show, I’d forgotten that this is the first of his three appearances on The X-Files.   The poor guy is so charming and fun that I can see why the production team decided to bring him back — even if it takes until season four for us to get back to his story.

In many ways, “Fallen Angel” feels like it could be a series finale for the show.  Had Fox decided not to continue on with the series, this one could have wrapped things up.   After getting a heads-up from Deep Throat, Mulder heads out to Wisconsin to potentially find evidence of an crashed alien space ship.     Continue reading

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Re-Opening The X-Files: Pilot

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A couple of days ago, Fox released a promo for the upcoming X-Files revival, challenging fans to get ready for the series’ return in January by re-watching all the episodes.  I thought I might give it a try and since The X-Files came along before I did my tv round-ups, I thought I might blog my thoughts on each episode as we go along.

I can’t say yet exactly how these posts will go.   We may get one episode per post or we may get several.  Or this may not even make it past season one.  We’ll see how it goes.

So, first up, it’s…

The Pilot

Now, I’ll admit I didn’t jump on board The X-Files band wagon right away.  It took until the summer after season two when the show got a bunch of Emmy nods and the recommendations of several friends before I finally gave in and started watching.  And picked about the worst possibly entry point the show had — up that point.  It was right at the end of the Scully is missing arc and I saw “Three” as one of my first episodes.    It’s sort of like how “Time Flight” was my first Doctor Who story.  Not a great entry point and not indicative of the show as a whole.

But it must have been enough to get me hooked. Continue reading

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Doctor Who: Mummy on the Orient Express, Flatline

Since I’m behind on my Doctor Who reviewing, I’m offering commentary on “Mummy on the Orient Express” and “Flatline” in one post.  It’s two posts for the price of one!

Mummy on the Orient Express

mummy_orientIn the 80’s, the production team wanted to introduce audiences to a more alien, less likeable Doctor who would slowly mellow over time and become more and more liked by the audience.  The result was the sixth Doctor and the plan didn’t exactly go, well, as planned.  Colin Baker’s era was one of the most polarizing in the classic series run and led to the show becoming the target of a great deal in internal criticism at the BBC and the show going on hiatus for eighteen months.

With the Peter Capaldi era, I feel like that in addition to destructing the character of the Doctor, Steven Moffat has taken on that task of giving us a more alien, less likeable Doctor and is showing us how it could have and should have been done.   With “Mummy” we look into the question of just how the Doctor goes about solving the problem or defeating the alien threat facing him in each story.   Do the ends justify the means?

In this case, it’s a high body count (nothing new, just watch any story by Robert Holmes) that piles up before the Doctor can come up with a way to stop the Mummy from killing everyone on the train.    Does the Doctor have the right to ask each of these various people to sacrifice themselves in the interest of obtaining data on how to defeat the Mummy and Gus, who has lured the Doctor into this particular trap (interestingly, the Doctor has turned down multiple invitations to come on board and solve this until Clara threatens to leave him.  More on this later).   The Doctor realizes there is a way to stop the Mummy, but it takes data (in this case the death of innocent people) to give him the pieces he needs to solve the puzzle.

Of the stories we’ve seen this year, this one feels like it comes closest to the classic Who model of the “base under siege” story.  In fact, I’d say it felt a great deal like the Tom Baker era story “The Robots of Death” with people trapped in an isolated, locked-room location and a force coming to kill everyone on board.    Having the Doctor chose to take Clara into what can be summed up as “the most typical of classic Who models” for what she wants to be her last hurrah in the TARDIS is interesting.   The Doctor doesn’t give her a tour of the marvels of the universe and all the beauty within it, but instead a classic battle against the forces of evil that he faces.   And in doing so, he gives her a bit of insight into who he is now and just how alien he truly he is.  He also feeds her addiction to traveling with him — the excitement of the discovery and just how these various monsters are defeated. Continue reading

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Doctor Who: Kill the Moon

killthemoonThere must be something about the Doctor using a Scottish accent that makes him go dark, alien and manipulative.

As I’ve said all season, it feels like Stephen Moffat is deconstructing the character of the Doctor to answer the question, “Am I a good man.”   I have a feeling after the events of “Into the Moon” that Clara’s answer would be slightly different than the one she gave a few weeks ago.   She’s probably gone from uncertain to convinced that this new Doctor isn’t really a good man after all, but instead a dark, manipulative character.

It’s interesting to imagine how this story might have played out with other modern Doctors.  It’s easy to see the David Tennant or Matt Smith Doctor figuring out a way to save the alien creature that is hatching from the moon.  In fact, I felt like there were call backs to Matt Smith’s second episode and the space whale with the Doctor’s speech about finding a new name after he’s forced to kill the space whale because that isn’t what the Doctor is or does.    Contrast that with Peter Capaldi’s Doctor who is initially enthusiastic about the discovery but then takes a hands-off approach on the decision on whether or not the young alien hatchling will live or die.  It even gets to the point that the Doctor abandons Clara and Courtney, leaving them to make a momentous decision without his advice or wisdom.

In some ways, “Kill the Moon” felt a bit like Torchwood’s “Children of Earth” in that we are presented with a situation to which there is no right solution — just varying degrees of wrong.  Seeing the Earth people be of one mind to kill the creature rather than risk the possible destruction of Earth was a chilling one.   Coupled with Clara’s conflict over what should be done (I almost wish there had been one single light left on to give us some hope) and her impulsive decision to save the creature, there were moments in the final few minutes that almost felt suffocating.

And yet, unlike “Children of Earth,” the Doctor arrives in the end to say that everything worked out as it should.   Humanity has its moment to look upward and be awed by the universe again.  This story sets into motion the future Earth empire that we’ve seen in other stories with humanity spreading out to the stars.

Of course, it does bring up the question of what did the Doctor know and when did he know it.  Citing a grey area and certain points in history that can’t be altered ,the Doctor refuses to give Clara the assurance that everything will work out, regardless of what her decision is.   It brings up the interesting question of whether or not he’s testing Clara, knowing full well how everything works out.  Or if he’d have come in to save the creature had Clara chosen not to abort the countdown.

It leads to a final scene in the TARDIS that echoes Ace’s anger at the Doctor in “The Curse of Fenric.”  In both cases, the Doctor is keeping details from his companions and allowing them to make decisions, observing them and possibly testing them.  And in both cases, the companions figure this out and blow up at the Doctor, demanding answers.  And while Ace demands answers mid-story, Clara’s wrath comes in the form of rejecting the Doctor and telling him not to come back.    Whether or not she’s truly done with the Doctor remains to be seen.  Danny believes she isn’t because he can still make her angry.    And I have a feeling that the Doctor may try to win Clara back — or at least have her parting with him be under better circumstances.

It should be an interesting ride to the end of the season.

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