Saturday, November 30, 2013

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 1.08: "The Well"

“You know, it would be nice, if for once, Thor and his people sent down the God of Cleaning Up After Yourself. They probably have a magic broom for this kind of thing.”
-Agent Coulson

“The Well” was publicized as a follow-up to the latest film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, “Thor: The Dark World.” It wasn’t as closely tied-in as I thought it might be given the hype, but it was still a fun adventure that deepened the character of Agent Ward. I prefer episodes that focus on FitzSimmons, May, or Coulson (basically anybody but Ward and Skye), but if we had to have another Ward episode, this was a decent one. We got a little more of his backstory and learned about a reason why he’s so uptight all the time. The episode also deepened the mythology of Agent Coulson a bit. He’s still freaking out over what happened in Tahiti, even though everybody around him keeps telling him not to worry about it. Anyway, I do wish that this episode had been a bit more closely tied into the events of “Thor: The Dark World,” but I can understand why it was the way it was. The publicity was probably to shore up the ratings, and by the time they knew the ratings needed shoring up, there wasn’t time to put the same amount of money into this episode that you would put into a Marvel film. It is what it is, though, and it was an enjoyable enough hour.

The episode, as one might expect from all the publicity, begins in the aftermath of the events of “Thor: The Dark World.” Coulson’s team is helping clean up Greenwich University. Their job is to scan all the debris and confiscate anything of alien origin. It feels like they’re doing this because they’re afraid of public reaction to alien artifacts, but the public already knows of the existence of aliens. I’m not quite sure what the big deal would be. This is basically just a chance to get some character interaction between the team, as Simmons is afraid to call her parents since the events of “F.Z.Z.T.” We also see that the interaction between Ward and Simmons is a little strange since those events as well. At the moment, it feels like anybody on the team could end up sleeping with anybody else. If this follows the pattern of some other ABC shows I have watched (cough…Grey’s…cough), that will probably be the case before all is said and done.

We next go to Norway, specifically a remote forest with really, really old trees. A couple, Jakob and Petra (Petra is played by Erin Way, most well known for her role on “Alphas”) infiltrate the forest, much to the chagrin of the forest keeper, who is almost in tears at the idea of somebody defacing his forest. Anyway, Jakob and Petra find a tree they’re looking for, and Jakob breaks out a chainsaw. He saws through the tree and finds a staff with Asgardian runes inside the tree. When Petra takes up the staff, she is filled with rage, and she becomes a fighting machine. We later learn that Petra and Jakob are part of some sort of Norse Paganist cult (that is probably nothing like actual Norse Paganist communities). They are empowering their followers with the staff, and they’re wreaking havoc throughout Oslo. They seem to be upset about the Asgardians returning to Earth, and they keep saying that to defeat gods, they needs to become gods.

Coulson’s team needs to investigate the staff theft, of course, and FitzSimmons use some of their gadgets to make a 3-D model of the half of the staff impression that is still left inside the tree. It’s pretty obvious that this is only a piece of the full weapon. Also, something or someone had to lead Jacob and Petra to the right person. So the team heads to Seville to visit an acquaintance of Coulson who happens to be an expert in Norse mythology. His name is Dr. Elliott Randolph. Randolph immediately identifies the model as part of a Berserker staff, and he has a whole myth to go with it. Apparently there was once an Asgardian who was part of one of the Berserker units who so loved humanity that he decided to stay behind instead of go home with his unit. The Berserker staff calls up deep rage in the user, so this Asgardian wanted to hide his staff before settling into Earth life. He broke it into three pieces and hid each in a different place. The text Randolph is referring to has only vague, cryptic clues about the location of each piece.

The team decides to take both the vague clues and information about geographic locations with Viking ties to try and narrow down potential locations for the other two staff pieces. The best lead is a crypt right there in Seville. Apparently the Vikings sacked it twice back in the day. Ward and Skye head to the crypt to try and retrieve the second staff piece, but they’re beaten there by none other than Randolph. Ward chases Randolph through the crypt, but Randolph gets away. He doesn’t go far, though, before he runs into Jakob, Petra, and some of their followers. They use their super Berserker rage powers to take the second piece of the staff from Randolph. Coulson’s team is definitely not amused when they catch up to Randolph and realize what happened. They’ve got bigger problems than Randolph, though. In the middle of all the confusion, Ward reached out and touched a piece of the staff, and he went all Hulk rage-y. The staff made him flash back to an unpleasant memory of seeing his brother drown in a well. Fun times.

Back on the bus, Coulson starts interrogating Randolph (who keeps things vague and just talks about his general interest in Asgardian culture), and Ward has some tests run to figure out what the staff might have done to him. He’s very agitated and watching Coulson interrogate Randolph just makes him more so. It’s so bad that Simmons offers to sedate him at one point. May steps in, and after a little prompting, we next see Ward in Coulson’s office. He’s explaining about how he’s had to repress some traumatic memories in order to have the control he needs as a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, and the staff has made it difficult to do that. Inexplicably, Coulson decides that this recognition makes Ward trustworthy and offers Ward in on the interrogation. The interrogation is relatively professional until Ward pulls a knife and Randolph catches and bends it barehanded. Turns out that Randolph is actually the Asgardian who stayed behind.

The team wants to know the location of the third piece of the Berserker staff, and Randolph is a little reluctant to give it up. Locking the interrogation room and threatening to call Thor eventually does the trick, though, and the team is soon on their way to an Irish monastery. Randolph retrieves the piece of the staff, but the Paganists arrive and stab him in the heart with it almost immediately. Ward grabs the staff piece out of Randolph’s chest (holy bleed out, Batman) and starts fighting the Paganists with it. While the fighting is going on, Coulson and FitzSimmons attempt to keep Randolph alive long enough for his Asgardian super healing powers to do their thing. Ward regains consciousness from the whole hit of rage thing and sees all the Paganists strewn about the room. At that moment, Petra arrives, ready for a fight. May offers to take this fight on, and she rather easily picks up two pieces of the staff at the same time. And she takes down Petra, of course. Later, May explains that because she constantly relives her worst memory anyway, the staff didn’t do much damage to her.

In the aftermath, Simmons finally makes that call to her parents that she has been avoiding. Randolph also makes the decision to start his life over in a place that is more quiet and less interested in Norse mythology. Ward and Skye hit the bar, where Skye tries to sort of hit on Ward a bit (saying she doesn't mind a bit of Hulk rage now and then), but Ward doesn’t really bite. He sulks up to his room, and as he’s unlocking his door, he sees May unlocking her door. She’s carrying a large liquor bottle, and she leaves the door open behind her after giving Ward a very specific Look. Ward follows May into her room, and it’s not really clear what happens next. Did they get their Hulk rage on together? Did they just talk and cry and share sad memories? The world may never know. In more exciting news, the episode ends on Coulson dreaming about his time in Tahiti. There's a little shout-out to "Dollhouse," as Coulson asks a masseuse, "Did I fall asleep?" and she replies, "For a little while."

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving "Classic" Recap: Suburgatory: "Thanksgiving"

“On Thanksgiving Day, half a dozen members of the Shay family will descend upon our house to eat with their mouth open and dispense unsolicited advice. Most of which will be about my hair.”

“Suburgatory” is a favorite comedy of mine that never quite made it to regular blogging status. It has always had fun Thanksgiving episodes, though, so I figured this was the perfect time to showcase the strange world of Chatswin, Connecticut. “Suburgatory,” in its effort to parody suburbia, can be kind of cartoonish more often than not. What really makes the show work, however, is that those cartoonish characters and situations are grounded in real emotion. I think the snarkiness of Tessa, our high school heroine who was shipped out to suburbia by her dad when he got worried she would fall into bad influences in New York City, also tends to cut through the cartoonishness more often than not. Thanksgiving is a great example of this. Both the Royce and Shay Thanksgiving gatherings are heightened reality and parody, but Tessa’s feelings about not being in New York City for Thanksgiving for the first time are more raw.

As I already alluded to, this is the first time the Altmans (Tessa and her father, George) have spent away from New York City. They had traditions back in New York. They were quirky traditions, but they were theirs. They would go see the balloons for the Macy’s parade being blown up, then they’d have a dinner of turkey burgers and black and white milkshakes at their favorite diner. George is insistent that they’re going to keep their commitment to the suburbs this year, though. He accepts an invitation to a Thanksgiving party at the Royce house. Of course, since it’s Dallas and Dahlia doing the planning, the invitation is ridiculous. A guy shows up in a pilgrim outfit asking for their RSVP and using ye olde language. To say Tessa is unhappy would be an understatement. She’s extra broody about changing the family tradition and not getting to go back to New York.

Meanwhile, Lisa, Tessa’s best friend and across-the-street neighbor, has the Thanksgiving blues, too. She really isn’t a fan of her extended family. All they do is act gross and criticize her hair. To make matters worse, her crazy mother, Sheila, has decreed that Lisa will wear the same dress that her much younger cousins will be wearing. A dress that is part of a Pilgrim costume. Teenage Lisa is not amused. Tessa suggests that Lisa could simply tell her mother that she’d like to wear something else. This is clearly early in the series run before Tessa completely understood the crazy that is Sheila Shay. Lisa takes Tessa’s suggestion, and Sheila shoots it down immediately. She says that if Lisa doesn’t wear the Pilgrim dress, Lisa will not be participating in Thanksgiving. Lisa says she’s fine with this, and she says she’ll be spending the holiday in her room.

George says he has a big architecture job he needs to work on, so he asks Dallas to spend a day with Tessa. The idea is that George wants Dallas to show Tessa all the fun things there are to do in Chatswin so Tessa won’t mind spending Thanksgiving there so much. It’s clear that by this point, the romantic chemistry between George and Dallas is starting to heat up. Dallas is definitely crushing on George, although I think George is ignoring it because Dallas is still married. Anyway, Dallas’ idea of a fun day is to go to the salon. She really wants Tessa, who has curly (albeit rather tame curly) hair to get a Brazilian blow-out. And I’m now wondering why I’m writing about sitcoms using Brazilian blow-outs as a plot point twice in one week. I guess it’s funny because of all the misunderstandings that can take place surrounding the name? Anyway, Tessa has no interest in straightening her hair, but Dallas insists. Dallas offers to do whatever Tessa wants to the rest of the day, and that’s when Tessa knows she’s got her way back to Manhattan. Dallas ends up taking Tessa (now with straight hair) to Manhattan against her better judgment, and she loves the knock-off purses she can buy. They also have fun eating greasy pizza while walking. The fun ends, however, when they see George making out with a woman, who we will later learn in named Zoe. Both Tessa and Dallas are really pissed about this, Tessa because George has been going to Manhattan when he won’t let her go, and Dallas because of her feelings for George.

Given that big reveal, Thanksgiving at the Royce house is bound to be awkward. It also doesn’t help that Dallas’ always traveling for business husband is home for the holiday. The party is, of course, extravagantly offensive (everyone has to choose “Founders or Feathers” as they enter the party). The whole dinner does blow up, but surprisingly, not so much because of Dallas and Tessa having seen George in New York. Instead, there is a big fight between the Royces and the Werners. The Werners think that the Royces aren’t being good parents to Dahlia (which is true, sort of), and the Royces think that the Werners are stuck up (which is definitely true). Tessa does blurt out the fact that she saw George in Manhattan, which doesn’t help the drama, either. It’s the fight between the Royces and the Werners that really makes everybody leave, though.

Meanwhile, at the Shay house, Sheila has gone to new diabolical heights to try and get Lisa to wear the stupid Pilgrim dress. She turns up the heat in the house, because heat rises, and it will make Lisa’s room especially uncomfortable. After a rather touching scene where Lisa’s brother Ryan tells her that he’s proud of her for standing up to their mother, Lisa eventually decides that she just can’t take the heat anymore. She takes refuge in a cold shower. When she gets out of the shower, though, she finds that Sheila has put the Pilgrim dress in the bathroom. Lisa enacts her revenge in the only way she knows how. She goes downstairs naked, and she tells off the whole family. The feeling is so liberating that she runs outside and starts streaking. The fun ends, though, when she hears police sirens. At that point, she starts trying to hide in any nearby cars that might be unlocked. Apparently she finds the Altmans’ car, because she pops up in the back seat when George is driving Tessa to Manhattan for a conciliatory black and white milkshake. Gobble gobble!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Person of Interest 3.10: "The Devil's Share"

“I’m not going to threaten to kill you. I’m going to kill you.”
- Reese

We have come to the end of November sweeps and the three-week event. The first act is a very different approach for the show. Aside from the musical score, there is no dialogue for the first four minutes of the episode. We see Reese recouping in a hospital while Finch, Shaw, Fusco and Carter’s ex-husband and son attend her funeral. Shaw disappears and starts pounding on some criminal types to try and find Simmons. His picture is on every paper and it is not surprising when the Machine gives Finch his number. Just before the first act break, a group of gang bangers is driving along when they’re hit by an oncoming truck. Reese appears all angry and after the guy in the back seat doesn’t seem to give him the info he wants, Reese just walks away. To say he’s out for blood would be a grave understatement.

We jump back to 2010 shortly after Nathan is killed. Finch is seeing a therapist and he asks about the purpose of grief and survivor’s guilt. He wants to know if it ever goes away especially since he knows he’s the one responsible. In the present, Root offers to help Finch but he turns her down. He gets a call from Lionel and shows up at the car crash scene. Witnesses say it was Reese, although since Shaw’s out and a bout causing mayhem it could have been her. Lionel knows that the guys worked for a forger whom they find downtown being tortured by Shaw. It seems she’s been a few steps behind Reese since he dumped the guy off a building and broke his legs. Now our trio figures out that they need to find Quinn’s location since apparently he’s the only one who knows Simmons’ exit strategy. According to Finch, Reese’s injuries are life threatening so they need to hurry. Finch does a little Google fu and finds the name of Quinn’s sleazy defense attorney. They are a little late to the party though. The attorney’s been tortured. At first Fusco thinks it is Reese but they find security footage that shows the Russians showing up after Reese. So now they are racing against time and the Russians. Shaw makes the recommendation that they actually get Root involved.

We jump further back to 2005 to learn that Shaw was a doctor at one point. She apparently delivered the news that a man died while eating an energy bar. She’s technically brilliant but emotionless. She’s a sociopath. But we already knew that. The man she’s talking to says that she’ll never be a doctor. It took me a minute to see that the flashbacks are showing our core characters dealing with tough emotions. In the present, after a little arguing, Finch lets Root out. She immediately gets a call from the Machine. Fusco gets to bitch a little during the car ride with having to sit next to Root. She’s giving directions much like when she kidnapped Shaw earlier this season but it gets the job done. She really is creepy. Don’t get me wrong, I love Amy Acker, but Root is just weird. She gets them into the building opposite the one where Quinn is staying. She points out the twelve guards on duty and notes that Reese is on the premises. Fusco asks how she’s sure and then a car explodes to draw the guards’ attention.

In 2007, it appears that Reese is reenlisting to be a sniper/black ops guy and he’s kind of quiet and submissive. But then he reveals that he’s been in this position before and he’s under orders out who is leaking names to the Chinese. The doctor he’s talking to is the culprit and Reese offs him without so much as a blink. The way this scene was shot was rather haunting. For much of the scene, you could only see parts of Reese’s face and it made him look dead. It was an apt comparison for how he no doubt feels in the present as he tries to avenge Carter’s death. In the present he’s getting worse, all covered in blood and really not looking so good. But he’s got enough energy to take out numerous armed men and get to Quinn. He demands that Quinn give him Simmons’ location. He doesn’t use death as a threat. He promises to kill Quinn regardless of if he coughs up the intel. The rest of the team is running out of time. They know that Reese is dying and so Finch heads up (once Root and Fusco clear the way) and ultimately stop Reese from killing Quinn. Shaw is pissed that they’re focusing on getting Reese medical attention and letting Simmons go since they have the location. But Fusco stayed behind to make sure the Feds got their hands on Quinn and he picks up the paper with the location. So one of our heroes is still in play.

We jump back to 2005 to see Lionel seeing the department shrink after a shooting. He first says it was a good shooting but when he learns that the session is confidential, he admits that he killed the guy for shooting a rookie the year before. In the present, he encounters Simmons at an airstrip and beats the crap out of him before arresting him. He refuses to let Simmons undo all the good Carter did in his life. Reese is going to pull through and it seems that Root is going to stick around for whatever big fight they have ahead of them. And in the hospital, Simmons gets a visit from Elias. He takes it personally that Simmons killed Carter so now he’s going to “fix” the problem and has Simmons killed. I have to say I think this was a very interesting way to approach losing a member of the team and seeing how everyone handled it. I’m excited to see where the show goes now. Oh and I’m so thrilled that HR is officially done. It was an interesting storyline in the beginning but they really dragged it on too long.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Trophy Wife 1.08: "Lice and Beary White"

“I had to cuddle a Transformer, and when I woke up, it was a car.”

“Lice and Beary White,” as you can probably tell from the title, deals with the worst nightmare of any family with children, especially a big, extended family like the Harrisons. Lice. I remember when I was a kid, once or twice a year the letter would go out to parents about somebody in the class having lice. I never had it myself, but I remember having to get checked at the nurse’s office every time an outbreak happened, and I remember being told that under no circumstances should I ever share a hairbrush. Anyway, the lice situation returns us to examining the Kate and Diane dynamic, with Jackie playing more of a supporting role. Interestingly, because the lice affect the whole family, the whole family is in one place in this one (albeit there are is still an A and B plot. The episode overall wasn’t bad by any means, but I didn’t find it to be a stand-out, either. I’d like to see Kate try to take on more parenting situations head-on instead of always being thwarted by Diane. I’d also like to know more about Kate’s past, considering in this episode, Diane makes a crack about Kate never having had a job.

The episode begins with Kate getting that dreaded call from school saying that Bert has lice. Kate picks him up from school, and they head straight for the drug store. For some reason, Kate thinks that having lice is one of the most embarrassing reasons you can go to a drug store. She tries to deflect attention away from purchasing the lice shampoo and comb by also saying she needs condoms and stool softener. Kate thinks she has things well under control, and she’s pretty proud of herself for it, but then Diane breezes in and steals all her thunder. She starts quoting lice eradication instructions and does all the hair washing herself. Kate tries to interject that she has the lice checklist from the school, but Diane quickly one-ups her by saying that she wrote the list.

Meanwhile, as the family is gathering up all the soft items that could harbor lice, Pete makes an interesting discovery. He finds a teddy bear in Warren’s bed. The bear is named Beary White, and he was Warren’s favorite toy as a child. The reason this is a surprise is because Warren had given the bear to Bert. Apparently there was a big hand-off ceremony and everything. Anyway, Pete confronts Warren about this, and Warren explains that he stole the toy back from Bert. Beary White was Warren’s comfort object, and he just couldn’t quite get along without it. I get it – a plastic Transformer toy (see the quote of the episode above) just isn’t a substitute for a nice, soft Teddy bear. Pete, being a lawyer, decides that a trial is the way to handle this situation. He tries to channel King Solomon, threatening to cut the bear in half. When neither of the boys seem to really care if Pete mutilates their prized toy, Pete gives up. What he taught them hasn’t gone unnoticed, though. Warren and Bert essentially work out a custody agreement for the bear all on their own. Whether this is because Pete is an intelligent lawyer or because he’s had three wives and the kids have lived through the divorces, I’m not exactly sure.

Anyway, the whole lice situation results in a big power struggle between Diane, Kate, and Jackie. Kate is tired of Diane swooping in and taking over her house, and she starts pushing back against Diane running the whole anti-lice campaign. Kate thinks she can do more, and Diane giving her more demeaning tasks like making a cappuccino (something she coos over Bert for doing perfectly) doesn’t help. The next task Kate is assigned is to bring Jackie into the house. Jackie had been yelling at everyone from outside. She just got a really expensive Brazilian blow-out, her hair has never looked better, and she doesn’t want to ruin it by washing it so soon. Diane’s not having any of that, though. She’s convinced that Jackie is probably infested, too, and expensive blow-out or not, the infestation must be conquered. Kate tries to do the job by going outside and talking to Jackie and playing to their mutual hatred of Diane. Before Kate has a chance to make any progress, though, Diane comes outside and turns the hose on Jackie, complaining that she always has to do everything herself.

At this point, both Kate and Jackie are pretty pissed off at Diane, so Kate hatches a revenge plan, and Jackie goes along with it. They switch out some of the bottle of lice shampoo for regular shampoo, making it less effective. They believe that Diane is the only person left in the family who hasn’t washed her hair, and they want her to be a little uncomfortable for a while. The plan backfires, however, when, after the switch has already happened, Diane mentions that she just washed Hillary’s hair. Kate and Jackie had been planning for Diane to be the only one affected by their little scheme. The problem is pretty significant, because Hillary has already gone back to school for an after-school musical rehearsal. Something tells me that wouldn’t be allowed in real life, but television shows bending the truth for the sake of plot is really nothing new.

Because Hillary is back at school, Kate feels obligated to reveal to Diane what she did. Jackie tries to distance herself from it as much as possible, of course. As per usual, Diane is very unhappy about all of this, and Diane and Kate squabble over who is going to make it right. Kate feels that since she screwed up, she should be the one to pick up Hillary from school. Diane feels like if she doesn’t pick up Hillary herself, something will go wrong. They both fight their way to the car, and they both end up going to the school together. When they get to the auditorium, they see that the kids are rehearsing for a production of “Hair,” and everybody is sharing wigs. Kate thinks the best course of action is to leave, and when the school lice infestation gets worse, they can blame it on some other kid. Diane, for once, completely agrees.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Sleepy Hollow 1.09: "Sanctuary"

“I know who you serve. I know why you came here. You think you can go after the ones I love without consequence? My wife? My son?”
- Ichabod

This week begins with a young billionaire, Lena Gilbert heading off to her ancestral home that she’s only recently acquired legal title to. She wants to fix the place up and her body guard is skeptical about going into the house because it looks haunted (dude’s right). They go in anyway and things get creepy. Her guard disappears and Lena’s arm gets caught in some roots. Back at the precinct, Ichabod is scoffing at fast food and his general grumpiness about the holiday spirit since he is separated from Katrina. Just as Abbie suggest he take a night off, Irving hands them Lena’s case. Apparently there may be a connection to Katrina in the house. After a little google fu, Ichabod realizes that Lena is descended from Lachlan Fredericks, a man who worked in railroad and whose estate was a safe haven for freed slaves following the war for Independence. No sooner do Abbie and Ichabod find Lena’s guard’s body, then the house locks them in quite literally. Damn, that place is haunted!

As they explore the house more, Abbie really starts to freak out. She was never a fan of haunted houses and I don’t blame her. This episode is really creepy! She seems a woman that Ichabod doesn’t. But that’s not all. They find a copy of Katrina’s favorite book with a letter he penned her the day he faced the Horseman. So she must have been at the house shortly after he was buried. And we jump back to see he and Katrina being entertained at the manor and he recounts that their hosts talked of evil. It seems whatever they were trying to keep at bay, got in. He and Abbie finally find Lean in the closet being squished by the roots and Ichabod makes the mistake of cutting some of them. This triggers some Ent looking demon outside the house to come alive and start moving towards the house. Oops.

Ichabod manages to free Lena and she explains that she bought the place because it was always a family mystery. In her research she found Katrina’s name in a registry as one of the last people to see sanctuary on the property before it was abandoned. Ichabod surmises that Lachlan was likely a member of Katrina’s coven and that something evil managed to break through his protective defenses. In typical horror fashion, the monster shows up and starts to chase them and Abbie gets separated. Ichabod and Lena get into a room and he thinks Abbie is right behind him but he pulls the monster through. Some part of this house kind of remind me of the house Abbie was in a few episodes back when Katrina first appeared to her.

In the side plot, since the episode is airing the week of Thanksgiving, involves Jenny and Irving. She shows up (after he called her a week earlier) to return some guns she stole from him. She ends up inviting him to Thanksgiving at her place (along with Abbie and Ichabod) if he doesn’t have any other plans. This little amusing moment is interrupted by his estranged wife and daughter. His ex gives him an ultimatum; he either steps it up as a father or she files for full custody. While he’s getting a dressing down about shirking responsibility (I’m guessing for some kind of accident that made his daughter wheelchair bound), his daughter gets some friendly advice from Jenny. She needs to give her dad a chance.

Back at the house, Abbie finds herself following the ghost of the Black matron of the manor. At first it’s just kind of creepy but then we get into full on flashback mode where Abbie can actually see what’s happening and we find Katrina giving birth to a son. I wondered when we’d learn that she had a child (especially since we saw the pram in Abbie’s last Katrina-vision). I hope Abbie gets to confront Ichabod about this by episode’s end. Turns out we didn’t have to wait long. Abbie and Ichabod reunite and she shares what she saw in her vision. Ichabod was flabbergasted that Katrina was even pregnant. Honestly, I know he was off being a war hero and all but I’m pretty sure even back then it was fairly obvious when a woman was pregnant. Anyway, the vision didn’t stop there. The protection spell broke as soon as the boy was born and a creature sent by Moloch beat the spell by growing inside the grounds. Lachlan tried to stall its progress but it gutted him rather violently. And that’s all Abbie saw. I hope the next time Ichabod gets to visit Katrina, he gets some answers. I really do hope his son survived and there’s a way to somehow find his descendants.

Our Witnesses find Lena again in the basement and while Abbie gets them out of the house thanks to the ghost of the matron (and it looks like Katrina and baby Crane got out safe0, Ichabod goes back in with some flares and an ax and hacks the hell out of the beastie until he comes out blood soaked requesting to go home. The next day, Abbie stops by and offers up some rum, burnt turkey and pumpkin pie but Ichabod doesn’t think he’s up for it. He’s in a rather morose mood. They settle in though with some rum as they look through a box of stuff that Lean sent them. It has to do with the manor and the various people that inhabited it. Ichabod comes across a family tree of the Matron and it seems his and Abbie’s paths were destined to cross before she was even born. She is a direct descendant of the Matron. Pretty cool. Now we can look forward to the hunt for baby Crane in two weeks. I have to say I’m quite excited to see where the show goes.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Mindy Project 2.08: "You've Got Sext"

“You do not make pancakes for someone who is just a hookup. I’ve been told this by, like, ten guys.”

“You’ve got Sext,” as per usual, focused on Mindy’s love life. Presumably, the episode took its title inspiration from the 90’s Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan classic, “You’ve Got Mail.” Interestingly, both the A and B plots focused on it, but in different ways. Mindy loses her purse and cell phone, and she and Danny kind of dance around their unresolved sexual tension while Morgan and Peter, who find Mindy’s phone, try to help her flirt via text with Danny’s lawyer friend Cliff. The whole thing is a big romantic mess where nobody is really happy at the end. But the process to get to that rather frustrating ending definitely has its share of funny moments. I also appreciate that Danny at least has realized his feelings for Mindy, even if Mindy isn’t quite there yet. She’s got the whole texting mess to sort out, so realizing what Danny’s going through isn’t exactly on her radar just yet.

The episode opens with Mindy, Morgan, Cliff, and Cliff’s date for the evening. Cliff’s date is the runner-up for Miss Universe, so obviously Mindy’s feeling a little inadequate. Mindy and Danny end up walking out of the office together, and Mindy realizes she forgot her purse and cell phone. I don’t quite understand why she can’t just go to the hospital and pick it up (maybe she thinks it’s in the lost and found, which would be closed at night?), but she says she needs to spend the night at Danny’s apartment. Mindy makes a comment about having a crush on somebody at the office, and Danny becomes uncomfortable, thinking she’s talking about him. He’s nothing if not a gentleman, though, so he still lets her stay at his apartment.

Meanwhile, Morgan and Peter have found Mindy’s purse in the break room. They take a quick rifle through it before starting to feel guilty. Just as Morgan and Peter are about to leave the purse be, Mindy gets a text. It’s from Cliff, and he wants to know how the delivery Mindy told him about went. Morgan tells Peter about how he thinks Mindy and Cliff have chemistry, and the two of them cook up a plan to maybe get them together. They’re going all Cyrano, and they’re going to text with Cliff. The conversation starts out innocently enough, talking about work, but from the tone and the fact that the conversation is happening at all, Morgan and Peter deduce that Cliff is indeed into Mindy as much as she is into him. This means that it quickly devolves into borderline sexting, complete with the cliché “what are you wearing?” This was funny, but it also made me go into full embarrassment squick mode. If somebody did this with my phone, I would be mortified beyond belief. Which maybe says more about me than it does about this episode.

Anyway, in the lobby of Danny’s apartment building, Danny and Mindy run into Danny’s neighbor. Danny says he hooked up with the neighbor a couple times, but she’s kind of a crazy stalker. Mindy pretends to be Danny’s fiancée to try and get the neighbor to back off. Mindy of course takes this way too far and even tells the neighbor that she’s pregnant. It does get the neighbor to go away for a little while, although it doesn’t stick. Up in Danny’s apartment, Mindy and Danny squabble a little over who is going to sleep on the couch and who is going to sleep in the bed. Mindy wanders into Danny’s room while he’s watching the nature channel and innocently climbs into bed with him. When he turns to a creature feature and Mindy gets scared, Danny thinks it’s time for them to have a talk. He’s really concerned that she’s crushing on him. Unfortunately, the creepy stalker neighbor is sitting on the living room couch, and she kind of breaks up the party.

Speaking of parties, when Cliff texts “Mindy” that he’s coming over to his apartment, Morgan and Peter panic. They need to have a reason for Mindy to be hard to find, so they go into her apartment (presumably her keys were in her purse) and throw a “Veteran’s Day” party. They tell Cliff that Mindy is on a “salsa run,” then they tell him she’s in the bathroom. Cliff is just getting fed up, wondering where Mindy is and thinking that maybe she’s not really into him after all. Meanwhile, Mindy’s annoying neighbor Heather drops by the party, and she starts chatting Cliff up like there’s no tomorrow. When Cliff goes into the bathroom and sees that Mindy isn’t actually there, Peter and Morgan have to own up to being the texters. Cliff asks them to erase all the texts from Mindy’s phone, and he and Heather leave the party together.

Crazy neighbor lady starts telling Mindy about how she and Danny were having a lot of sex during much of the time that Mindy and Danny were “engaged.” She also mentions that Danny would make pancakes for her on a pretty regular basis. At that, Mindy starts having a bit more sympathy. As she later tells Danny, you don’t make pancakes for somebody who is just a random hookup. That implies that you want them to stick around for a while. Anyway, when Danny slips and calls Mindy by her real name instead of “Chloe” (her cover identity), they have to step up their game, and they get all snuggly in front of the neighbor. That’s when the neighbor backs off. She says she never saw Danny look at her the way he’s now looking at “Chloe.” That’s when Danny realizes he might just have feelings for Mindy after all.

Danny and Mindy go to sleep on the couch and bed respectively, and in the morning, Danny makes pancakes, which should be a big old sign to Mindy that’s something’s going on. But she’s oblivious. She’s so oblivious that she mentions to Danny that the person she has a crush on is Cliff. Danny tries to let this roll off his back, but it’s pretty obvious that he’s said Mindy doesn’t have the feelings for him that he thought she did. Mindy goes to the hospital and is happy to see her purse waiting there for her. Then things start to get weird. She gets a chipper voicemail from Heather thanking her for throwing the party that allowed her to meet Cliff. Then she sees all the texting between Cliff and “Mindy.” Obviously Morgan didn’t delete them like he was supposed to.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Doctor Who 50th Anniversary: "The Day of the Doctor"

“I have a new destination. My journey is the same as yours, the same as anyone’s. It’s taken me so many years, so many lifetimes. At last I know where I’m going. Where I’ve always been going. Home. The long way around.”
– The Eleventh Doctor

A Brief Synopsis

Trying to sum up Steven Moffat’s typically dense plotting in a few paragraphs is quite the challenge! Let’s see how we do. The Eleventh Doctor and Clara are in the present day, and they get dragged (literally...a helicopter picks up the TARDIS) to the National Gallery, where they are met by Kate Stewart of UNIT. There’s some strange stuff going on with the paintings there, and a piece of Time Lord art depicting the fall of a Gallifreyan city has materialized. This leads to some flashbacks to the Time War, where we meet John Hurt, aka the War Doctor. He’s going to try and use “The Moment,” a superpowered weapon with a conscience, to destroy the Daleks and the Time Lords. The Moment’s conscience takes the form of Rose Tyler (but as Bad Wolf), whom the War Doctor doesn’t know, obviously. In her bid to keep him from using the weapon, she decides to show him what he will become. So she opens up time fissures into his future.

In Elizabethan England, the Tenth Doctor is romancing Queen Elizabeth I, or so we’re led to believe. He’s really chasing after Zygons (big red aliens with suckers everywhere). They are a Classic Era villain that can take the shape of other people. In short order, Ten finds a fez and is joined by Eleven. Honestly, seeing Matt and David riffing as different version of the Doctor was brilliant. They don’t quite get on at first, and then things get all wibbly-wobbly when the War Doctor shows up. They are apprehended by the Queen’s guards and locked in the Tower of London. Back in the present, Kate and Clara head to UNIT HQ and Clara nabs a vortex manipulator (bequeathed by one Captain Jack Harkness). She arrives in 1562 to rescue the Doctors (yes all three of them) and we get an important bit of Zygon technology They have a device that can put you in stasis and awaken centuries later. Handy when you can’t actually land the TARDIS in the Tower.

Clara and the Doctors get back to London this way, where the Tenth and Eleventh Doctors use a bit of the “Veil of Ignorance” philosophy to stop a conflict between the Humans and the Zygons. Once that’s quickly wrapped up, they return to Galifrey at the moment the War Doctor is about to destroy his people and the Daleks. The three of them working together is a sight to behold, and they deduce another way to stop the war and save the Time Lords. It takes all of the Doctor’s regenerations (past, present and near future) to freeze Galifrey and plop it in a pocket universe. The War Doctor and Ten go their separate ways, knowing they’ll have no memory of the experience, as Eleven realizes that the plan to save Galifrey worked (the painting that started all the drama is called “Galifrey Falls No More”) and he has a new mission: find his planet.

Our Impression

Overall, we really thoroughly enjoyed “The Day of the Doctor.” It told a fun story, gave us great banter between David Tennant and Matt Smith, and it had heart in the way it explored the War Doctor’s feelings about what he thought he needed to do and the Eleventh Doctor’s feelings about where he should go next with his life. The special also paid great respect to the history of the series. It was chock full of references to the past, most of which we’ll get to in more detail in just a minute. This was really a special designed to please the fans. Between the nostalgic references to the past, appearances by David Tennant, Billie Piper, and the great Tom Baker, and a brief glimpse of Peter Capaldi as the soon-to-be Twelfth Doctor, the special, especially in the last half-hour or so, just had one shocking, wonderful surprise reveal after another.

Of course, the episode did suffer slightly from Steven Moffat’s trademark overplotting and use of the big red reset button. It was kind of the ultimate reset button, really, as the element that has really driven Modern Who, compared to the Classic Era, was the idea that the Doctor was the Last of the Time Lords and had destroyed his own people. Now that is no longer the case. Also, we’re left with questions, as always. For instance, how did the War Doctor, Ten, or Eleven, get the word out to One through Nine and Twelve that they needed to converge on Gallifrey?

The real heart of the story was the Time War and what the War Doctor was about to do. We think the whole thing might have packed even more of an emotional punch if the material filmed for “The Night of the Doctor” had actually been the cold open to the special (and it would have added another former Doctor to the mix!). To make room for that, some of the Zygon plot could have been cut. While the shapeshifter nature of the Zygons fit in thematically with a story featuring several incarnations of the same being, there just wasn’t as much substance to that section of the plot. All that being said, however, the fun moments and respect for the show’s history outweighed any frustration at overplotting.

The Music

If you follow Doctor Who at all, you know that the music is very distinctive. The theme song has changed over the years as was evidenced by not only the opening credits but the closing as well. Most notably in the Modern Era, certain characters and scenarios have had their own themes thanks to series composer Murray Gold. For instance, we were first introduced to Rose’s theme during series 1. It sticks out most when she became Bad Wolf in “Parting of the Ways” and destroyed the Daleks and it surfaced twice during the special. We also got a couple other themes throughout the episode which were more directly tied to the Doctors. For instance, when Ten first appeared romancing Queen Elizabeth, we heard snippets of his old theme in a more Renaissance style. Weaving in these little motifs in the musical score was just another way to honor the expansive musical history associated with the show.


While “The Day of the Doctor” may not have had quite as many new appearances by previous Who actors as some fans might have preferred, the creative team did an admirable job honoring the show’s past. Right from the beginning, the special opened with the classic opening titles from 1963, and the first shot was of a sign reading “76 Totters Lane,” where it all began 50 years ago. Clara also has new job as a teacher at the school that the Doctor’s granddaughter, Susan, once attended. It was a nice homage to the Doctor’s first non-family companions, Susan’s teachers named Ian and Barbara. Also, when the Doctors and crew are in the Black Vault, deep in UNIT headquarters, there’s a sort of conspiracy wall with photos of old companions. Clara stares pointedly at a photo of Susan at one point.

All of the incarnations of the Doctor had a part to play in the resolution of the plot. In the climax of the special, where the Doctors are positioning themselves to save Gallifrey, we get good, extended shots of Ten and Eleven in their TARDISes, of course (oh how we miss Nine and Ten’s old coral TARDIS!), but there are also quick shots of many other Doctors through the use of archival footage. It’s rather lovely and triumphant to see them all come together for this common cause. Of course the very best nod to the show’s history, one of those moments that really made fans scream with delight, was near the very end of the episode. The Eleventh Doctor is told that the curator of the National Gallery wants to see him. And that curator is none other than Tom Baker, who portrayed the Fourth Doctor, arguably the most iconic of all the Doctors.

Looking Ahead

The major resolution of the episode included freezing Gallifrey in a moment of time and transporting it to a pocket parallel universe. Not only does this change the Doctor’s history (even if he doesn’t remember it), it gives us a new storyline to look forward to. Now, we know that the Christmas special this year is likely to focus on Trenzalore and the fall of the Eleventh , so that means the Twelfth Doctor will need something new to focus on. He now is no longer alone in the universe. The Time Lords are out there somewhere, and he has a new mission: find his people and go home. It seems a fitting big arc to explore with the new regeneration, especially since we got our first look at Twelve as Gallifrey was being frozen. As the Doctors gather, a Council member mentions that thirteen Doctors have appeared. At that moment, we see a close-up of Peter Capaldi’s piercing stare, and the fandom went into full meltdown.

Speaking of future regenerations, we are rapidly approaching the 13-regeneration barrier established in the Classic Era. There is no doubt that Moffat will keep the show running as long as possible, so we will have to transition beyond the Thirteenth Doctor at some point. There has been some precedent set in the Classic Era when the Master was given additional regenerations by the Time Lord Council. Another theory arises out of the Modern Era when newly minted River Song saved the Doctor during “Let’s Kill Hitler” by giving him her remaining regenerations (somewhere between 10-11 of them depending on how you count her being born as Melody Pond). So that would give the creative team far more to work with and it would be plausible in canon. Here’s to another 50 years!

New Girl 3.08: "Menus"

“Jess, this feels like a something else is going on type of thing. Are you okay to drive? You’ve got crazy eyes!”

The thing that really ties together “Menus” as an episode of “New Girl” is the concept of self-doubt. Jess is frustrated at work because a tight budget means her principal shoots down all her ideas. Nick has to confront the all-important question of whether he’s a “doer or a dumplinger” when Coach offers to train him. Coach has to confront an identity crisis when Nick becomes the first person he doesn’t successfully motivate to exercise. Schmidt deals with the conflict between wanting his own space and wanting to be part of his friends’ lives. Winston, as per usual, just keeps getting hurt a lot. I found this, even with its focus on Jess and Nick, to be a return to the types of stories “New Girl” told in its earlier days. Those feelings of self-doubt are a huge part of being in your early 30s, as you’re supposed to be an “adult” and you’re realizing that actually getting there may be even harder than you originally thought.

A surprising amount of the plot of this episode centers around a local Chinese restaurant called Hop Foo. As all good apartment dwellers know, local Chinese and pizza places do love to slip menus under apartment doors. Actually, now that I live in an apartment that limits access to the front door of the building, it’s not so bad, but I’ve certainly collected plenty of under the door menus in my day. Nick sees a menu for Hop Foo, and he decides some Chinese food would make for a good brunch. Jess thinks Nick’s grossness is kind of endearing, but Coach isn’t having it. He wants Nick to avoid the “boyfriend fifteen” that quickly turns into the “boyfriend twenty” and beyond. He offers to help train Nick, and Nick reluctantly agrees. He doesn’t want to quite give up all his Chinese food, though, which will prove to be problematic for the whole getting in shape thing.

Meanwhile, Jess has a big day planned at school. She’s going to ask Principal Foster if she can do an “ocean conservation day” field trip to the beach with her class. Her school is in an underserved area, and many of the kids have never seen the ocean before, even though they live in Los Angeles. Jess has even gotten donations to cover most of the costs of the trip. The only thing that the school needs to cover is transportation costs. Principal Foster derisively tells Jess that transportation costs are the most expensive part of the whole thing, and he dismisses her idea outright. This puts Jess in a foul mood, and when she gets home to the loft, she takes it out on the nine (yes, nine) Hop Foo menus under the door. Nick rightly surmises that her anger at the menus is stemming from something else, but there’s not really much he can do to stop Jess’ rage.

Jess heads over to Hop Foo to give the management a piece of her mind. She talks to a guy named Brian whom she assumes is a waiter or something. Brian says that he too is appalled at the “eco disaster” that is the over-proliferation of restaurant menus, and he promises to talk to his manager about it. He also talks about all the composting that he does, and he also says he thinks Jess is hot. Jess doesn’t quite know how to take all this flattery, and she leaves the restaurant kind of in a daze. She is furious later when she sees the Hop Foo van continuing to distribute menus, and Brian is in it. It turns out that he is the owner of the restaurant, and he has absolutely no intention of ending the menu distribution.

Meanwhile, Coach starts his first workout with Nick. He really just wants to get Nick warmed up to start out, so he turns on a pretty catchy EDM track, and they get started. What follows is a pretty funny dance bit involving Coach, Nick, and Schmidt (who hears the music from his new apartment across the hall). Schmidt dances his heart out for about 30 seconds before getting sad that he can’t be right in the middle of the action. This is a running theme for Schmidt throughout the episode. He keeps wanting to be part of what’s going on with his friends in the loft, but he also wants to make a point about having his own space now. At one point, the rest of the gang discovers that Schmidt has left a nanny cam in the loft so he can continue to know what’s going on. Stage 5 clinger, anybody?

Nick’s motivation to work out doesn’t last very long, and when he has Cece bring over more Chinese food (and when he eats it right in the middle of the workout), that is the final straw for Coach. Coach is convinced that he’s a failure, and he decides he shouldn’t be a trainer anymore. Unfortunately, Winston is allergic to MSG, and there’s MSG in the Chinese food despite the menu clearly stating “no MSG.” It makes Winston’s jaw lock up. I have MSG sensitivity, and this is nothing like what really happens. If I have food with especially high MSG, I get very lightheaded for about half an hour. It’s quite an odd feeling.

With Winston’s MSG reaction, Jess thinks she finally has her solution to the Hop Foo problem. She wheels Winston down to the restaurant to go and complain directly to Brian. She makes a big scene, but it doesn’t really do much good. Brian admits that Chinese food is pretty much “all MSG,” but the patrons don’t seem to care overly much. To make a point, Brian fires the menu delivery guy. This leads to an all-out pity party for the whole gang on the couch in the loft. Coach sits with a keyboard, and he tells the rest of the gang that making “island beats” is going to be his new job. Nick of all people is the one who gets everybody back on track with a sort-of motivational speech. He asks where they can rent a van to make Jess’ beach field trip happen, and Jess has an idea. The class rides to the beach in the Hop Foo van, and Jess once again believes that “anything is possible.”

Friday, November 22, 2013

Doctor Who Week 2013: "Dalek"

“Oh, and I caught you little signal. Help me! But no one’s coming because there’s no one left!”
- The Doctor

On the eve of the 50th Anniversary, it felt fitting to end our week-long celebration with a look back at the introduction of the Doctor’s worst enemy in the Modern Era. The Doctor and Rose are traveling about when the TARDIS picks up a distress call 53 floors underground in a Utah-based facility. They find themselves in what looks like a museum of sorts with all kinds of alien objects and body bits (including a Cyberman head). This turns out to be the stronghold of one Henry Von Statten, supposedly the guy who owns the internet. He’s got a thing for collecting and he’s got one live specimen which he’s quite proud of. He takes the Doctor to see it and the Doctor starts by freaking out and then gets rather rude and haughty. It’s a Dalek. It’s in chains and the weapon systems aren’t functional and so that’s why the Doctor feels he can be nasty too it, taunting it and dumping the revelation that no one’s coming to save it or give it purpose because all the Time Lords and Daleks are dead, thanks to the Last Great Time War. I picked this episode because from what we’ve seen in the previews, it ties in directly with a portion of the anniversary special. Given what we know (or suspect) about the character John Hurt is portraying, I think it’s safe to say we’ll get a solid glimpse into the final days of the war. Having seen “The Night of the Doctor” prequel mini-episode, I can see flashes of a warrior come through in Nine’s demeanor. I feel like the first series of the Modern Era is really early days for Nine. It’s still so fresh and raw in him that it can’t have been that long ago that the Time War ended.

While the Doctor is off getting nostalgic with the Dalek, Rose is flirting with a genius guy. He patches them through to the video feed and sees that one of Von Statten’s men is torturing the Dalek. Naturally, Rose wants to help. And as if Von Statten wasn’t awful enough, he figures out the Doctor is the last of his race and starts doing tests so he can add the Doctor to his perverse collection. Rose gets some face time with the Dalek and it dupes her into feeling sorry for it. She touches it and it uses her time traveling DNA to regenerate itself to full power. And then the killing starts. Von Statten is probably one of the vilest non-alien villains we’ve seen on the show. He’s so self-important. He doesn’t want his “prize” to be harmed. The soldiers on his payroll are disposable according to him.

The Dalek chases Rose and her bodyguard and the cute Brit guy to a stairwell where it proves it can adapt and climbs the stairs. Bet they weren’t expecting that. After the Doctor explains to Von Statten that the Dalek will kill everyone it can find if it gets out of the facility, the sleaze offers to help by shutting down the bulkheads and sealing the vault. Unfortunately, Rose is still down there. The Doctor tries to hold off until the last second to give her time to get out but she’s too slow. He thinks he’s killed Rose and he’s absolutely torn up about it. Not only another casualty of the choices he made during the Time War but we see a lot of that guilt and anger come roaring to the forefront, especially when he yells at the Dalek to kill itself. He’s horrified when the Dalek remarks that the Doctor would make a good Dalek. I thought it was interesting to see the conflicting thoughts telegraphing on Nine’s face as this whole scenario played out. Sure he committed genocide against the Daleks but he also killed his own people. That has to be an enormous burden.

While Rose is still trapped, the Dalek begins to freak out. It can’t kill her because besides life she gave it emotions. Daleks are clearly void all emotion but anger and now it’s experiencing fear, specifically Rose’s at being killed. It sort of uses her as a human shield to get up to the main level of the facility and Rose begs it not to kill anyone else. Of all the people that have interacted with the Dalek, she’s the one who has shown it kindness and compassion. She didn’t know anything about it or the race it came from. I loved that about Rose, that she could be kind to even a pepper pot on wheels. The Dalek expresses its final desire; to be free.

Rose and the Doctor meet up again after the Dalek blasts a hole in the ceiling. It wants to feel sunlight and we first get to see the inner creature. It’s certainly not pretty to look at but just watching the little tentacles reaching towards the sunlight made me choke up a little. The Doctor is prepared to kill the Dalek but Rose won’t let it. Her defense is too little too late, though. The Dalek has mutated with her emotions and it can’t handle it. So she gives it the order to destroy itself. Rose admits that she’s scared as she back away from the Dalek. It’s scared, too. The Doctor seems a little melancholy about the whole thing as he realizes that he’s not the man who killed the Daleks. He’s the Doctor again. I just can’t wait to see what happens in tomorrow’s special. We’ve seen that the Doctor had no choice but to become what he did to end the war. I want to see what happens when he makes the decision to take up the mantle again and how he manages it. I’m not saying we’ll see a regeneration into Nine but I hope somehow, someday we learn how he reclaimed himself as the Doctor.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Doctor Who Week 2013: The Eleventh Doctor - Mad Man with a Box

“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 necessarily spoil the good things or make them unimportant.”
- The Doctor

Our lead-up to the 50th Anniversary wouldn’t be complete without looking back on the Time Lord’s current incarnation played by Matt Smith. While Jen and I took a while to warm up to the Eleventh Doctor, he has certainly had a fascinating journey thus far which will continue in Saturday’s special and conclude in this year’s Christmas special.

The Oncoming Storm

We first meet Eleven as the TARDIS is crashing to Earth. He has a much more comedic touch to his portrayal of the character than his predecessors. One of the best scenes in his run (in my opinion) is when he first meets young Amelia Pond and he demands she give him various foods as he adjusts to his new body and taste buds. This definitely cements his character as being somewhat childlike and goofy. Tossing out the yogurt and apples to make way for fish fingers and custard is absolutely hilarious. He’s also terrible with timing as evidenced by the fact he pops to get the TARDIS engines working with Amelia waiting in the yard an comes back over a decade later to find she’s all grown up.

Despite this sort of goofy side, the Doctor can also be somewhat dark. As the series progress and Eleven marches ever closer to Trenzalore and his inevitable regeneration, some of that fire and anger that we saw running under the surface with the Tenth Doctor comes through. I think we see the goofiness slip away more in series 7, leading to Amy and Rory’s departure. Part of me wonders if this darkness has filled the Doctor up because he’s been traveling alone for a while, which is never a good idea for him.

Come along, Ponds!

Aside from the back half of series 7, the Doctor traveled with two companions, Amy Pond and Rory Williams. This is a first for any of the Doctor’s incarnations because from about episode4 or 5 onwards, he’s traveling with a couple. Sure he’s had multiple companions at a time but this is the first time he’s traveled with a proper romantic couple. They establish very early on that Amy is not interested romantically in the Doctor. I am actually quite happy about that because we had enough of that with Rose and Martha. I also liked that we saw just how deeply devoted to each other Rory and Amy were, especially when he waited two thousand years for her to emerge from the Pandorica.

Along with the Doctor, we witness Amy and Rory get married and anticipate starting a family. We also see the Doctor’s travels take an eventual toll on the Ponds. The Doctor pops in and out of their lives that they never really get to live normal lives. And when they are getting divorced at the start of series 7, the Doctor makes it his mission to fix them because they’re the Ponds and are supposed to be together.

Where You Need to Go

Admittedly, I have not really seen much of the Classic Era so I’m not sure how deeply they went into the TARDIS mythology back then but in series 6, we got the Neil Gaiman penned “The Doctor’s Wife” which examined the Doctor’s relationship with his time traveling police box. The essence of the TARDIS is put into a woman’s body and the Doctor gets to speak to her for the first time and she can speak back. It was a really unique episode and it allowed the TARDIS to really become its own character on the show (not that it wasn’t already).

Quite interestingly, the TARDIS explains that she doesn’t take the Doctor where he wants to go, but where he needs to go. And she says that the day he ran off with her from Galifrey, she chose him not the other way around. I thought this was a fantastic twist on the origins of the Doctor’s travels in his zany time machine. Knowing that the Doctor may not always end up where he was intending but where he’s needed I think shows a deeper connection between alien and machine.

Hello Sweetie

One of the most memorable portions of the Eleventh Doctor’s run has been his relationship with River Song. If you’ve been around the blog much, you know I am a big fan of the Doctor/River relationship. While we first meet her during Ten’s run in “Silence in the Library”/”Forest of the Dead”, she plays more prominently in his successor’s era. As the Eleventh Doctor’s journey progresses from series 5 to 7, his relationship with River evolves and deepens. I will say in the early days I was slightly annoyed that she was smarter than him, since they are traveling in roughly opposite directions in their timelines. But she quickly became one of my favorite characters to see pop up from time to time. I believe some of my initial annoyance is also attributed to the fact that Eleven lost that “smartest man in the room” quality. Even from her first meeting with Ten in the Library, I was intrigued to know what her relationship with the Doctor entailed.

Some viewers may have been upset (and I admit at first I was one of them) when it was revealed that River Song was none other than Melody Pond, Amy and Rory’s daughter. That brought a whole new level of awkwardness to the Doctor’s relationship with his companions, especially when the Doctor and River tied the knot in an alternate universe. I like to think that even though we’ve likely seen the last of River, given the goodbye she and the Doctor share at the end of “The Name of the Doctor”, she was an essential part of this incarnation. He could always count on her to back him up and their banter was always amusing. Another of my favorite scenes was in “Day of the Moon” when they are fighting the Silence back to back with a sonic screwdriver and space gun while flirting. It’s hilarious and so defines their relationship.


Here are a couple links about the Eleventh Doctor to tide you over until Saturday.

Here’s BBC America’s Eleventh Doctor page:

And here’s Matt admitting he’d prefer a different companion:

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Doctor Who Week 2013: "The Lodger"

“I'm the Doctor. Well, they call me the Doctor. I don't know why. I call me the Doctor, too. I still don't know why.”
-The Doctor

We continue Doctor Who Week, celebrating the 50th Anniversary of “Doctor Who,” with the episode that first made me like the Eleventh Doctor. Eleven is obviously going to be a big part of the anniversary special, since he’s the current Doctor, so it seemed appropriate to include one of his episodes in the festivities. This was the “companion light” episode of series five, back when all episodes of a series would air in one go. Companion and/or Doctor lite episodes would allow the production crew to catch up on filming days late in the production schedule. Some of these episodes were all time classics, like the fantastic “Blink.” The only episode of this nature that really wasn’t any good at all was “Love and Monsters” in series 2. I think the reason I liked the Eleventh Doctor so much in this episode was because it was the first chance he had to be really goofy. It’s an episode that showcases just how alien the Doctor truly is, a characteristic that is more pronounced in Eleven than many of his other incarnations.

This story was loosely based on a Tenth Doctor and Rose comic strip of the same name, where Ten lives normal life in Mickey Smith’s apartment for a bit while waiting for Rose to catch up to him in the TARDIS. A disturbance of some sort strands the Eleventh Doctor in a small village without the TARDIS or Amy (Amy is still inside the TARDIS). The disturbance is coming from a particular flat, and the Doctor conveniently arranges it so he can rent a room in the flat below the disturbance. His new flatmate is a man named Craig, played by Tony winner James Corden. Craig is a “sofa man,” perfectly content to stay put and live life without making a fuss. Craig has a good friend named Sophie. They’d both like to be more than friends, but they’re too scared to do anything about that for reasons that aren’t really articulated in the episode. I think it’s just general “oh what if it would ruin our friendship” stuff.

There is most definitely a sinister threat on the second floor of the Doctor and Craig’s building. It’s pretty vintage Steven Moffat stuff, really. A disembodied voice emanates from the building intercom and lures people into the upstairs flat. The disembodied voice can change to whatever is most likely to entice a passerby. It really reminds me of the gas mask kid in “Empty Child/The Doctor Dances” who goes around saying “Are you my mummy?” Anyway, when said passerby is lured in by the voice on the intercom, they then get fried. This creates a disturbance that causes trouble for the TARDIS (the Doctor has to shout instructions to Amy on how to calm the TARDIS down) and makes this really bad stain on the ceiling of Craig and the Doctors’ flat worse. The Doctor warns Craig not to touch the stain (of coruse Craig doesn’t listen, but more on that in a bit).

Anyway, the flatmate set-up gives the creative team ample opportunity to have fun with “How does the Doctor act in the real world” scenarios. Amy reminds the Doctor that he has to make an effort to act like a regular guy. In Amy’s estimation, regular guys watch television, go down the pub, and play soccer. So, naturally, the Doctor jumps at the chance when Craig asks him to play in a pub league soccer game. The Doctor doesn’t know if he can play soccer, but he’s naturally great at it, of course. I think this was my favorite part of the episode because Matt Smith had so much fun with it. He was an avid youth soccer player before a back injury quashed his aspirations of making a career of it, so all the footage of him owning the game is real. I thought it was cool that the creative team thought to include a real aspect of Matt’s life like that.

Eventually, Craig gets fed up with all the weirdness that comes with having the Doctor as your flatmate. There’s the contraption he built in his room to scan what’s going on in the upstairs flat, and then there’s the fact that he’s always showing up Craig in front of Sophie. Craig tries to kick the Doctor out, and the Doctor panics. The Doctor’s solution is to explain who he is to Craig in a very unusual way – he headbutts him repeatedly. Each headbutt somehow conveys more important information to Craig, such as who the Doctor is and what’s going on that has lead the Doctor to Craig’s flat. Craig accepts this explanation, I guess because it was downloaded directly into his brain.

The situation quickly gets more dire, because the latest person to be lured up to the upstairs flat is none other than Sophie. The Doctor and Craig rush upstairs to try and save her. Inside the upstairs flat is what looks like a TARDIS console. Somehow, an electric charge is drawing Sophie closer and closer to it. The Doctor manages to free Sophie using the Sonic, but the threat still remains. The Doctor figures out that the flat is actually an alien ship, and the ship’s emergency program is what has been luring people to it. The program is trying to find a pilot that can take the ship home, but the process burns out the brain of the average human. The emergency program quickly realizes that the Doctor has a different type of brain, and it thinks it has found the perfect pilot. Unfortunately, the Doctor’s brain is also a problem for the opposite reason – it would provide too much power to the ship.

The Doctor is being drawn closer and closer to the time engine console, but he thinks he has a solution to the problem. The ship needs to connect with someone who has no desire to go anywhere. And of course, that someone would be Craig. He tells Craig to connect with the ship and start thinking about all the reasons he wants to stay put. This has the dual result of Craig confessing his feelings for Sophie and defeating the emergency program (with an assist from Sophie, who also doesn’t want to go anywhere once she knows how Craig feels about her). The Doctor, Craig, and Sophie all have to hightail it out of the ship, as it’s about to take off. They stand outside and watch as it disappears.

With the ship gone, the TARDIS is once again okay, so Amy is no longer in danger. It’s time for the Doctor to go home himself. Plus, he gets the distinct feeling he’s a third wheel now that Craig and Sophie are spending all their time making out. Craig lets the Doctor keep his key to the flat as a thank you, even though he knows the Doctor probably won’t ever return. Finally, to connect this episode up with the season-long arc about the crack in Amy’s childhood bedroom wall, the crack appears again, and Amy also discovers the box with her engagement ring. Since her fiancé, Rory, was lost in the crack and she had forgotten him (and the Doctor didn’t do anything to help her remember), this probably won’t end well.

Person of Interest 3.09: "The Crossing"

“There was a time I thought about saying goodbye. I lost someone. I lost myself.”
“What changed your mind?”
“I got into a fight with some punks on a subway. A cop detained me. You changed my mind, Joss.”
- Reese and Carter

We are now in week 2 of November sweeps and the episode that touts “a hero will fall”. I have my theories on who the fallen warrior will turn out to be so we’ll see if I’m right. We pick up right where we left off with Carter and Reese escorting Quinn (head of HR) to FBI custody. Back at the judge’s place, Simmons shows up and shoots the judge, saying he’d turn state’s evidence if they didn’t silence him. And he sends a uniform off to find Carter and Quinn and bring them both back alive. Simmons thinks that setting every criminal and dirty cop after Reese will take care of the problem. Reese and Carter take the subway to get where they need to go while Shaw breaks into Fusco’s apartment (after he puts his son to bed. Speaking of, his kid got really big since the last time we saw him way back in season 1) so they can provide back up. So it seems all of our heroes are in play. And of course, Finch gets a bunch of new numbers which turn out to be tied to Reese’s former aliases. And just as Finch delivers the somewhat reassuring news that at least Elias and his boys will be sitting the manhunt out, a bunch of gang bangers come onto the train to confront Reese.

Not surprising, Reese takes them out and as they exit onto the platform, he mentions to Carter how it reminds him of their first meeting. I can see how that ties in and I like it! They need to transfer trains but all service has been suspended thanks to the cops hunting for Reese. Quinn manages to get Reese’s phone and smashes it so Finch loses contact. Shaw suggests he get Root to ask the Machine for Reese’s location but Finch is hesitant. Root offers to get him back unharmed if Finch lets her go but he’s not interested. He knows if he lets her loose, bad stuff will happen. Since the train is a no go, Reese and Carter commandeer an ambulance. Unfortunately, HR has a checkpoint at the Brooklyn Bridge (where Fusco is standing watch). Shaw’s at the train station and sees some shady Asian thugs looking about. The ambulance almost gets through the checkpoint unnoticed until Simmons spots a blood smear on the back door. A shootout ensues and with Fusco’s help, our guys get away. Not so lucky for Fusco who gets KO’d by Simmons and another cop. I really hope my theory is wrong about who dies. Not that the options are particularly vast at this point. And I wouldn’t be any happier with the other option I have in mind. But things really are not looking good for Lionel at this point.

Things are going to get very emotional very quickly. In typical Lionel fashion, he’s kind of a wise ass to Simmons and his goons. This earns him several punches to the face and some broken fingers. They demand to know what the key goes to and he finally gives up an address in New Jersey when Simmons brings up shooting his son. Meanwhile, Reese, Carter and Quinn duck into the city morgue and Reese silences Quinn with a sedative (he thinks). Then as HR learns of their location, Shaw leaves a cop with a live grenade as she tries to find Lionel’s location. As Reese takes stock of whatever weapons they can find, they start comparing battle scars. This leads to Reese pulling out a bullet from his pocket, kind of like a reminder. He admits he thought about committing suicide but a fight with some punks on a train and being detained by a certain detective stopped him. At this point I’m starting to really get teary-eyed because they share a kiss. It is sweet and tender and wonderful. It feels like the writers are really calling back to the pilot and the start of the Reese/Carter relationship. Very interesting indeed. The kiss is broken rather rudely by Finch announcing they’ve got company. The morgue is surrounded and so now Reese and Carter are going to have to fight their way out one way or another. Oh and Finch decides to go out at 4am (after Root taunts him about Reese being his creation and that she’s sorry for his loss preemptively).

The HR cops bust into the morgue and start searching every room and they cut the power. Reese tells Carter to check the supply closet for chemicals they might be able to use but when she comes back he’s gone and he’s left his bullet in the air duct. She catches him before he gets too far (she’s still barricaded in the room) and he tells her to get Quinn into FBI custody. He’ll draw the cops out because he can’t lose Carter. And she’s going to be furious with him forever if anything happens to him. I honestly did not see this whole turn in their relationship coming. It makes me excited and anxious since we still don’t know who is going to die. Things are not getting dangerous for Lionel since Simmons knows he lied about the bank. One of the HR goons has at Lionel’s house and Lionel gets to talk to his son before the guy kills him. We hear a shot go over the line and then Shaw comes on the other end. She figured that they would target his family and that Lionel would want her to be there to protect his son. But he realizes that means he’s on his own and that no one is coming to save him.

It turns out Lionel is pretty damn resourceful. Since they broke most of his fingers on his right hand, he broke his thumb and gets his hand free of the cuffs and ends up strangling the guy who was supposed to kill him. Elsewhere, Reese takes out most of the cops while Finch gets the power back on at the morgue which sounds alarms. Oh and he alerts the only two honest cops to Reese’s presence, figuring it might be safer to have him in custody rather than on a slab. Carter makes it to the federal building and Quinn is charged and the rest of HR’s cronies, minus Simmons, gets arrested. Carter has her old job back and she’s figured out how Finch gets the numbers. She promises to spring Reese from lock up as she gets a call from Lionel whose watching his son head off to school. Shaw climbs in the back seat and they banter a bit before he thanks her. Man, lots of emotional revelations this week. Everything seems like it’s going great.

Carter springs Reese from lock up after having a motif on their first conversation from the pilot and that’s when I realized my theory was wrong and this was worse than what I assumed. So much worse. They walk out of the precinct and Finch is across the street. He starts towards them and Simmons appears and starts shooting. Reese takes one in the arm and Carter gets hit twice. She gets off a few shots at Simmons but he gets away. And then, the saddest moment in the entire episode. Reese is begging Carter to hold on when she keeps telling him that she needs to know her son knows she loves him and she needs Reese to look in on him. And there in his arms, she takes her last breath as a payphone rings in stark contrast to the moment. He presses a kiss to her forehead as he breaks down. I was so hoping it wasn’t going to be Carter. I can see from a plot standpoint why it had to happen but they were just starting to explore things between them and we’ll never get to see where that goes. But now Reese is going to be out for blood.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Doctor Who Week 2013: The Tenth Doctor - Rude and Not Ginger

“People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but actually, from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint, it's more like a big ball of wibbly wobbly time-y wimey . . . stuff.”
-The Doctor

We here at MTVP are unabashed Tenth Doctor fans. I for one love the combination of wits and bravado. Ten is the smartest man in the room, knows it, and has fun with it. He delights in the unusual, even when it may not be appropriate. Ten is one of the all-time iconic Doctors, probably second only to Tom Baker’s Fourth Doctor. He is also (spoiler alert) going to be making an appearance in this Saturday’s 50th Anniversary Special. Ten and his first companion, Rose, are going to be helping Eleven and Clara solve some sort of big universe-in-jeopardy problem, and it’s likely to be a whole lot of fun. I also have to give Sarah some credit for helping me with the end of this post, as she has seen all of the post-series 4 specials, and I have not seen two of them (I'm a bad Tenth Doctor fan, I know)!

A Very Arthur Dent Beginning

The Tenth Doctor first appears at the very end of the series 1 finale, “The Parting of the Ways,” but his first proper appearance was in the subsequent Christmas special, “The Christmas Invasion.” The Doctor spends most of the episode in his pajamas, recovering from an especially rough regeneration, but when he is recovered, he joins the narrative with a vengeance. One of the great things about “The Christmas Invasion” is how it quickly establishes several of the Tenth Doctor’s essential characteristics. He will always give an enemy one chance to redeem him/herself, but there are no second chances. He says whatever is on his mind, to the point where he is sometimes rude. He takes responsibility for the universe’s safety, especially Earth’s, and because of that, he thinks he’s the highest authority on how certain big situations should be handled.

The last characteristic is most exemplified by his interaction with Harriet Jones (we know who she is!), who is Prime Minister during the events of “The Christmas Invasion.” The Doctor thinks he has dealt with the invading Sycorax by telling them to stay away from Earth, but Harriet does him one better and has the Sycorax ship completely destroyed. The Doctor doesn’t appreciate being overruled, even though Harriet has very good reasoning for doing so. She knows the Doctor isn’t going to always been around when there is trouble, and Earth has to be able to defend itself sometimes, too. The Doctor disagrees, though, and in retaliation, he ends her government by saying just six words to her assistant. “Don’t you think she looks tired?” It showed that while he has good intentions, the Tenth Doctor will sometimes be ruthless in trying to follow his personal moral code.

Children of Time

Although he collected quite the entourage of people who were willing to sacrifice anything for his cause, the Tenth Doctor had three major companions. First there was Rose, who got over the shock of Nine’s transformation into Ten pretty quickly. Rose and Ten really bonded, and there relationship was something more than just friendship. They giggled their way through time and space until a tragedy forced Rose to go to a parallel universe forever. There were romantic undertones to their relationship, although the Doctor never could quite bring himself to say “I love you.” I think he thought it wouldn’t be fair to Rose. He thought she should have someone in her life who would age as she would, and he gave her that by setting him up with “10.5” (see yesterday’s recap of Stolen Earth/Journey’s End).

Martha, the series 3 companion, was pretty much just a rebound. Lucky for her, she was probably the most put-together in her outside-the-TARDIS life of all Ten’s companions, so she did perfectly well for herself after leaving. She became a doctor and worked for UNIT. Donna, the third major companion, was pretty much the Doctor’s best friend. The Tenth Doctor and Donna were truly partners in crime, and it was a lot of fun to watch them. Catherine Tate, who plays Donna, is a well-respected comedienne, and her comedic chemistry with David Tennant was superb. The best example of this is in the series 4 premiere, “Partners in Crime.” The Tenth Doctor and Donna are separated by windows when they see each other for the first time since the series 3 Christmas special, “The Runaway Bride.” They mime a whole conversation with each other before being discovered by the baddies of the episode, and it is absolutely hilarious. Another interesting aspect of Donna was that although she didn’t think much of herself (she had been temping for a long time), her specific clerical skills come in handy quite often in her adventures with the Doctor.

Rage Against the Dying of the Light

While we have seen the Doctor be forgiving and willing to give other species a second chance, we learned that the Tenth Doctor was far more dangerous when not surrounded by his Children of Time. As Donna said in “The Runaway Bride,” he needs to be with someone to keep him in check. As Ten’s time in the TARDIS comes to an end, he’s traveling alone, and that rage and anger that bubbles up under the surface through his run is in full force during the “David Tennant Specials.” With no one to temper his Lonely God tendencies, the Tenth Doctor spirals into a dark place, wallowing in his solo status as the last Time Lord in existence. Perhaps it is some of what he felt while ending the Time War coming through. Besides, David Tennant was wonderful at portraying the Tenth Doctor’s range of emotions, from the goofy excited explorer to the vengeful god raining Hell down upon his enemies.

As we head for the 50th Anniversary, it seems clear we will witness the final days of the Time War, which is something that has been a thread through the modern era of “Doctor Who.” With the little breadcrumbs laid out, it will be exciting to see what happened that caused the Doctor such anguish. As all things go to hell in “Waters of Mars,” the Doctor angrily proclaims, “Yes, because there are laws. There are laws of time. And once upon a time there were people in charge of those rules. But they died. So you know who that leaves? Me! It’s taken me all these years to realize, the laws of time are mine! And they will obey me!” The anger and the fire that fueled the Tenth Doctor towards the end shows just how much the Time War really weighs on his conscience. But Ten makes one final trip back to Earth in “The End of Time” to save the planet he loves so much and give his life to save Wilf in the aftermath of the Master and the Time Lords trying to exert their own control. He doesn’t want to go, but he does anyway for the sake of his friends.


The Internet is replete with information on the Tenth Doctor, but here are a few choice bits to get you started...

Here is BBC America's Tenth Doctor page.

Here is a really nice guide to the Tenth Doctor courtesy of Nerdist.

Here's an amusing video of David Tennant "introducing" the 50th Anniversary special.

Here's a video of David feeling guilty about being disloyal to "his" TARDIS.

And to wrap things up, here's a fun guide to the Tenth Doctor's costume.

Sleepy Hollow 1.08: "Necromancer"

“Now, more than ever, we need Katrina.”
- Ichabod

Things are really kicking into high gear this week. Ichabod, Abbie and Irving have the Horseman locked in a cell under UV lights surrounded by a hex to keep him trapped. Ichabod wants to interrogate him and suggests he and Abbie go find Andy to use for information. They find his hidey hole underground and wait for him. After finding some Egyptian hieroglyphs, Ichabod deduces that Andy is the Horseman’s necromancer, he speaks for the dead. Andy admits it but says he can’t be trusted because he sold his soul to Moloch. It would appear Ichabod is willing to take that risk to get some answers. Elsewhere, Irving has Jenny brought in and they quickly respond to a robbery in progress at an antiques dealer where Jenny used to work. They find the owner with a gunshot wound and missing artifact that is used to break hex spells. So it would seem our heroes are going to have some Hessian visitors shortly. Oh and Abbie teaches Ichabod the first bump. It’s adorable.

Abbie and Ichabod tie up Andy (well more like they duct tape him to a chair) and he invites the Horseman to let him be his voice. The Horseman says nothing at first until Ichabod begins to goad him. Taunting him that they will get all the answers they seek and the Horseman will remain imprisoned, a failure to his cause. Andy then starts speaking and as the Horseman sort of loses balance, Ichabod spots a necklace. He’s rather upset by the find and ends up telling Abbie more of his history. It seems a short time after Ichabod turned traitor to the Crown, Katrina became engaged to Ichabod’s best friend Abraham. Ichabod picks out a necklace for Katrina and at a lavish party, they steal a private moment where Katrina says she’s going to break off the engagement because she wants to marry for love (aka Ichabod). Abbie points out that he’s got game if Katrina ditched her prior honey for him. But he’s more focused on why the Horseman has her necklace and what all that entails. Abbie tries to keep him on point, reminding him that they need to find the Horseman’s weakness, not reveal Ichabod’s. She has a point and it’s a little jarring to see Ichabod so unhinged and emotional. He’s always so stoic and calm.

While Ichabod tries to ascertain more information from the Horseman (like what he knows about Katrina’s fate and why he had the necklace), Jenny and Irving have a tack team backing them up. They find five Hessians ready to blow the power. They take the suckers down but it’s too little too late. As Ichabod demands to know why the Horseman was targeting him during the war and the Horseman begins to taunt him about Ichabod killing Abraham, there’s an explosion, the power goes out and the Horseman releases Andy from his hold. Shit just got very, very real. It would appear that Ichabod has some secrets he has yet to share with Abbie, even if he believes them to be a different version of events. I mean come on, first he steals his bestie’s fiancée. Then said bestie dies?

Abbie won’t let Ichabod back into talk to Headless until she gets the story about Abraham. We quickly learn the real truth about Abraham’s death. He was distraught over Katrina leaving him and as he and Ichabod are off to deliver the precursor to the Declaration of Independence, Ichabod admits that Katrina professed her love to him the day before. This sends Abraham into a rage and demands that Ichabod fight him. Ichabod does all he can to not fight his best friend but in the end he has no choice and Abraham bests him. Unfortunately, Hessians arrive and shoot Abraham. Ichabod takes a few down but has no choice but to abandon his dying comrade to complete his mission.

Irving and Jenny join up with our Witnesses and things are not looking good. They haven’t found the artifact yet on any of the Hessians they arrested at the DWP (Ichabod by the way, not a fan of acronyms). Irving then makes the decision to get heavier artillery distributed with Abbie and Jenny while Ichabod remains with Headless. Abbie wants to stay with Ichabod and I can see why. This whole experience is really throwing our time traveler for an emotional loop and he needs someone there to keep him focused. But Abbie goes off with Jenny to clear the tunnels. Not a surprise to anyone (but Ichabod), Andy had the artifact hidden in his body (slightly gross) and he gets rid of the spell and frees the Horseman. This of course leads to a duel between Ichabod and Headless which is exactly the same fight he had with Abraham and it all clicks for Ichabod. The Horseman is his fallen friend. I have to say I did not see that twist coming. I like that the writers are willing to give the big bad (or at least a mid-level baddie) a decent back story and purpose other than just being evil.

As the fight continues, Abbie, Jenny and Irving fight off Moloch’s minions. And Andy becomes a puppet again, gloating about the fact that Katrina’s soul is his prize. Creepy. And we also get to see how Moloch chose Abraham to be Death. The transformation is rather alarming. It seems Ichabod is going to be beaten finally when Andy reverses the hex spell and Moloch’s minions sweep in to whisk Death and Andy away. It seems Moloch has other plans for Ichabod’s demise. Having survived to fight another day, Ichabod still feels responsible for turning his best friend into Death. Abbie points out that he’s being rather arrogant. But on the plus side, they seem to have determined what the Horseman’s weakness is. Since Death said Katrina’s soul will be his, it means she’s not his yet and they have a chance at saving her. I have to say, I’m glad that Ichabod is now fighting to get his wife back. In the earlier episodes it seemed more an afterthought but maybe that was because he was still trying to adjust to this century. Either way, the next episode is going to be intense. I’ll be sad to see the season end but I am having a hell of a good time on this ride while we have it.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Doctor Who Week 2013: "Stolen Earth/Journey's End"

“You know, you act like such a lonely man. But look at you! You’ve got the biggest family on Earth.”
-Sarah Jane Smith

We’re continuing Doctor Who Week with a recap of what was arguably the victory lap of the Russell T. Davies era of “Doctor Who” – the two-part series 4 finale, “Stolen Earth” and “Journey’s End.” This two-parter really celebrates all that Davies had built over the previous four years. The Doctor is joined by all the people who mean the most to him in one epic battle against Davros and his Daleks. The very fabric of all reality is in the balance. It takes the whole time traveling family to set this very big problem right, and for a brief shining moment, the Doctor can revel in his “children of time” by his side, all piloting the TARDIS as it was meant to be. All of the Tenth Doctors companions and other extended people he cares about are there, and it’s spectacular. Briefly, Davros tries to convince the Doctor that this is bad – that he has turned these people he cares about into his weapons – but by the end, it’s all triumph, and it’s quite a lot of fun to watch.

Planets are disappearing, and the barriers between dimensions are thinning. The Doctor knows it’s bad when Donna tells him that she talked to Rose. There should be no way for that to happen. All of a sudden, the Doctor and Donna are in the TARDIS, but the Earth is gone. Everybody on Earth is panicking because all of a sudden there are a bunch of extra planets in the sky. The Earth has been completely moved. The Doctor and Donna, naturally, want to find it, and their first stop is the Shadow Proclamation. The visit to the Shadow Proclamation is a great example of how Russell T. Davies would plant a phrase throughout a season and have it pay off at the end. “Shadow Proclamation” and “Medusa Cascade” (more on that in a minute) were to series 4 what “Bad Wolf” was to series 1 and “Torchwood” was to series 2. The actual Shadow Proclamation is both a governing document and the body that enforces it (backed up by a Judoon army).

The Doctor realizes what’s going on pretty quickly. When he lines up all the missing planets, he figures out that whoever is behind all this wants to use the planets as some sort of power source. Then Donna mentions how the bees have been going missing. Apparently the type of really intelligent bees that left the planet left a trail on their way to safety. The Doctor and Donna jump in the TARDIS and whoop away over the Shadow Proclamation’s protest. They follow the bees to the Medusa Cascade, but then the trail goes cold. Meanwhile, on Earth, none other than Harriet Jones (we know who she is!) is bringing the band together to try and contact the Doctor. Rose is with Donna’s family who doesn’t have a webcam, but she can watch everyone else conferencing it up. She’s a little jealous, really. Anyway, Harriet sends out a signal that is boosted by Torchwood and everybody on Earth using their cell phones. This signal makes the Doctor’s phone ring, and he and Donna have their coordinates. The area where the missing planets have been collected is one second out of synch with the rest of the universe, but with the signal, the Doctor finds it.

Finding the Doctor comes at a cost. The Daleks, who are behind all of this, notice the signal immediately, and the kill Harriet for sending it out. She transfers the signal to Torchwood right before she dies, and Gwen and Ianto are ready for a fight. Captain Jack has left to go help the Doctor more directly. Rose, Mickey, Martha, and Jackie are all in the mix as well. Martha’s got a mission from UNIT to go to an Osterhagen key station. Rose finds herself right around where the Doctor and Donna land the TARDIS. Donna is the first to point out Rose to the Doctor, and it is obvious that they are both just overjoyed to see each other. After pausing a moment in disbelief, they start running towards each other. Unfortunately, the big reunion is interrupted by a Dalek, who shoots at the Doctor. It’s not a square shot, but it’s enough to really seriously injure the Doctor. Captain Jack arrives just in time to take out the Dalek before it gets worse, but the damage is already done. In the TARDIS, the Doctor starts to regenerate. He manages to put most of the regeneration energy in the jar that holds his hand, though, so he doesn’t actually change form.

Davros basically wants a complete victory over the Doctor. After the Doctor, Rose, and Jack walk out of the TARDIS and into the Dalek crucible, Davros sends the TARDIS to be destroyed with Donna still in it. Donna is also saved by the Doctor’s hand. She touches the jar, and somehow her DNA mixing with the jar creates a “meta-crisis” where the hand grows into a whole new, mostly human Doctor. I call him 10.5. At the same time, Mickey, Jackie, and Sarah Jane Smith have made their way up to the crucible by surrendering to the Daleks. The Daleks try to put them in the “testing” room with all the other humans, but they all manage to just barely escape. What the Daleks are testing is a “reality bomb,” and all the humans left in the room are completely disintegrated. It left me not quite sure what to think of Mickey, Jackie, and Sarah Jane, as they seemed to only truly care about saving themselves in that moment. Jackie did apologize to a fellow captive before teleporting out, at least.

With everybody (except the Doctor and Rose) free, it’s time to start fighting back. Martha’s at the Osterhagen station, which is part of a system that will blow up the Earth in case of extreme emergency. Sarah Jane also has a warp star that can blow up the whole crucible. Davros gives the Doctor a big speech about how he has turned his friends into weapons, and it’s pretty clear that the Doctor isn’t thrilled at all with the thought of his friends doing his dirty work. It ends up being a moot point, though, as Davros has everybody teleported right to his room in the crucible vault before any exploding can happen. It is interesting, though, that all of the Doctor’s companions were so willing to cause widespread destruction in his name. I guess the Daleks have that effect on people.

Donna of all people is the one to save the day. She and 10.5 return to the crucible, and when she’s grazed by a Dalek shot, something clicks in her brain. When the metacrisis happened, she took on some of the Doctor’s consciousness. She’s the Doctor-Donna, just as the Ood said she would be earlier in the season. She basically ends up doing what needs to be done to stop Davros and keep the reality bomb from going off. 10.5 then decides to take it a step further and kill all the new Daleks. The actual Doctor is pretty horrified by this. He has already committed genocide once, and he doesn’t wish that emotional turmoil on anybody. He’s also the ultimate pacifist and “good man,” of course, and I believe we will see in the 50th Anniversary special this Saturday just how much of a toll setting that aside took on him.

Anyway, with Davros and the Daleks defeated, the last thing to do is put Earth back where it belongs. The Cardiff Rift and Sarah Jane’s computer, Mr. Smith form a sort of virtual tow rope, and the Doctor has his whole posse help him pilot the Tardis to drag Earth back home. It’s that moment, with triumphant Murray Gold music accompanying it, where all is as it should be. The TARDIS, we learn, isn’t meant to just be piloted by one or two people. All too soon, however, the Doctor has to say goodbye to all of his friends, and we swing back towards Lonely God mode. Sarah Jane, Martha, Mickey, and Jackie all have fairly standard, although nice goodbyes.

The goodbyes with Rose and Donna hurt a bit more. The Doctor takes Rose back to the parallel universe, and he leaves 10.5 with her. Rose probably shouldn’t be okay with this, but when 10.5 says he’s part human with all of the Doctor’s memories, and he tells her he loves her when the actual Doctor can’t, Rose goes with it. The Doctor wants this to happen because 10.5 can give Rose a life that he can’t, and he also hopes Rose can help 10.5 heal from the effects of committing genocide like she helped him. I never really liked this resolution. I can’t believe 10.5 would be an acceptable substitute that quickly. Donna’s fate is just tragic. She can’t survive with the Time Lord consciousness in her brain, and the Doctor has to wipe her of all her memories of traveling with him. As the Doctor leaves Chiswick to resume Lonely God status, Donna is back to being the rather shallow person she was back in The Runaway Bride. It’s probably the biggest tragedy of all.