Tag Archives: Dinosaurs on a Spaceship

Doctor Who Series 7 (part 1)

The (half) series finale of Doctor Who aired in the US last night.  I am finding it difficult to gather my thoughts about this one, partially because I swear to god the damn thing just came back on. FIVE episodes? I don’t think it can possibly count as a season (or even half a season) if all the episodes took place during the same month.  I do not like this half season now and half season in January thing.  It didn’t used to be like this. There were usually episodes in April, May, and then there would be a break for the summer, and then it would come back in fall. Right?  I’m confused by this schedule. Also, normally there are 6 or 7 episodes before the long break. Five barely feels like enough.  But, okay, I can’t do anything about their scheduling decisions. I assume things didn’t air in Spring-Summer because of the Diamond Jubilee and then the Olympics.  It doesn’t make me happy about waiting until Christmas for more, but moving on!
I have to say I really wasn’t that impressed with this season, which makes me sad.  I love Doctor Who, but for whatever reasons these episodes didn’t have the same quality as the previous seasons.  Excuse me while I ramble, Virginia Woolf-style, about this meh season.

Asylum of the Daleks– This one was a pretty bad start to the year. Why would the Daleks have an asylum for their crazies? They have never had a problem with destroying weaker members of their species in the past.  Also, I saw the twist coming quite early on.  Well, maybe not early, but well before it was actually revealed.  And the Rory and Amy problems are getting old. They love each other, but …even though Amy shows again and again that she loves Rory, I still find it hard to believe. Maybe it’s because her chemistry with the Doctor is much more potent than hers with Rory. Which is crazy, because I think Rory is adorable, especially this season when he doesn’t have a ridiculous pony tail or whatever.  But when Amy looks at the Doctor, you can see light in her eyes, and it’s just not there when she looks at Rory. Maybe it’s just because the only time we see them together it’s when one or both of them are near death. They are always fighting or not together, and then the Doctor fixes all their marriage problems within one 48 minute episode. Pfft.

Also, the Doctor is really violent in this episode! I know they keep pushing the fact that he shouldn’t travel alone, but jeez!

Dinosaurs on a Spaceship– I had really high hopes for this episodes. Dinosaurs are cute, two people from Harry Potter are in it. What more could I ask for? Well, I could ask them not to kill off my favorite dinosaur.  Also, it just was…meh. Maybe I should re-title this review “Meh”.  I loved Mr. Weasley (Mark Williams) as Rory’s dad, and found that to be totally believable.  On the other hand, I’m never going to like a big game hunter, and think he should have been punched in the face for killing defenseless animals as a career. That’s just me, though.  And probably the animals are on my side, but I digress.  I just found that, once again, it didn’t have as much of an emotional impact as I thought.  Am I growing cold-hearted and cruel in my old age or something?  I’m starting to think maybe it was the music.  You know how music can trigger emotions in you? I’m wondering if the music was different in this season and it kept me from having the connection.  Also the pacing was a bit too quick, which meant that by the time it occurred to me to start caring about someone or something, they were usually dead or the episode was over.  Doctor Who is always a fast-paced show, though, so it seems odd that this would just bother me now.  I really don’t know what it is.

A Town Called Mercy– This one is more or less a blur. I like the Doctor with his Stetson back on, but that’s about it.  I think this was the weakest of the episodes, perhaps because I didn’t really care for anyone in it. We didn’t even learn the names of anyone, except for the sheriff and the evil doctor.  I also remember the Doctor has guns. What’s with the violence this season?

Similarly, I hardly remember anything about The Power of Three, except for the corny final line about cubed…oh wait, now I remember.  I think this story had a ton of potential. It’s always amusing when the Doctor has to stay in one place for very long. To be patient.  Because he is, essentially, a 10-year-old boy inside. And they did show that, but once again it wasn’t as funny as I felt like it should have been. I sort of would have enjoyed some bits about the Doctor not cleaning up his dirty dishes or something. Something to make it seem like he was really living there, and they were almost a family.  Plus the plot seemed mostly unexplained.  Okay, the cubes are observing us and infiltrating our homes, etc.  Why did some of them play music, or take blood, or trigger emotions? It either doesn’t make sense or wasn’t explained well enough for me to get it. Maybe true Whovians know the back story of the villain for this episode, and perhaps that makes it easier.  On the other hand, in the past the show would at least ensure the plot made sense for those who hadn’t been watching Doctor Who for 40 years.

And The Angels Take Manhattan? *sigh*  I am scared to death of the weeping angels, I will freely admit that. They scare me more than every other DW villain combined. Every episode with them has been awesome.  And this was the last episode with Rory and Amy, this was really important.  I’d like to say I liked it.  I do think it was the best episode of the season.  But…it should have been better.  Rory and Amy (especially Amy) have been so important.  As important as Rose, I think.  And they have been on the show for quite a while now. I wanted to see them go out in epic fashion, and I wanted to see them happy.  What will happen to Mr. Weasley now, waiting for them to come home?

And the Doctor this episode was sort of awful.  He had a tantrum, he acted like a child. He was no help with River, and Amy and Rory had to save themselves. The Doctor couldn’t do anything. He just wasn’t on his game. He wasn’t himself.  He acted like a petulant child. Normally he acts like an excited child, but this was just…not fun. Not helpful.  Rory and Amy and even River were able to be adults. The Doctor wasn’t, and that bothered me. He seemed really fallible, and not in a way that you want.

I think I would have been okay if I had just seen Rory and Amy together, maybe in some 30’s clothes with jobs or a puppy or something.  A life together.  Instead, it seemed a lot like Back to the Future III. You get a last letter/farewell, you can see the gravestone that says they lived long lives together, but that’s it. You want to go back and see for yourselves. It feels rushed and incomplete. Which is how it would feel for the Doctor, of course, so maybe it’s a conscious decision, but as an audience you want some sense of closure.

Also, one thing is driving me fucking crazy: How did River get the book back to Amy to publish if it’s impossible to get in to that time vortex again? And if she could get in with her vortex manipulator, why couldn’t she just get them back out? Or at least she and the Doctor could go back to see them periodically?

Am I alone in this? I don’t think I am, but you never know.  Here’s hoping the next half of the season is much better!

Upcoming British TV

You may have noticed, if you’re one of the 3 people who regularly read this blog, that content about British TV has been lacking lately.  That’s natural, given that it is summer and there isn’t much of anything new on.  But fall is approaching fast and there are a lot of good shows coming back, and a lot of new shows that look awesome.  So here’s a primer on what to expect over the coming months on TV.

Doctor Who premiered last Saturday, and another episode was just on last night.  I have grown to really love 11, though I still prefer 10 and probably always will consider him the best Doctor ever.  If you have no idea what I’m talking about, skip this bit as you are not a Whovian and won’t particularly care.

I have to say that these last two episodes have seemed rather lackluster to me.  There were some plot holes in the Asylum of the Daleks, and I saw the twist coming fairly early on.  Dinosaurs on a Spaceship was a bit better, and I love Mr. Weasley as Rory’s dad.  Something just seems off with both episodes so far, and I can’t tell if it’s the show or it’s me.  I suspect, however, that it is not me.  They’ve jumped right in as though there’s been no gap, and I could have done with a bit of a slow submersion.  I do love Karen Gillan, though, and she has been awesome as always.  I think it’s the writing or the direction to blame, but I”m having trouble putting my finger on why or how.  It’s almost like the episodes start too quickly and keep going too quickly for you to be emotionally invested.  And then they’re over, and you still aren’t particularly invested.  It’s missing some of the emotional scenes that you find in other episodes, and so far there hasn’t been anything particularly scary.  A bunch of rusty old Daleks and Filch? After the weeping angels, it takes a lot to scare me anymore, but they’re not even trying!

So why is this on my list of what to look forward to this fall? Because it’s Doctor Who! I will continue to watch it, and hopefully it will get better.

Downton Abbey

There are two trailers out right now for the third season. This one:

And this one (which I prefer):

Maggie Smith is divine.  And Shirley MacLaine as the American grandmother? Wonderful. I cannot wait to see those two in action together.

Okay so here is the big problem with Downton Abbey, and I cannot believe that in the 21st century it has come down to this.  On ITV in the UK, it premieres this month. Next week, I believe.  When will it be on PBS? January.

January?! This is ridiculous.  Why cant the studios just get together and decide to air it at the same time? Or shortly after?  As far as I know, there is no legal way for Americans to get their hands on the show before it airs on PBS or comes out on DVD (which might happen first, to be honest).  I would honestly pay to watch it, but I don’t think there is a way to do so.  Whose idea was that? I realize that ITV can’t broadcast here, and they are a British only channel, but this is ridiculous.  I suppose now I know how it feels for Brits who want to watch the latest episodes of our shows. But honestly, there should be a way to get it through iTunes or something. I am honestly not going to wait until January. I refuse.

And a similar thing is happening with Parade’s End.

This was actually a joint venture between BBC and HBO, which means they have equal rights to air it (in my non-expert legal opinion).  This aired during August in the UK (I only know about it because I caught the last 20 minutes of one of the episodes while I was in London).  HBO hasn’t even announced an air date for the US.  BLARGH. Why do they do this to me?

In case you haven’t heard of it either, let me describe.  This was originally four novels by Ford Maddox Ford, and has been adapted into this mini-series, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Rebecca Hall.  The plot revolves around a wealthy couple, and it is set in the early 20th century, so there are naturally comparisons with Downton Abbey. The husband is sent off to fight in the trenches in WWI.  There’s a love triangle somewhere in there. I didn’t want to read much else because I don’t want to spoil the fun of actually watching it.  If that ever happens.

So, will anything actually be on soon for us unlucky Americans?  Yes! Thank god.

   Judging by the press photos, this one is about women who ride around on bikes in matching outfits.  Okay, actually, it’s titled Call the Midwife and I am quite excited about it, despite being horrified by the idea of childbirth and by the presence of nuns.

The show centers around a group of midwives in 1950s Britain, and it was a huge hit there. Smashed all sorts of ratings records.  It even beat Downton Abbey in the ratings. So, I’m definitely going to give it a try.  It airs on PBS, starting September 30th.

Richard Hammond’s Crash Course is also returning this fall (October 15th).  It appears they have abandoned the need to associate him with vehicles, and the show has devolved into him simply encountering as many ridiculous and possibly embarrassing Americans as possible.  There is, thought, a really cute trailer.

Another one coming down the pipeline this fall:

Spies of Warsaw

This is another period piece, a WWII-era drama set in Poland (obviously). It stars David Tennant, and that’s about all I had to know before I decided to watch it.  No firm release date yet, that I can find. I believe it comes on when The Hour and other Dramaville programming returns, which would be November, I think.

So it’s set to be another year of British cultural imports.  I do want to add, however, that as much as I joke about being forced to wait for a long time to watch British shows, I am just joking. Of course I hate the waiting, and I don’t see a need for it when we’re perfectly capable of downloading everything anyway.  But as I learned on my trip to London last month, the TV in England is really terrible.  What? What am I saying?! This is a blog about British TV, among other things, so how could I be committing such blasphemy?  I never had a TV when I lived in London, so I had little experience with it.  At my hotel, though, we did have a TV. I didn’t sit down to watch it at any point, but before bed or in the morning I would switch it on, and I was shocked by what I found.  There are only 10-20 channels, and some of them are only available at certain times of the day.  They play a lot of American programming, from old episodes of sitcoms (Frasier of all things) to really terrible American movies that wouldn’t even be shown here (Bowfinger…really?).  Then there seems to be some sort of 24-hour Big Brother channel.  Mix that in with Coronation Street and East Enders, which seem to be less slick and less attractive versions of our soaps, and that’s about all of your choices. Of course, there’s always BBC news, right?  They do news incredibly well there. But, you soon realize that it runs on a 10- or 15-minute loop, especially in the morning.  It’s not fun. If I lived there, I don’t think I’d bother having a TV at all.  So when I complain about having to wait for these mini-series, I do not mean to imply that I would rather switch places with them. They have to wait a long time for our shows as well, and well, we just have a lot more options here. Plus, no TV tax here, always a bonus. So, take the complaining with a grain of salt, and everyone let’s try to be patient, and pretend we aren’t illegally downloading these things. We certainly wouldn’t do that.