Archive for category Doctor Who
Doctor Who fans converged on Washington, D.C. for Awesome Con on earlier this month to see Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman. The U.K. actors were interviewed by Kristen Page-Kirby, the Senior Arts Editor for the Washington Post Express. The half hour panel also featured a Q&A with the audience.
“I’m not sure how successfully Clara was able to wipe [the Doctor’s] mind,” Capaldi hinted about future episodes. He stopped mid-sentence before giving away anything else. Though Clara has left, it remains to be seen where these leftover pieces, if any, will take the Doctor. Read the rest of this entry »
Caution: This review contains spoilers.
The latest episode of Doctor Who takes the Doctor (Peter Capaldi) and Clara (Jenna Coleman) to the hidden streets of London, where aliens reside somewhat peacefully away from the world. Lording over them is none other than Me/Ashildr (Maisie Williams) as an enforcer. Sentencing for crimes is rather strict, resulting in a tattoo that counts down to zero. At zero, the Raven comes in for the kill.
Clara’s friend, Rigsy (Joivan Wade), has the tattoo on his neck, but he has no memory of killing a creature the day before. Clara and the Doctor seek to clear his name through their investigation. They speak with the victim’s son, who really turns out to be a girl (Naomi Ackie). The situation turns out to be a trap for the Doctor, laid by Ashildr and presently unknown enemies.
Ashildr promised her personal protection to Clara at the Doctor’s insistence. However, Clara gets Rigsy to transfer the death counter to her. It’s reminiscent of the Doctor’s willingness to take risks, like the time he took the 60 seconds on the Orient Express to figure out the mummy. However, Clara’s gamble backfires, since another one of Ashildr’s deals only extended to Rigsy.
The Doctor suffers major losses here: Clara’s death and surrendering his TARDIS key. It’s not clear who contracted Ashildr to go after the Doctor and teleport him away. The Daleks, Missy, or even the Gallifreyans could easily fit that role. If Clara’s echoes are around, there’s a chance that we’ll be seeing her again as well.
Unfortunately, season nine has been rather disappointing so far. The two-part format has been largely unnecessary with weak scripts and only a mere flicker of excitement by the end of the second part. Here, we’re back to the single episodes, but again, the stories are not particularly strong. There’s an opportunity in next week’s episode ‘Heaven Sent’ to retool things and get back on track.
One of the other larger questions for the series is the identity of the next companion. Ashildr is not a likely candidate, given that the Doctor wants her to stay out of his way. For now, River Song (Alex Kingston) is coming back for the Christmas Special, which should be interesting to see. There’s already an amusing promotional photo circulating through social media, depicting an uneasy River holding onto the Doctor’s shoulder. What trouble will they be taking on together and what sort of dynamic will their relationship have?
Caution: This review contains spoilers.
The Vikings are Coming!
It’s another multi-episode story arc for Doctor Who, as viewers are introduced to Ashildre in “The Girl Who Died.” The offbeat and “strange” Viking girl is portrayed by Maisie Williams from the hit series Game of Thrones, a casting decision that’s generated buzz for months. Williams is neither the Doctor’s granddaughter nor someone else from his past. That revelation may leave some viewers disappointed, but I regard this weekend’s chapter as a strong venture onto some new ground.
The Doctor (Peter Capaldi) and Clara (Jenna Coleman) embark on another adventure and end up getting captured by Vikings. His Sonic Shades are destroyed. The Time Lord tries to pass himself off as the god Odin, complete with yo-yo tricks. The “real” Odin appears in the sky, sending down beings in heavy armor. The creatures are identified as the Mire by the Doctor, harvesting “testosterone” from the strongest members of a species from places they visit. It’s creepy and admittedly a bit gross, but Ashildre (the “girl” in the title, if you hadn’t already guessed by now) is really the focus here.
Clara and Ashildre are taken along with the warrior Vikings, signaling that the latter young woman is not all that she seems. Her “oddness” around others and love for puppetry are qualities that attract the Doctor to her story. It also brings to mind the connection that Clara made with the belittled and frightened young Doctor in “Listen.”
Look Who’s Talking
Clara and Ashildre survive the trap in the spaceship, meeting the mastermind, fake Odin. Ashildre rashly challenges fake Odin, who accepts it and sends the two women back. The Doctor is reluctant to help with the upcoming battle despite pleas from Clara and Ashildre. The strongest voice turns out to be a crying baby, wailing that he translates for everyone: “Hold me, Mother, I am afraid. Turn your face towards me, Mother … for you are beautiful … I will sing for you.” Capaldi teases out such a lovely tone to capture both the infant’s fears and reassurances, a little speech that might otherwise have floundered.
The Doctor, as we’ve seen previously (recall Stormy in “Closing Time”), is a sucker for babies and decides to stay. His attempts at training the remaining villagers with real swords ends disastrously and hilariously with the town on fire. Who needs the Mire when these fellows (the likes of Lofty, ZZ Top, Heidi, etc.) can take themselves out? Again, Lofty’s infant daughter is instrumental here, as the Doctor connects her reference to “fire in the water” with the eels in the barrels.
“I Can Do Anything”
The electricity from the eels very briefly immobilizes the Mire. Ashildre gets the honors of putting on the Mire helmet and projecting a dragon that frightens the aliens. Clara records everything on her phone, which the Doctor threatens to upload on the galactic internet of sorts. The modern blackmail is a nice touch. Overall, I would say that “The Girl Who Died” is certainly a vast improvement over last season’s “Robot of Sherwood,” another episode that combined a past century with armored enemies and a hidden spaceship. (I did enjoy that spoon fight last year, I admit.)
Ashildre dies from the effects of the helmet, prompting a passionate moment from the Time Lord. We finally get an answer about the Doctor’s face and why it looks like that of Caecilius, a Roman that he (David Tennant) rescued in “Fires of Pompeii.” The Doctor remembers that exact face and that he broke the rules to save that life: “To remind me. To hold me to the mark… I’m the Doctor and I save people!” That pronouncement doesn’t explain where John Frobisher of Torchwood fits into the mix, unless he’s a descendant of Caecilius.
“Dying is an Ability”
There’s a bit of overkill as the Doctor repeats the warning about “ripples” or bad consequences if you interfere and do things you aren’t supposed to do. He revives Ashildre with a medical kit from the Mire and leaves a second one for her to use on “whoever she wants.” It’s a repair device that gives her immortality, almost like the regenerative abilities of the Doctor. However, Ashildre has a rather dark look after countless days pass for her, bringing another “fire” with which the Doctor will have to contend.
Another issue is the fact that those Sonic Shades are gone. At this year’s Awesome Con, Alex Kingston hinted that we have yet to see the Doctor with her screwdriver. The need for a new screwdriver and the news of River Song’s return this Christmas together suggest that we’re about to see it again. For now, check back next time for Maisie Williams’ return in “The Woman Who Lived.”
Comic-Con will be in full swing come Thursday, July 9. If you were fortunate to snag a badge to the biggest convention in San Diego, which panels should you attend? Let’s run through a few must-sees:
“Hand of God”
In this Amazon series, Ron Perlman (“Sons of Anarchy,” “Hellboy”) plays a corrupt judge who may be “in the midst of a religious epiphany” after a family tragedy. It’s now a question of whether he’ll continue along the same course or try to do the right thing. It’s a full panel with Perlman, Ben Watkins (“Burn Notice”), Garret Dilahunt (“Justified”), Andre Royo (“Happyish”), Alona Tal (“Supernatural”), Julian Morris (“Pretty Little Liars”), Emayatzy Corinealdi (“Criminal Minds”), and Elizabeth McLaughlin (“Betrayal”). From the trailer, could it potentially fill the void left by the cancellation of Kelsey Grammar’s “Boss” a while ago?
“The Player” Sneak Peek and Q&A
This new NBC drama premieres in the fall. It’s no surprise that the high stakes chase after criminals feels somewhat like “The Blacklist,” because the same executive producers are on the project. Philip Winchester plays successful security tester and agent Alex Kane, whose life is turned upside down by the death of his wife. His adversary and quasi new employer is the enigmatic and smooth Mr. Johnson, portrayed by Wesley Snipes. Catch this sneak peek and the ensuing discussion!
“Doctor Who” Q&A The stars of “Doctor Who” are coming to Comic-Con! It’ll be Peter Capaldi’s first appearance at SDCC this summer. He’ll be there along with Jenna Coleman, Michelle Gomez, and Steven Moffat. Missy is due back for Season 9, but I wouldn’t expect Steven Moffat to be forthcoming with spoilers. Will Peter Capaldi share any surprising facts and possibly outdo last year’s reveal about how he turned down a “Doctor Who” audition years ago?
Later on Thursday afternoon, Steven Moffat will address another segment of the BBC America fan base: the “Sherlock” fans! Will there be any more light shed upon the Victorian special? Also joining him are executive producer Sue Vertue and Rupert Graves, who plays DI Greg Lestrade.
While there’s a plethora of things to do at San Diego Comic-Con, you’ll miss out if you don’t put these panels as a priority. For a complete list of Thursday’s programming, visit the SDCC website. Check back soon and we’ll run through Friday’s program schedule.
(6/2/15 Update: Sharper Photo from Robbie Hott)
There’s nothing more alarming than a schedule change when you’re already at a convention. “Doctor Who” fans know the feeling all too well, as Awesome Con had recently cancelled the Friday evening “Pond Family Reunion.” Imagine my consternation when a good friend caught up to me at the beginning of what I believed to be the Arthur Darvill line.
“Darvill is at 2:30,” he told me.
“What?” I said.
That was good news indeed, unless for some reason, you don’t particularly like either one of the actors. Kingston was already famous in the 1990s for her portrayal of Dr. Elizabeth Corday in the hit drama series, “ER.” More recently, she’s played River Song on “Doctor Who” and Dinah Lance in “Arrow.” The panel was aptly moderated by Count Gore de Vol, who referred to the celebrated actress creatively as the “more important doctor:” a reference to her character’s archaeology degree. Save for a couple of questions from the Count, the entire hour was dedicated to inquiries from the audience, complete with fezzes and bow ties. Read the rest of this entry »
Tomorrow marks the beginning of Awesome Con in Washington, DC. The convention, which spans three days, originally promoted the arrival of all three members of the Pond family: Rory, Amy, and River from “Doctor Who.” Sadly, Karen Gillan had to bow out of her slated appearance, but it should still be a great time with Arthur Darvill and Alex Kingston on hand for their respective panels, autograph sessions, and photo-ops. Perhaps the biggest question for “Who” fans is whether or not River Song will return, this time opposite Peter Capaldi, the Twelfth Doctor.
While the Pond family is a big highlight of the upcoming weekend, it’s hardly the main event, as many other exciting guests will be present. Here’s a rundown of panelists that you should check out, if you’re coming to DC:
William Shatner and George Takei
Need I say more? These “Star Trek” legends will undoubtedly pay their respects to the late Leonard Nimoy and also subject the crowds to their unique brand of humor.
Queens of Darkness
Kristin Bauer, Merrin Dungey, and Victoria Smurfit share their insights and answer questions about “Once Upon a Time.” Unfortunately, two other “queens of darkness,” Lana Parrilla and Rebecca Mader, won’t be making an appearance. Zelena’s status in a role of evil is not up for debate, but it seems Regina is a hero with the events of the most recent series.
This actor was in the very first “Terminator” film: the one that started the entire franchise. He’ll likely address the upcoming “Genisys” release.
Sean Astin and John Rhys-Davies
That’s Sam and Gimli from “Lord of the Rings.” I don’t think I need to elaborate on this panel. Even Frodo and Legolas fans should attend.
There are many more sessions to keep you entertained: “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Starship Troopers,” “Dexter,” and even the original “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” cartoon series. So maybe you didn’t get tickets to San Diego Comic Con, but as Awesome Con demonstrates, you don’t have to be in San Diego to spot your favorite actors from the hottest televisions shows and films.
Come back early next week, when I report back with highlights about Awesome Con.
To purchase tickets and for a full list of the programming schedule, visit the Awesome Con website.
Neil Gaiman stopped in Washington, D.C., this past weekend at DAR Constitution Hall. When he stepped up to the podium and said a quiet “Hello,” I was rather struck by his soft-spoken demeanor. Yet the author from the U.K. has quite an arresting and endearing stage presence: captivating the audience as he filled the ensuing ninety minutes with jokes, poignant personal anecdotes, and a small selection of excerpts from his books. I wager that you’ll be utterly mesmerized within the first five minutes of one of Neil Gaiman’s speaking engagements.
Let’s run through some highlights from this fascinating Q&A:
It’s very easy to like Neil Gaiman because he answers questions with such a refreshing spirit of frankness that is punctuated with a wonderful sense of humor. Does he prefer working on novels or comics? “What I prefer,” Gaiman teases out with his English drawl, “is doing whatever the hell I want to.” Aside from generating a lot of cheers and laughs, the remark speaks to an honesty and confidence that’s backed by the award-winning writer’s own personal experiences. He recounted his early days as a journalist, interviewing best-selling authors that were stuck in a particular genre, when they’d really like to try other areas. It’s a trap that he’s always sought to avoid, which is one reason why his popular novel “American Gods” is set in the States instead of in London.
Gaiman read out a small part of “Good Omens,” the novel he co-authored with the late Terry Pratchett largely through long telephone conversations. He also read the “October Tale” and the “Adventure Story” from his own short story collections. There’s certainly something to be said of being present when a novelist reads his own work aloud. That evening came complete with the inflections of the voice, furrowed brow, and dramatic pauses to conjure up a genie, a delivery man, and other characters with ease.
Gaiman doesn’t believe in writer’s block, as if relegating it to the realm of excuses. It’s easier to win sympathy when you say that you have writer’s block, as opposed to just being “stuck.” You can backtrack and fix your writing if you’re stuck, he explains, because the project is still in your control. When he gets stuck, he moves to another project until he’s ready to return to a previous one.
“American Gods” is being pitched to the Starz Network. Gaiman informed the crowd that “Sandman” is owned by Warner Brothers, but Joseph Gordon-Levitt (“Dark Knight Rises”) has been working on it.
Writing episodes for “Doctor Who” is not the same as writing a novel. As a way of demonstrating, he voiced the assessment of a production crew member: “It’s very good, but … we only have 100 hours of CGI. Your script has [more like] 700 hours of CGI!” Regrettably, some of the brilliant content gets cut.
Of Superheroes and Superpowers
One of the funniest questions was the following: “Batman or Superman boxers?” Gaiman is rather clever with wordplay and he responded instead that he’d put his “money on Batman if it’s Batman [versus] a pair of Superman boxers.”
When asked about superpowers, Gaiman said he would “love to make time stretchy.” It would be very useful for a writer because you could hold onto those spurts of inspiration. What would be better than being able to “lean against a Tuesday” and have “another three hours?” he posed, holding his hand up as if resting the tips of his long, thin fingers on an imaginary wall.
The audience rolled with laughter upon hearing the tale of how Gaiman’s wife, Amanda Palmer, removed her clothes in one of the rooms of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston; I believe it was for a sketching session (but it was hard to hear what he said). It resulted in some museum workers covering the security cameras with cups so as not to distract the security guards who watch the feed. Radio personality Ira Glass, as the story was told, had simply asked what the author had done that morning. “You don’t have adventures?!” an incredulous Glass exclaimed over the phone.
“I don’t,” insists Gaiman. “My wife has adventures. Sometimes I get swept up in her wake!”
I would count that as a real adventure. While it’s a pity that “An Evening with Neil Gaiman” lasts no more than ninety minutes, it turns out to be quite the evening! You shouldn’t expect less from this master storyteller, whose range of fans encompasses people of all ages.