Doctor Who Series 11: Review

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A little over a year ago, I wrote about What I Wanted to See from Doctor Who, going forward, specifically because Jodie Whitaker was about to become the first female Doctor in the show’s history.  The big thing that I didn’t want to see was the over sexualization of the Doctor, just because she would now be female, and they did that.  Arguably of all the Doctors of the modern run, she was the least sexual, or sexualized, and I’m happy with that, because after all this is an near immortal alien being with untold thousands of years of accumulated knowledge, whose consciousness never really dies. The Doctor  is nearly a goddess (formerly a god), hanging out with people who are merely decades old, and extremely mortal.  The sexual/romantic nature of that is always a bit questionable, so steering away from it, at least in her first season as a woman, was probably a good idea.

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Now, by that single metric the show was a success, but as you can imagine, whether or not a show’s main character is or is not over-sexualized isn’t the true determination of its quality.  This season was incredibly divisive, from what I saw on some Facebook pages, and the Doctor Who subreddit, this was a love it or hate it season.

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Many were claiming the show wasn’t Doctor Who anymore, citing that the new format of “Team TARDIS” with the Doctor and three season long companions, changed the dynamic too much from the Doctor and single companion model, which had been the case in most of the previous season, the only change being when a companion would bring on a boyfriend (Mickey, or Rory), or when they’d meet other aliens/time-travelers (Captain Jack, River Song).  Personally, I liked the dynamic, it was definitely different, but I don’t want to watch the same old thing over and over.

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The dynamic, and the characterization of the four TARDIS inhabitants was for me the strength of the season. The writers and actors had clearly worked to flesh out the characters.  Graham and Ryan had unresolved issues that became very naturally resolved, as step-grandfather and step-grandson, and really played out well.  Yas learned that her family were not all the tradition following people she had thought, and that her wanting something different and adventure weren’t that far off from her grandmother.  Finally, the Doctor, who is always a bit different after regenerations was just that a bit different, but really not too different, enough to reinvigorate, but not so much as to alienate… at least for most.

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One of the major complaints that I saw on Reddit, was that the Doctor is too much of a feminist, and more specifically a dreaded SJW.  Honestly, I don’t really see it.  The Doctor of the 1960’s may have been much less feminist than Jodie Whitaker’s Doctor, but I don’t think the last couple of iterations have been.  The truth is, like much of serialized sci-fi, Doctor Who is a show about striving for the fullest of human potential, and much of that is in a social aspect.  Star Trek boldly went with the first interracial kiss on American broadcast television, and as early as season one of this reboot, we had a character of Captain Jack Harkness, who for lack of a better term seemed omni-sexual, but was certainly as attracted to Christopher Eccleston’s Doctor, as he was to Rose.  This isn’t really new for the show, nor for the character.

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What was new about this dynamic for the character is that suddenly the Doctor is being taken less seriously because of her gender, and this is frustrating when she is for all intents and purposes the most authority on nearly every subject in the universe.  So, there was a little time dedicated to it, but it was a surprisingly little amount of time, usually no more than a line per episode (sometimes nothing at all).  So, personally I assume that this criticism of the ‘overwhelming feminism’ is little more than Trolling.

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But there are certainly some genuine criticisms, and I think it’s really important to take those seriously, because I personally want the show to be its best, and it cannot do that if the writers and show-runner bury their heads in the sand.  The big piece of genuine criticism, I think, was overuse and clunky exposition.  Lots of people online have mentioned it, but it bears repeating.  This show, like a lot of heavy sci-fi uses exposition more than some other genres, and that’s ok, but I would say this season seemed to do it the most, and that’s not a good thing.  I don’t any of the episodes were ruined by exposition, but in a show like this, they need to show and not tell as much as possible.

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I would say that this season gets either a C+ or maybe (if I’m being generous) a B- from me.  There was plenty of fun, and the characters were really done, but other than that I think there wasn’t enough there for me.   Some seasons have multiple episodes I would point people to, to get a feel for what the show should be, and this season really only had one (two if you count the New Years special, which is really Season 12 Episode 0).

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“Rosa,” which was episode 3, tells the story of our travels getting thrown into 1955 Montgomery, Alabama, and meeting Rosa Parks just days before her famous arrest for refusing to give up her seat on a segregated bus.  This was a great episode in pretty much every way, and I don’t want to say too much as to ruin it, but I will say this, even though the show does a lot of historical episodes, and places the doctor into a lot of historical scenarios, I’m not sure any have had the possibility of alienating the audience like this before, and it doesn’t (at least not for the real reasons).  You see in these historical episodes, a lot of times we find out that the Doctor was actually responsible for setting in motion some major historical event, and this hasn’t really ever been a problem, because it’s either played as a bit of a gag, or maybe it’s a historical event without an individual historically receiving credit, and so the Doctor isn’t stealing anyone’s credit.  That’s a fine line for the show to thread, and watching it I was a bit worried “oh please don’t make it that the Doctor sets this up, or take anything away from Rosa Parks,” and it doesn’t.  It’s brilliant in letting the plot of the show revolve around the show without setting really touching the moving parts of the actual history.  Think about when Marty McFly tries really hard in Back to the Future 2 to not interact with or change anything Marty McFly from Back to the Future 1 does in 1955, it’s kind of like thbat.  It’s by far the episode of this season that shows what Doctor Who can and should be.

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Written by Micheal Cole

NYCC 2018! Trailers Galore!

Hey Everyone,

Paul here…

This weekend was the New York Comic-Con. Probably the second largest Comic-Con in the world after the San Diego Comic-Con. Much like SDCC, this Con premiered some very cool trailers. Though there were a few interesting movie trailers, most of the big trailers for NYCC were for shows on TV or streaming services. Below I’ve rounded up all of my favorites so you don’t have to go looking yourself! It’s your best stop for all the coolest trailers! Enjoy!

Good Omens (Amazon Prime)

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This one caught me by surprise and is probably my favorite trailer of the Con. Good Omens was a fantasy/comedy novel written by Neil Gaiman (American Gods, The Sandman) and Terry Pratchett and published in 1990. For years people have tried turning the novel into a movie, most notably director Terry Gilliam. Television being what it is now, where it’s able to bring big screen production values, casting, and talent to long form story telling, Amazon Prime seems perfect for Good Omens. With a cast that includes Michael Sheen, David Tennant, and Jon Hamm, Good Omens has just become one of my most anticipated television projects in 2019.

 

American Gods Season 2 (Starz)

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Speaking of Neil Gaiman, we also got our first look at Season 2 of American Gods. Season 1 was pretty damn great, but by no means perfect. I’m a little concerned about some behind the scenes issues the show has had. They changed Showrunners between seasons, for example.  However, a lot of shows go through growing pains and this trailer looks like they’ve kicked things up a notch for Season 2. I definitely recommend checking out Season 1 if you haven’t already.

 

 

Daredevil Season 3 (Netflix)

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Now we’re talking! We have two trailers here. There have already been a few trailers for Daredevil Season 3, but this is the first real story trailer we’ve seen for this season. It looks to be largely borrowing from the graphic novels “Born Again” and “Guardian Devil”. However, the Showrunner has said that the season is its own unique tale while still borrowing elements from those classic stories.

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This is a quick character trailer focusing on Bullseye! I’ve been waiting since Season 1 for them to introduce this villain. Bullseye is probably Matt Murdock’s greatest rival besides Wilson Fisk. I can’t wait to see The Devil of Hell’s Kitchen face off against the Assassin Who Never Misses. October 19th can’t come soon enough.

 

 

The Boys (Amazon Prime)

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The Boys is based on a comic book by writer Garth Ennis (the creator of Preacher) and artist Darick Robertson. It’s an extremely fucked up, but fantastic story about a group of CIA black ops psychos who “deal” with out of control superheroes. And when is say “deal” I mean brutally fucking kill. The cast is certainly good and it looks like Amazon Prime is really upping their game.

 

Aquaman

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Finally, we have an extended look at Aquaman. I think this looks fantastic and I hope they knock it out of the park. I LOVE Black Manta’s costume and Aquaman’s more classic look that we see in the comics. James Wan is a spectacular and versatile director. This definitely has the potential to be something truly unique in the genre. Aquaman opens on 12/21.

 

Thanks for reading and watching!

-Paul

What I Want to See: Doctor Who

As you’re probably aware, Christmas is coming, but what you might not be aware of is that every year on Christmas, Doctor Who releases a Christmas special.  These specials aren’t just goofy Christmas specials like many other franchises might create, but are part of the continuity of the series.  In this particular special, we will see the 12th Doctor, played by Peter Capaldi, regenerate into the 13th Doctor who will be played by Jodie Whitaker.

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Whitaker will play the first female Doctor in this show’s 54 year run.  There is some controversy over it, but there is also precedent with other Time Lords (the Doctor’s race) becoming Time Ladies upon regeneration.  It’s really not a big deal.  I promise.  Or at least it shouldn’t be.

The fact that it shouldn’t be a big deal, is actually what I want to see with this show.  If Whitaker follows the trend she’ll be on for about 3 seasons (other than the 9th Doctor Christopher Eccleston, all modern Doctors have had 3).  I’m hoping that while the writers are making the character female, and can introduce elements of the female experience, I hope they don’t change fundamentals of the show’s structure in order to pander.

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Doctor Who has romance in many of its storylines, but ultimately the Doctor him/herself is not inherently romantic or driven by these stories.  David Tennant’s tenth Doctor was in love with Rose, and with it came heartbreak and all of those things that romance comes with, but the Doctor stayed focused on saving the world.  Matt Smith’s Eleventh Doctor had something of a romance with River Song, (spoiler alert she’s his wife) but again, it was secondary to his main story of saving the world.

I will not mind them having flirtations, or even a genuine love story in the 13th Doctor’s story, but the character cannot be defined by any relationship.  There seems to be a tendency in fiction, and perhaps in non-fiction to define people by their relationships, and the Doctor whether he’s a he, or she’s a she, should not be defined by an individual relationship, but rather his or her love for life, and the living.  We get to see the Doctor over the last 10 seasons breaking down as severely over loss of friendship as loss of romantic love, and just as deeply at the loss off a species as that of the loss of a single life.  This is the Doctor’s strength as a character, and there isn’t anything inherently male or female about that (although if written well a female Doctor may shine brighter in this way).

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Lastly, sexuality.  The doctor has mostly been portrayed as heterosexual, but I would argue that this doesn’t seem like a very strict rule at all.  I don’t care, in the inevitable romances that will occur (hopefully in small doses) whether or not the character is engaged in straight or lesbian relationships, as long as it’s about character, and not sticking with continuity, or sending a message.  The companions are where sexual orientation seems to be best displayed, having had some of each, and the Doctor seems to be beyond that.  So I hope that will remain the case when it comes to the 13th Doctor.

 

Doctor Who: An Introduction to the Whoniverse

Doctor Who, is one of my favorite sci-fi shows, and I wanted to write a little about it now, in case there are any non-Who fan’s that might be interested in getting into it.  I think I may be the only one here at World’s Best Media who is a fan of the Doctor, and so I’ll be your guide to the Whoniverse.

First, I want to let you know a few things about Doctor Who.  The name of the show is a joke, the main character is only known by the name “the Doctor” which often prompts new characters to ask “Doctor Who.”  This will be important because if I refer to “Doctor Who,” I mean the show, and if I refer to “the Doctor” I mean the character.

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Doctor Who first aired November 23rd 1963, and continued until 1989 before being canceled.  There was then a 1996 reboot/continuation movie which failed, and finally a series reboot/continuation in 2005, which is currently still going on.

The Doctor is a time-traveling alien from the planet Gallifrey, and a race known as the Time-Lords.  When the show started, episodes in which they traveled to the past were largely educational teaching history, and when they would travel to the future they would teach about science and technology.  Eventually, the show became more or less, just entertainment.

When the first actor to play the Doctor (William Hartnell) became too ill to continue on the show, the producers had to come up with a way of replacing him, which wouldn’t cause too much disruption to the show itself.  Their idea, was that Time-Lords (not referred to as such until later) were able to ‘regenerate’ into a new body.  This over the last 54 years has allowed for multiple actors playing the Doctor to cross paths, and for the show to go through mini soft reboots of the character every time.  The Doctor isn’t entirely the same man, with the same quirks across multiple bodies, which has allowed for actors to play the character differently, and allows it to remain fresh.

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Now, my own knowledge of Doctor Who, mainly focuses on the series starting in 2005, although I have made a point of watching some episodes from each of the previous incarnations.  As of today, we’re on the 12th version of the Doctor (except for one that was retconned in known as The War Doctor), but on this year’s Christmas special we will get the 13th Doctor, and the first female to play the Doctor.  I’ll talk more about her in a “What I Want to See: Doctor Who” which I’m planning to be out sometime later this month.

Last think you should know about the plot and structure, is the TARDIS, which is the Doctor’s time-machine, space-ship, friend, and occasional lover.  It’s the blue police box that you see at Newbury Comics, or on Facebook.  It is essentially an all-powerful vehicle for the Doctor’s personal use.  Also, it’s bigger on the inside.

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Alright, so know you know the idea of the Doctor, and the tenure of the show, but what I want to talk about is the tone of the show.  The show is very much a serialized show, which follows story archs across episodes and seasons, but the tone is not necessarily.  The tone can vary from episode to episode, in a way that is similar to something more like an anthology.  Some episodes are whimsical and silly, like the works of Douglas Adams (Adams wrote The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, but also wrote for Doctor Who in the 80’s) or more serious and dramatic, showing off the Doctor’s emotional range, and then there are some very scary horror episodes.

I thought it might be helpful, if I recommended some episodes based on these different breakdowns, so you can get a sense not only of the character, but of the different tonal shifts.  It’s kind of a long list, but I’m covering about 10 years (you’re welcome for not trying to cover 54) worth of TV spanning 4 actors.

So here’s the list:

  • Rose- Season 1, episode 1. This episode serves to introduce a new generation to Doctor Who.  It is a little bit goofy, a little bit dramatic, fast paced, and kind of manages to fit so much of what Doctor Who is into an hour. It also starts us off with Christopher Eccleston who is the Ninth version of the Doctor, as well as introducing us to Rose, whom is his companion.  (The Doctor always has a companion, typically a young woman.)
  • Dalek- Season 1, episode 6. This introduces us to the Dalek, which is a race of armored aliens, which are arguably the quintessential Doctor Who villains.  In this episode we also get to see a combination of the Doctor’s wrath as well as the Doctor’s compassion.
  • Father’s Day- Season 1, episode 8. The reason I’m suggesting this one, is that it goes into 2 things that the show really has a great opportunity to do.  They get to tell intricate time-travel stories which are both using the time travel as a plot device, as well as using it as a genuine part of the story.  Also it’s a really touching story of the redemption of a character who wouldn’t have had one without time travel.
  • The Empty Child, The Doctor Dances- Season 1, Episodes 9 and 10. This is a two part story, and it is simultaneously in the top 5 scariest Doctor Who episodes, and a genuinely heart-warming story.  I can’t tell you too much about it without giving away too much, but if you want an idea of how creepy it is, imagine a young child in 1940’s England with a gasmask stuck on his face asking everyone “Are you my mummy?”  I cannot even do an impression of that voice without my wife getting mad at how creeped out she is!

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  • The Christmas Invasion- Season 2, Episode 0. This is the first episode with David Tennant as the Tenth Doctor, and while the plot is somewhat dumb in this episode, it’s a big tonal shift from the previous episodes, and it shows all of the range that David Tennant is going to have as the Doctor. Also it has one of my all-time favorite jokes in the show’s run.
  • Army of Ghosts, Doomsday- Season 2, Episode 12 and 13. Another two part story (Doctor Who loves 2 part stories), is perhaps best watched after having had seasons 1 and 2 fully ingested to appreciate, but there are a lot of memes that you’ll understand better after these episodes.
  • Human Nature and The Family of Blood- Season 3, Episode 8 and 9. This two parter is WWI era, and the Doctor thinks he is a human and not a time-lord.  It shows a huge moral conflict, and some of the more sinister human villains in the show’s run.  This leans on the dramatic/scary side of things.
  • Blink- Season 3, Episode 10. This is a very Doctor-lite episode, and is very much a stand-alone episode, with the only real piece that ever has relevance again being the villains it introduces.  If you’re looking for something scary with an interesting time-travel structure, this is the best episode to start with.  Many people have done lists of Doctor Who episodes, and this is routinely placed as the best single episode, or the best episode to show a non-Who fan to try to show them.  It’s undeniably great.

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  • The Doctor’s Daughter- Season 4, Episode 6. Some of the episodes on this list are cool in a way that can’t fully be explained, and the only thing that I can specifically point to in this episode is the Doctor’s monologue at the end, but it’s an episode on a future planet with a society of people being cloned rapidly, and killed rapidly in a war they don’t even understand.  Honestly, just a cool episode.
  • Silence in the Library and Forest of the Dead- Season 4, Episodes 8 and 9. This episode tells the story of 2 time-travelers, the Doctor, and River Song, who meet while heading in opposite directions via time travel.  I don’t want to tell too much about the structure, but at the time that I watched these episodes, this was the most innovative time-travel concept I had seen, and I think still may be.
  • Midnight- Season 4, episode 10. This is another stand-alone horror episode.  I have only watched it once, because whenever my wife and I rewatch the series, she makes me skip over this one, because it creeps her out too much (I think worse than the gasmasks).  It’s about an alien virus which takes over a human host on a resort planet’s ‘excursion’ to a diamond waterfall.  The whole episode basically takes place in a space version of a tour-bus, and if you’re not genuinely creeped out by it, you should get checked out.
  • The Stolen Earth and Journey’s End- Season 4, episode 12 and 13. It wraps up some story-lines, and it gives characters their moment to shine, and is a bigger deal than when Eccleston left (because he didn’t like doing the show).
  • The Eleventh Hour- Season 5, episode 1. This is your introduction to Matt Smith, the eleventh Doctor, the newest companion (Karen Gillan), and it’s a pretty cool episode.  It tends to land on the goofier end of things, with the new Doctor making lots of goofy jokes, and with a little more sexual humor (nothing too risqué) than most other episodes.  You may not fall in love with the 11th Doctor in this episode, but maybe you’ll fall in love with Amelia Pond.
  • Vincent and the Doctor- Season 5, Episode 10. Honestly, the ‘bad guy/monster’ in this episode isn’t the highlight, in fact 7 times out of 10 on Doctor Who the monster isn’t the highlight, but in this episode the Doctor and Amelia, meet Vincent Van Gogh, and their interactions with him are amazing examples of character work.

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  • The Pandorica Opens and The Big Bang- Season 5, episodes 12 and 13. These two episodes include appearances by nearly every alien race that the Doctor has faced, a really cool time travel structure (this might be the one that trumps the Silence in the Library and The Forest of the Dead), it has huge stakes and the Doctor delivers a kick-ass monologue.  These 2 episodes might be the highlight of Matt Smith as the Doctor.
  • All of Season 6. Matt Smith isn’t a bad doctor, but he comes immediately after arguably the best doctor, and so it takes a little while to fully get on the Matt Smith train.  The 2 part finale of season 5 gets us there, and then season 6 has an over-arching story that is the best season in the shows run.  I can’t really emphasize enough that this whole season is a gem.  You have the doctor thinking he’s a cowboy, you start off the season and end the season in roughly the same place, with something catastrophic happening, and the whole season fills in the blanks of how you get there.  There are guest appearances by Richard Nixon, and one of the creepiest new alien races that the Doctor has to face off against.  Sorry, can’t give you any specific episodes.  I will however, tell you to skip all of season 7 to make up for the abundance of episodes I’m throwing at you.
  • Time Heist- Season 8, episode 5. Does the title not sell you on it?  It’s a time-travel heist film in just an hour! It’s the first on my list featuring the twelfth Doctor, Peter Capaldi.  That’s all you’re getting.
  • Flatline- Season 8, episode 9. Honestly, just a really cool Twilight Zone style scifi episode, where the concept is the selling point.  Basically, due to dimensional breakdown (like 3D turning into 2D) the Doctor is trapped in his TARDIS, and his newest companion Clara, has to help him get out.
  • The Husbands of River Song- Season 9, episode 13. This ends up being a companion piece to The Silence in the Library and The Forest of the Dead, but I can’t tell you anymore, because of “Spoilers!”
  • Pilot- Season 10, episode 1. This is an episode which introduces us to another new companion, Bill (Pearl Mackie) and it might be the saddest episode, but character-wise it’s incredible.  Bill, a young lesbian woman living in a foster home as a young adult, is just about the saddest and loneliest character the show has.
  • Extremis- Season 10, episode 6. This has some amazing work by both Peter Capaldi and Pearl Mackie, as well as Matt Lucas who plays Nardole.  Matt Lucas as Nardole plays off as almost a perfect impression of the Doctor, but he’s almost always relegated to manning the TARDIS.  I suspect he was cast because he would make an excellent Doctor if it weren’t for all of the physical toll that the role entails (both Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi had to have knee surgery from all of the running.)

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With that, you’ll have an idea of what the show is.  I do recommend watching in its entirety, but if you’re just looking to get an idea and start off before Jodie Whitaker takes over the role, these are my suggestions.