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Doctor Who: Earthshock – My Introduction to Doctor Who

Doctor Who: Earthshock DVDSince this is the 50th anniversary for Doctor Who, I thought I might review the episode that was my introduction to the franchise — Doctor Who: Earthshock. I was in high school at the time and one Saturday night, the store I worked at was pretty dead, so the assistant manager in charge let a whole bunch of us go home early. Since there wasn’t much happening at the usual hangout spots, I did the unthinkable and decided to go home, planning to read a book. Instead, I found my siblings gathered to watch Doctor Who, which I was vaguely aware of, so I thought, “What the heck, I’ll watch too.”

Thus began my love for this long running, British sci-fi series. Back in the late 80’s, the FX weren’t any worse than the classic Star Trek being shown in syndication. And Earthshock is a very powerful episode to introduce one to the goodness of Doctor Who.

BTW, if you want to buy the DVD (and it has lots of extras on it), you can do so here:

***SPOILER SUMMARY***

01 Troopers prepare to searchA squad of military troopers there to rescue some scientists who’d been trapped underground, but there’s only one survivor. The squad heads down to investigate, where they encounter the Doctor and some of his companions, accusing them of causing the problems. An attack by two androids soon proves the Doctor’s innocence, but after destroying an android and forcing the other to retreat, the Doctor discovers what they were protecting — a massive bomb, being sent signals from somewhere in space.
02 Doctor takes on passengersAfter disarming the bomb, the Doctor reluctantly agrees to allow the surviving troopers and lone scientist to accompany him as he tracks the signal to a freighter bound for Earth. After materializing the TARDIS in the ship’s cargo hold, the Doctor and Adric set out to get noticed. Unfortunately, they come upon two dead security officers and are accused of murder. Despite the bullheaded ship’s captain not wanting to stop for anything, the real culprits are revealed — the Cybermen, who quickly overcome the ship’s security force and take over the ship.

03 Cyber Leader and the DoctorDespite having been thwarted when the Doctor deactivated their bomb, the Cybermen are moving forward with plan B, whereby the freighter crashes into Earth, killing delegates at a conference being held to address the Cybermen problem. With a cyber device in control of the freighter, Cyber Leader decides to have the Doctor take them to safety on the Tardis while the cyber forces activate and leave. Adric is left behind with the survivors of the ship’s crew, and he manages to overcome two of the three lockouts of the cyber device. This causes the freighter to shift back in time, causing Cyber Leader to force the Doctor to have the Tardis follow.

04 making plansLt. Scott and his few remaining troopers overcome the Cybermen guards to rescue Adric and the crew so they can escape. Adric, who was frustrated over not cracking the third lock of the cyber device, suddenly has a solution and returns to the bridge alone. However, his efforts are thwarted when a damaged Cyberman blasts the navigation console.  The freighter is now 65 million years in the past when it crashes and explodes on Earth, revealed to be the cause of the extinction of the dinosaurs.

Review:

The nice thing about viewing Earthshock on PBS back in the day is that all four parts of the episode were shown back-to-back. Thus, I didn’t have to wait week after week to see what would happen. Awesome.

x01 talking with Cyber Leader

As an entry point into the Doctor Who franchise back in the late 80’s, this was an excellent one to do so.  For starters, we have a classic Doctor Who foe in the Cybermen. Further to that, this episode has a montage to previous Doctors when the Cyber Leader briefs his lieutenant on what they are up against. Further, there were numerous reference to earlier episodes which gave the a glimpse of how huge this universe of Doctor Who truly is, but also piqued my curiosity to know about E-Space, Romana, and the like.  As I think back, I realize this was likely the point to where I began to prefer serial TV series rather than episodic TV series.

x02 Playing recording of first Doctor

The story is quite dark, much more than I had expected as a teenager, but I think that darkness is partially what has made it still such an enjoyable episode for me to this day. You have the scientific team having been wiped out with a lone survivor. You have a military squad sent underground to try to find out what happened and who was responsible. You have something stalking the team and killing some of its members in gruesome ways. Of course, the ending of the episode makes this one of the darkest (if not the darkest) Doctor Who episode ever made.  More on that in a bit.

x03 Androids attack

Part 1 sets up this false notion that the antagonist of this episode will be a couple of mysterious androids. So at the end of part 1 when it is revealed that the Cybermen are actually pulling the strings from a safe distance away from Earth, it is a nice surprise. Part 2 has the nice montage of the previous Doctors, but other than having to deactivate the bomb and get to the freighter, not a whole lot goes on here. Part 3 picks things up when the Cybermen reveal themselves to the Doctor and company and there’s a desperate fight to try to prevent them from taking over the ship. Part 4 then wraps things up nicely by having the Cybermen succeeding everywhere, only to have their plans thwarted by the freighter suddenly entering a time warp thanks to Adric’s intervention.

x04 Cybermen revealed

I liked this idea that the object that struck Earth and killed off the dinosaurs over 65 million years ago was in fact a freighter from the future, which had been turned into a flying bomb to try to destroy Earth of the future. The Cyber Leader was pleased when he heard that the freighter was traveling back in time because he’d be destroying Earth at an earlier point in its history, thus changing time, thus removing humans from thwarting Cybermen plans and making the Cybermen a more powerful force.  When Cyber Leader learns that all that’s going to happen is make sure history happens as it should, it was as if I could actually see the face of the Cyber Leader fall, a tribute to the acting skills of David Banks, who is the best Cyberman ever, even over the new Cybermen.  Yeah, I know Cybermen aren’t supposed to have emotions, but there’s just something about the way David played the role that I just loved and miss today.

x05 watching the freighter

Then there’s Adric. Although this was the first episode I’d watched for Doctor Who, it was obvious that Adric had been with the Doctor for quite some time.  He wasn’t some unnamed, “red shirt” dude waiting to be killed.  As such, there was no way I thought he was going to die. As I watched the episode, I thought, “What sort of last second thing will happen to save him? The Doctor does have a time machine, so maybe that’s what will happen.”  So I was in a state of disbelief when the freighter blew up, the Doctor, Nyssa, and Tegan were acting as if they’d witnessed a horrific tragedy, and then the episode ends with no music and Adric’s broken badge against a black background.

x06 Adric

That really had an impact on how I viewed Doctor Who. Without a massive history of “The Doctor and his companions always come through OK,” every episode I watched afterward that took place after Earthshock had me wonder if the companion would be killed when their life became in danger. It was a brilliant move.

x07 Nyssa

While this episode is mostly very good in terms of story, action, and drama, there are elements that aren’t so good. The freighter captain, played by Beryl Reid, comes across as absolutely clueless and unbelievable. Even as a teenager, I wondered, “How’d this old lady get to be a ship’s captain anyway when she seems as dumb as rocks?”  (As an aside, I loved her character in the movie Yellowbeard.)

x08 Freighter captain

The other weak element was with the Cybermen and their activations. As I understood it, this freighter’s cargo was a legion (or however many) of Cybermen in their tubes. Yet even as the freighter is going on its way to a fiery death, Cyber Leader orders the activations to continue and Cybermen bust out of their containers. I remember thinking that once the ship had been taken over, all of the Cybermen should have been activated immediately, then evacuated. As it was, it seemed silly that Cybermen are being activated at the literal last moment.

x09 Cyber Leader and Doctor

I loved the joke made about the caverns in part 1 being lit when there were no lights around. It is one of those things that stuck with me from that day forward.  After all, when one goes underground, there’s no light, but obviously since the audience needs to see the characters, these caves are always mysteriously lit. Well, this episode gives an answer to how pitch black caves are lit up and a laugh to boot (at least for me).

x10 lights in the dark

For the DVD, there are some nice things here. The entire 4-part episode has commentary by Peter Davison (The Doctor), Janet Fielding (Tegan), Sarah Sutton (Nyssa), and Matthew Waterhouse (Adric).  There’s an information text option that has popup text blurbs to note trivia things or other things of interest, which I really liked. The featurette Putting the Shock Into Earthshock gives some great info on what went into making this episode, why Adric was forced to leave, and the like. There’s a humorous but short Claymation “episode 5” that suggests Adric actually survived the crash into Earth, only to meet his end by another means. There are other extras as well, but these were the best of the lot.

x11 Adric tries to unlock controls

Doctor Who: Earthshock was a great episode to introduce me to the world of Doctor Who, which I have remained a fan of ever since. It also made Peter Davison “my Doctor”, which is why the 2007 Time Crash special mini-episode is so awesome to me. When David Tennant’s Doctor said, “You were my Doctor,” I was right there with him. ^_^

x12 Fifth Doctor

Doctor Who S04 E03

Planet of the Ood

SPOILER Summary: The Doctor and Donna travel to a random time and place in the galaxy and end up in the 42nd Century during the 2nd Great and Bountiful Human Empire. They come upon a dying Ood who briefly has the same red eyes of possession the Doctor had previously seen. Bluffing their way into a presentation for potential buyers of Ood, the Doctor and Donna discover that things aren’t going that well for this slave-race, or their human owners. With the Doctor being able to now hear their song of captivity, he decides to try to free the Ood as more and more of them go insane. The Doctor soon learns that the Ood have three brains — one in their skull, one they hold in their hands, and a giant, collective brain. The removal of the held brain is how the humans enslave them and the giant brain is kept in a field to interrupt its telepathic ability. However, in the end, the field around the giant brain is lowered and the Ood are freed, thanks to the Doctor’s efforts.

Thoughts: I had some problems with this episode, namely in the ultimate design of the Ood. Think about it for a moment. They have a brain in their skull, then they carry a mini-brain around in their hands, and finally there’s a giant brain. So, assuming the giant brain has some method of protecting itself (which didn’t appear to be the case but for the reasons of discussion, we’ll assume so) and the Ood have to protect their mini-brains by carefully holding them, how do the Ood do ANYTHING without causing their mini-brain serious damage? Seriously, this is one huge design flaw and frankly, the Ood should have gone extinct.

OK, so they can easily survive without the mini-brain, where (how convenient), humans figured out that they could cut off that brain and just install a translator on a tube. Isn’t that lovely?

Of course, we have to get preached to on the evils of slavery. The episode tried to push over the fact that the Doctor wasn’t that concerned over the Ood slavery issue on the previous encounter because he was too occupied dealing with “Satan,” but I suppose they felt that the Doctor needed to free millions of beings after having to allow 20,000 humans dies in the previous episode. Everything just felt forced, preachy, and I just didn’t care.

The one bit of interest was the Ood telling the Doctor that one day, his song must end. I’m not sure what that implies, but it does seem to throw out a possible regeneration (which I’ve not heard about, but I’ve not been reading up either) or something. I don’t think it means the end of the series even though I’ve read that next year, there will be no series but rather a few TV movies, which is rather a bummer.

The episode reminded me that I’m getting older. I kept thinking I recognized the actor playing Klineman Halpen but was surprised when I learned it the character was played by Tim McInnerny, whom I’ve seen countless times in the various Blackadder British comedy series. Also, Roger Griffiths (Everton in the British comedy Chef!) was also in this episode, looking much older as the security head Commander Kess.

Next week: the return of Martha and a classic Doctor Who villain — the Sontarans.

Doctor Who S04 E02

The Fires of Pompeii

SPOILER Summary: The Doctor and Donna arrive in what he says is ancient Rome, but an earthquake and Mt. Vesuvius tells him this is Pompeii. As the TARDIS has been “sold” to a man named Caecilius. Arriving there to get the TARDIS back, the Doctor and Donna are in time to meet one Dextrus, the town augur, who’s had Caecilius build what looks like a circuit board of marble. They learn that Caecilius’s daughter Evelina (a prophetess set to join the Sibylline Sisterhood) and Dextrus accurately identify the Doctor as being from Gallifrey and a Lord of Time. With Donna wanting to save the people of Pompeii (something the Doctor refuses to do) and not taking no for an answer, the Doctor pays the Sibylline Sisterhood a visit, to discover their chief priestess turned to stone and being possessed by someone from the race known as Pyrovile (a stone people). Going underground, the Doctor and Donna discover the stranded Pyrovile, who want to make Earth their new home. Given the choice of 20,000 deaths vs. the entire world, Donna finally understands and they throw the switch to destroy Pompeii (causing Vesuvius to errupt). Donna asks the Doctor to save at least one person, so he saves Caecilius’s family as that won’t change history.

Thoughts: This was a pretty good episode, more so than last week’s for sure. I understand Donna wanting to save Pompeii because that is an emotional response. Her argument for the Doctor saving Earth when he met her the first time is a reasonable one. I liked how the writers tied the destruction of Pompeii back to the loss of Gallifrey and how the Doctor cannot (apparently) change that outcome either. Donna, while still being a mule head at times, is still much better than she was in the Christmas special with her deciding to help the Doctor throw the switch to destroy Pompeii. I liked that as well.

The joke about the TARDIS translator and Donna trying to speak Latin to the Romans at Pompeii was amusing. However, I figure that IF Donna actually knew Latin, the translator wouldn’t be required, would it? She should be able to speak and the other people understand her. So while the joke is amusing, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to me in a “realistic” sense (given that this is a work of fiction).

The whole “Doctor is a deity” thing came up again. It is not an aspect I’m that keen on, but it is interesting to say the least.

Doctor Who S04 E01

30th season from the beginning…

Partners in Crime

SPOILER Summary: The Doctor is investigating a new anti-fat pill from Adipose Industries while former companion Donna Noble does the same, hoping to once again meet the Doctor and this time join him on his journeys. While this new pill does indeed reduce fat, it does so by causing the fat to form into a blockish body, the infants of a race known as the Adipose. When company head (and nanny) Miss Foster discovers the Doctor is onto her, she accellerates plans so that instead of just fat, those who’ve taken the pill will now have their entire bodies coverted into Adipose, forcing the Doctor and Donna to try to end the process lest many people die.

Thoughts: This is an OK episode. When I heard that Donna was returning, I was not thrilled. Catherine Tate annoyed me to no end in “The Runaway Bride” with how Donna was played. Ugh. However, her acting is toned back a bit for this episode, and she becomes a more likable person, though with those traits seen originally still there. At least now they aren’t in ones face all the time.

There was a bit of comedy with the Doctor and Donna miming a conversation to each other. The biggest “win” moment for me (SPOILER y’all) is when Rose was in the crowd after the events observing, then after Donna speaks to her (not knowing who she is of course), Rose walks away and disappears. That’s some intriguing bit of table setting for sure.

Otherwise, this episode is just too kiddie for my tastes. It is one I can see fast-forwarding through when the series comes out on DVD.

Doctor Who Children in Need: Time Crash

*SPOILERS*

I rather enjoyed the Children in Need 2005 special because it added a little more to when the Doctor regenerated and Rose having to deal with that. It was a nice little fan moment that didn’t fit into the Christmas Special that year, but does fit onto the 2nd series DVD. So when I heard there was going to be a Children in Need special for this year, I was interested but hadn’t bothered to do any research on it. As such, when I saw the episode, I squealed like a fanboy.

This mini-episode inserts itself between the 3rd and 4th series, specifically into the end of the final episode last series where Martha is leaving the TARDIS, but before the Titanic apparently crashes into it. Doctor-10 forgets to put up the TARDIS shields and as such, accidentally crashes into an earlier version of himself — Doctor 5 (ah, good old Peter Davison). Doctor 10 beams about seeing his earlier self and even has an explanation for not only why Doctor 5 looks older, grayer, has less hair, and is slightly bigger around the middle, but also why they have so few minutes together.

Doctor 5 is working to try to fix the mess, even remarking on the change of the console room. When Doctor 10 tries to explain who he is, Doctor 5 assumes he is some big fan, since the Doctor has done all these wonderful things and naturally would draw fans. The Cloister Bell brings Doctor 10 into action and he quickly manages to fix the mess. It is then that Doctor 5 realizes who he’s dealing with and how Doctor 10 had managed to avert catastrophe so quickly. I loved how Doctor 10 waxed on at how Doctor 5 was his favorite, because Peter Davison was always my favorite Doctor as well in addition to being the first Doctor I ever saw.

The episode managed to name-drop Nyssa and Tigan, and even had the two briefly gossip about the Master. Apparently, it is a gay joke where Doctor 5 asks if the Master still has that daft beard but Doctor 10 mentions he has a wife. Apparently, “beard” is a gay slang for a homosexual who pretends to have a wife or girlfriend to disguise he’s gay. I didn’t know the Master was supposed to be gay, but apparently, many of our British cousins have believed this for ages and so there you go. I think these people are just desperate to have gay stuff forced on the rest of us, much like there was pressure to do so in the new Battlestar Galactica.

This mini-episode was pure fanservice with the return of Peter Davison’s Doctor. While the show’s executive producer has long voiced opposition to having a multi-Doctor episode, I guess that this was his way of tossing a bone to the fans since it is considered official canon to the Doctor Who story. The writer, Peter Moffat, again shows why he is a great Doctor Who writer with a good understanding of the past Doctor’s in addition to an understanding of the present Doctor, to say nothing of understanding what will get fans going.

Doctor Who S03 E03 (S29) *SPOILERS*

Gridlock

As Sally Calypso gives a traffic report, a car with Ma and Pa are under attack and call the cops. Ma is upset because Pa lied that they had three on board, but as they are on hold, their car is apparently destroyed.

On the TARDIS, the Doctor stretches the definition of “one trip” to include one in the future. He asks about a different planet and Martha suggests his planet (Gallifrey). He doesn’t really want to but upon asking him about his home planet, he give a description of the planet (matching the one given by his granddaughter Susan in the first Doctor’s adventure, “The Sensorites“). Martha really wants to go, but the Doctor says that is no fun for him, and takes her to the year 5,000,000,053 and to New Earth, specifically New New York (where he’d been twice before with Rose).

Novice Hame, still in the service of the Face of Boe, is told by Boe that the Doctor has arrived. He asks her to find him before its too late, and taking a gun, she takes off.

Meanwhile, the Doctor and Martha get out of the rain and the Doctor activates a monitor, where they see the surface of New Earth, where he’d come before. He reasons they are in the under city and states that this is where all the fun is. Martha asks if he took Rose here before and he confirms he did. She’s a bit offended that he’s taking her to the same planets he took Rose, which the Doctor sees nothing wrong with.

People in booths start opening shop, trying to sell emotions to the Doctor and Martha. A young depressed-looking woman walks up and decides to buy “forget.” She tells of her mother and father going to the motorway and not coming back. The Doctor cannot persuade the young woman who attached the “forget” patch to her neck and forgets about her parents going to the motorway. Before he can do more, a young couple kidnap Martha and carry her away, apologizing all the time. They put her to sleep and drive off in their hover van with a very angry Doctor unable to do anything. The couple, in car 465-Diamond-6, now have three people on board and so request permission to hit the fast lane, which they are given.

The Doctor talks with the mood merchants, who state that at one time, the streets used to be full of people, but no longer. In the end, everyone goes to the motorway. The Doctor gets directions on how to get to the motorway, but before he leaves, he warns them to pack up and close shop because when he returns with a safe Martha, he will close them down.

In 465-Diamond-6, Martha comes to and takes off the sleep patch. The couple talks of the great life that awaits them at their destination. The girl, Cheen, apologizes again and states that they needed Martha to get to the fast lane. She promises she and her companion Milo will release her when they reach their destination. As proof, she shows the honesty patch she’s wearing. Martha asks about the fog outside, which Cheen says is exhaust fumes. Milo states they are going to Brooklyn where the air is fresh and clean. Cheen is pregnant but Martha isn’t impressed. The trip is only 10 miles, but it will take 6-years to reach there even with the fast lane access due to the massive amounts of traffic.

The Doctor exits to where the motorway is and sees tons of hovering vans not moving. A Feline (cat humaniod) encourages the coughing Doctor to come into his vehicle, which he does. Getting some air from the Feline’s human wife Valerie, the Feline, Thomas, asks about the Doctor. He states he’s looking for his companion and is stunned that they’ve been in traffic for 12-years, only covering 5-miles.

With Cheen and Milo descending to the fast lane, Cheen explains how the car is able to produce its own fuel and how all waste is recycled for food, explaining how all these vans can be out here for so many years. Meanwhile, the Doctor enlists the help of “the Sisters” (an elderly lesbian couple) through Thomas, one of whom has the hobby of car spotting and keeps detailed records of all cars entering and exiting the motorway. She knows the car the Doctor mentions but Thomas doesn’t want to go to the fast lane due to the rumors of what happens down there. Valerie states they aren’t going to risk the children (kittens). The Doctor asks the sisters when they came to the motorway 23-years ago. The Doctor asks if they have ever seen a police car or other official vehicle, but they haven’t and the idea bothers them and the Brannigan’s. Thomas reasons that the city above them has to be there and they can’t be forgotten. And as they stay in traffic, Sally Calypso comes on the monitor and the hymn “Old Rugged Cross” plays, with everyone singing and getting emotional.

Cheen and Milo make it down to the fast lane and the Doctor decides to make it down. He opens a floor panel, giving his coat to them, he drops to the car below. Entering that car, he calls himself “Motorway Foot Patrol” and gets a complain about an exit being closed for three years. Repeating the process, he descends down. Meanwhile, on the fast lane, the trio hear noises and that can’t be explained. Milo feels there is a logical explanation and not the superstitious one Cheen tells. Another car calls them, warning them of the dangers on the fast lane. Apparently, all the exits to the surface from the fast lane are always closed and that they need to go up. Milo is reluctant to listen to her and as the woman screams and roars are heard, Martha tells Milo to just go.

Meanwhile, the Doctor reaches the last layer before the fast lane. The man in a nice suit won’t go to the fast lane because of the rule of needing three people. The Doctor opens his hatch and through the fog is able to see what is causing the strange noises — a giant crab-like species known as the Macra. Apparently they’d been an intelligent species once, but had de-evolved. Meanwhile, the car with Martha, Milo, and Cheen is under attack and Martha reasons that if they stop the car the giant crabs won’t be able to find them. The only problem is that they won’t have much air if the car is shut down. But Milo shuts off the vehicle and the are no longer under attack.

Back in the “suit” car, Novice Hame arrives and after some small talk, teleports the Doctor to where the Face of Boe is. After learning of the catastrophe that happened on the surface (a massive virus that killed everyone save those sealed in the city below) and how Boe was the only thing keeping the city below functioning, the Doctor assists to release the people below now that the virus has also died. He opens up the exits and through the communication system, orders everyone to exit. Milo and Cheen as well as the rest of the motorist see the sky for the first time in years and everyone flies up to exit, Milo having to elude the Macra one final time to get out of their reach.

The container holding the Face of Boe breaks and Boe is dying. After Milo and Cheen drop Martha off to be with the Doctor, Martha comes up in time to hear Boe’s dying words to the Doctor — “Know this, Time Lord, you are not alone.” As Martha and return to the TARDIS, Martha demands an explanation and the Doctor finally tells her he’s the last of the Time Lords and the Time War in which his people sacrificed everything to defeat the Daleks.

Thoughts: While the episode was entertaining, afterwards I thought, “how stupid are these people?” Seriously, to willingly be in a traffic jam for decades is absolutely insane. Still, it was the words of the Face of Boe that most Doctor Who fans were most interested in hearing. There are lots of theories about this, and lots of speculation about what exactly it could mean.

Doctor Who S03 E02 (S29) *SPOILERS*

The Shakespeare Code

A young bard professes his love for a young lady below her bedroom window one fine eve, and the young lady invites him to her room. After a kiss, the young lady turns into a witch, and summers her companions Mother Dewfinger and Mother Bloodtide. The three then proceed to kill the young bard.

Meanwhile in the TARDIS, a bumpy ride causes Martha to question whether the Doctor had to get a license to fly the thing. He says he did, but he failed. With that, they land in 1599 England. Martha is filled with wonder at this, but worries about about being black in this time since slavery still existed. The Doctor tells her to walk about like they own the place and two black (and apparently free) women walk by. After a near-miss by the then modern-plumbing (toss it out the window), the two head to the Globe Theater and catch a play from Shakespeare. After the play, Martha says it was worth putting up with the smell and wants to see Shakespeare come out. He soon does and as he talks of the sequel to “Love’s Labor’s Lost” which will be “Love’s Labor’s Won.” After mentioning it will come out eventually, the young witch, Lilith, uses a doll to force Shakespeare into stating the first performance will be tomorrow night.

The Doctor and Martha discuss this sequel, which history only mentions but no manuscript was ever found. They head to a nearby inn where Shakespeare is working with some companions as they mention their concerns over this new play as Lilith, in human form, is there working. The Doctor arrives with Martha, and after looking at Martha, Shakespeare decides they can stay. After sending his companions away, the Doctor whips out his psychic paper and introduces himself as Sir Doctor of TARDIS. Shakespeare only sees a blank piece of paper while Martha sees exactly what the Doctor wants, showing that Shakespeare is indeed very sharp. Shakespeare continues to hit on Martha, and the Doctor explains that she’s from Freedonia.

The Master of the Revels arrives and is unhappy with Shakespeare’s announced new play since he hasn’t approved it. Since Shakespeare can’t produce a completed script, the Master of the Revels announces tomorrows performance is canceled. Because this interferes with the witches’ plan, Lilith (in human form) manages to snip some hair from the master. She informs her mothers of what is going on and they aid her in a spell whereby the Master of the Revels dies by drowning and heart stoppage, only without actually being in the water. The Doctor gives the mistress of the inn a 16th-century plausible explanation for the man’s death so that there isn’t panic about witchcraft. However, he confides to Martha that indeed this is witchcraft.

At their residence, the two mother witches give Lilith a potion so that Shakespeare will complete “Love’s Labor’s Won” in time for tomorrow nights performance, apparently needing his genius. Meanwhile, the mistress provides the Doctor and Martha a room in the inn while Shakespeare wonders in Freedonia, a woman can become a doctor and how the Doctor can look so young but have eyes so old. Martha and the Doctor retire to their room where the Doctor frets over the situation. The Doctor mentions that it looks like witchcraft, but it isn’t (meaning alien influence). As they lay in bed together, the Doctor mentions Rose which bothers Martha.

At Shakespeare’s room, Lilith unleashes fumes from her potion and controls Shakespeare into using his genius to think and write the final lines of the play. When the mistress of the inn comes in to check on Shakespeare, Lilith reveals her true form causing the mistress to die of fright. The Doctor and Martha rush over, where Martha sees Lilith fly away in classic witch style. Shakespeare is in his own mind again, and with Martha and the Doctor, they discuss the situation with the witches. Shakespeare recalls the architect of the Globe Theater, Peter Streete, spoke of witches before being sent to the mad house.

At the Globe Theater, the Doctor ponders over the 14 sides to the building and the meaning. After speaking of the power of words, the Doctor and company head off to the mad house (Bethlem Hospital, aka: Bedlam Asylum) with Shakespeare handing the completed manuscript to two of his actors. They look over the script, remarking on how sequels are never as good and as they look at the final lines, they are puzzled. Still, the actor playing The King of Navarre has those lines and begins to speak them. As a wind begins to pick up within the Globe, they see a creature they presume to be a spirit who then vanishes.

At Bedlam, the Doctor, Martha, and Shakespeare go to see Peter as Martha notes the deplorable conditions of the place. “Sir Doctor” is easily allowed in and the Doctor uses his abilites to stabilize Peter’s mental condition. Peter tells the story of the witches. This is felt by Lilith, who sends Doomfinger to put an end to it. She kills Peter but before she can kill the Doctor, the doctor figures out who they are — Carrionites. Since words and names have power, the Doctor saying the name of her species causes Doomfinger to teleport back to her residence at All Hallows Street. This causes the three Carrionites concern for which Lilith states she’ll take care of it while the mothers go to the Globe.

Meanwhile, the Doctor, Martha, and Shakespeare discuss the Carrionites and current events to include the strange lines Shakespeare wrote at the end of his new play. The Doctor realizes the Carrionites plan and sends Shakespeare to stop the play while the Doctor and Martha head to All Hallows Street. Shakespeare tries to stop the play, but the Doomfinger and Bloodtide from their balcony seats stop him. The play continues as the Doctor explains the trouble they are in, using the movie Back to the Future as a reference (with how modern times changed due to changing the past). The Carrionite home’s door opens and upon entering, Lilith is waiting. She knocks Martha out with words but can’t kill her due to Martha being out of her time-stream. After mentioning that the Eternals found the right word to banish them, Lilith manages to get a bit of the Doctor’s hair and with that, stops his heart. She leaves thinking him dead, but since the Doctor has two hearts, he’s still alive. Using her medical skills and some coaching by the Doctor, Martha gets the other heart going again.

Rushing to the Globe, the Doctor and Martha are dismayed to see that Shakespeare had not stopped the play since the spell in the final lines had been spoken and the Carrionites were beginning to come through. Knowing the power of Shakespeare’s words, the Doctor has him improvise some lines that will send the Carrionites back to the place of banishment. As he struggles to find the final word, Martha suggests “Expelliarmus,” which is used in Harry Potter. The word spoken, the Carrionites are banished again, and the three Carrionites are ensnared within their “magic globe.” This globe is then taken by the Doctor.

The next day as Shakespeare flirts with Martha, Queen Elizabeth arrives. The Doctor is initially excited to meet her, but she’s not happy to see him, calling him her sworn enemy. Her guards pursue the Doctor and Martha to the TARDIS with Martha wondering what he’d done to make the queen angry. He says he’s never met her yet, which is the great thing about time travel. As they close the door to the TARDIS, and arrow hits the TARDIS door and embeds itself.

Thoughts

This was a really enjoyable episode until the resolution which was a bit cheesy if you ask me. There were at least two references to the Doctor Who story “Silver Nemesis” with the 7th Doctor’s line about acting like they own the place and the arrow at the end. I was also interested in hearing the Eternals mentioned since they were in the 5th Doctor’s story “Enlightenment.” Searching around, there are other Doctor Who references as well that I didn’t catch.

The joke about the 7th Harry Potter book was somewhat amusing considering the hype that novel is getting. I liked how the Doctor used Back to the Future to explain the perils of time travel. I’m not sure if this is a reference or not, but it also seemed to me that the writer of this episode, Gareth Roberts, may also be a fan of the CLAMP manga xxxHOLiC. I say this because the Doctor has his speech about the power of words and the power of a name. This is something the Time-Space Witch known as Yuuko-san has repeatedly stated in xxxHOLiC. However, at this point, I don’t know if there is an official reference to that or not, but I like to think there is since that’s a favorite manga of mine.

Still, as I said, I rather enjoyed the episode despite the cheesy resolution and I liked the various references to other Doctor Who stories. The Face of Boa comes back next week. ^_^

Doctor Who S03 E01 (S29) *SPOILERS*

I decided to add a new feature to the ramblings — a review of the lovely new Doctor Who series airing in Great Britain. Be warned, there will be SPOILERS!

Smith and Jones

A young woman makes her way to the Royal Hope Hospital while taking several phone calls from her family members. She encounters the Doctor, who makes a point of taking off his tie and talking to her. As she goes to enter the hospital, she’s run into by a person wearing black leather and a black motorcycle helmet. At her locker, she takes a nasty static discharge from the metal.

This woman, Martha Jones, is training to be a doctor and is making rounds with her other classmates with Dr. Stoker. One of the patients is an older woman who has a salt deficiency. Another patient they visit is the Doctor, who Martha mentions having seen though he denies it. She listens to the Doctor’s heart and discovers the two hearts. When Dr. Stroker asks her about him, she plays off what she’s heard, leading to a little ridicule on his part. When Dr. Stroker takes the Doctor’s chart, he’s hit with a static electric charge. The Doctor ends up telling the tale of Benjamin Franklin and how he was there when Mr. Franklin discovered electricity. Dr. Stroker orders psychiatric care for the Doctor, known in the hospital as John Smith.

During a break, Martha is again on the phone talking with her sister, who’s outside a mile or so outside the hospital, notices a storm building up right over the hospital. Its starts raining, but the weird thing is that that the rain is not falling but rising. After what appears to be a violent earthquake, people look outside and find themselves on the surface of the moon with Earth on the horizon. This leads to mass panic within the hospital while on Earth, there’s naught but a crater where the hospital was.

Martha is taking this sudden trip to the moon better than most and goes to open a window to look out better. One of her fellow students protests this, but Martha notes that the windows aren’t air tight and they haven’t suffocated yet. Therefore, there has to be air. The Doctor arrives and remarks on how brilliant Martha’s reasoning is. He asks if there is a balcony they can go out to and Martha takes him to it. There is air there and the Doctor discovers that the hospital is encased in a force field. Despite everything, Martha marvels that they are on the moon, and finds it amazing and beautiful.

When Martha asks what the Doctor thinks happen, he turns the question around on her. She states aliens must have done it based on recent events such as the space ship crashing into Big Ben, the Christmas deal, and the Cybermen, where her cousin Adeola disappeared. The Doctor introduces himself properly and they are interrupted when three cylinder spacecraft land on the moon. A large number of troops emerge from the ships, which the Doctor identifies as Judoon, a mercenary police force.

In the hospital, Dr. Stoker encounters the older lady patient (Finnegan), who turns out to be an alien in need of his blood. She produces a straw and with her two henchmen (the black leather-clad people) known as Slabs, she proceeds to consume this doctor. The Judoon (looking like rhino’s), begin scanning all the people, marking those confirmed as human with an X. They will kill anyone who tries to get in their way and when one person attacks them, they kill him.

Meanwhile, the Doctor discovers that the Judoon have wiped the hospital’s computer records, so the Doctor can’t easily determine who they are looking for. Martha goes to find Dr. Stoker, but finds Finnegan still drinking his blood. Figuring this is the alien, she leaves the room, pursued by one of the Slabs. The Doctor leads this Slab to the x-ray room, where he modifies the x-ray machine with his sonic screwdriver to make it a weapon. When the Slab breaks through, Martha activates the x-ray machine which kills the slab and destroys his sonic screwdriver. The Doctor absorbs the excess radiation in the room and expells it into his shoe, which he throws out. Martha figures the Doctor to be mad, so the Doctor tosses his other shoe into the trash as well.

The Doctor realizes Finnegan’s plan — to assimilate the human blood to fool the Judoon scanners. Sure enough, she passes the Judoon scan and they continue the search. The Judoon soon find the Doctor and ID him as an alien, leading the Doctor and Martha to run. They return to a floor already cleared by the Judoon since they won’t come back to recheck, being logical but thick. The oxygen is running out and the Doctor comes to Dr. Stoker’s office. He is dead, drained of all his blood.

The Judoon arrive on the floor and the Doctor needs the Judoon to be delayed. As such, he gives Martha a deep kiss before taking off. He comes to the MRI room where he sees Finnegan modifying the MRI machine. The Judoon scan Martha and discover alien traces with her. They do a deeper scan as the Doctor plays semi-dumb and encourages Finnegan to state that she’s building a weapon that will kill everything except for for 250,000 miles. That means, the light side of Earth will be wiped out as well. As they talk, the Doctor mentions the aliens are going to a level 2 scan. This causes Finnegan to pull out the straw and start drinking the Doctor’s blood because she feels this will keep her safe from the Judoon scans.

The Judoon enter the room and find the Doctor dead, so they consider the case closed. Martha tries to convince them to scan Finnegan, but they aren’t interested. So Martha does it for them, seeing that the Doctor gave his life to unmask Finnegan. They see that Finnegan is an alien and the one they were looking for. Finnegan confesses to this, seeing she’s been revealed, but activates her MRI weapon. The Judoon kill Finnegan and evacuate once they realize they are in danger. Martha performs CPR on the Doctor and manages to bring him round just as the last of the air is running out. The Doctor is without his sonic screwdriver, which causes him to say, “Oh, the sonic…” (which sounded an awful lot like “Ah! Smeg!”) The Doctor is still able to disable the MRI weapon, and carrying the unconsious Martha, he comes to the window to observe the Judoon leaving. However, it begins to rain and the Judoon return the hospital to its proper place on Earth.

In the aftermath, the Doctor leaves and disappears in the TARDIS. That evening, Martha’s family gets together with Martha’s dad bringing his white girlfriend. This causes a verbal fight with the family going their separate ways. Martha spots the Doctor, and going to where he disappeared behind a building, she sees him waiting in front of the police box. They talk and while she’s ready to believe him an alien, she’s not sold that he’s a Time Lord and can travel in time. So he takes off in the TARDIS to prove it, returning with tie in hand. She remembers her initial encounter with him and is surprised. She is more surprised when she learns the TARDIS is bigger on the inside than out. He offers her a ride as thanks, but one trip only. She initially teases him because he’d kissed her, but then tells him she’s only into humans. With that, the two take off for the next adventure.

Thoughts: Martha as a companion is a plus. I like her a lot. I liked how the writers explained the actress’s appearance as a new character. Freema Agyeman was on Doctor Who last year in the episode “Army of Ghosts” as Adeola, who was taken over by the Cybermen. So making the characters cousins was a nice touch. The writers also took the Doctor’s do-everything tool, the sonic screwdriver, away which was a bit of a surprise. Of course, he produced a new one, but to be honest, that makes sense. I know some fans have complained about the sonic screwdriver, but I like it. There were a lot of fans who thought there was the apparent nod to Red Dwarf with the Doctor actually saying “smeg.” Unfortunately, while it did sound like “Ah! Smeg,” on closer inspection the Doctor actually said, “Oh, the sonic…” That was a bummer because I would have enjoyed having the Doctor use the term “smeg.”

As to the story, it was enjoyable enough. It wasn’t anything great or special, but we did get a hint that the Doctor may have had a brother based on a remark the Doctor made. I hope this gets explored. At the end, there’s a sign that says, “Vote Saxon,” which apparently will be this series “Bad Wolf.” I liked Bad Wolf in the first series, but I hope the writers do more with this Vote Saxon. Update: I just learned that Mr. Saxon was mentioned twice last year as someone in British politics. IF fan speculation about Mr. Saxon proves true, I will be VERY happy.