Sunday, September 25, 2011

On My Way!

See you all when I come home!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Just When You Thought Sofa-Man Couldn't Get Any Cuter...

I'm sure I'm not the only one who thought of this, but why pass up such an opportunity? Spoilers for "Closing Time" under the video -

Well, there were people praising "The God Complex" left and right last week for its DEEP AND PHILOSOPHICAL MEANINGS AND WE'RE SO INTELLIGENT FOR NOTICING *insert self-important pipe smoke here*. And that's just fine. Because those same people will be scoffing at how simplistic and naive "Closing Time" is. And that is where I found the charm of this penultimate episode of Series 6.

One thing I love about the Doctor is his desire and ability to take risks. More often than not, they pay off. But there are a few occasions where things go wrong. And suddenly, we have a Doctor who feels the need to drag his companions into this little Time Lord pity-party like he's a thirteen-year-old girl who didn't get asked to the Sweethearts Dance or something. And yes, not everything goes the Doctor's way.

But sometimes, I think we as fans take those failures and amp them up to surpass the Doctor's successes, as though we enjoy watching the Doctor suffer. Or maybe we just feel like jealous of the Doctor and his companions because of all the wonderful adventures they get to go on and any time we can see the Doctor fail, it's just one more notch in our "Well, We Can Feel Better About Ourselves Because You Suck" totem pole (now we sound like those arrogant cheerleaders in high school who have to pick on everyone else in order to feel more important.  Guys - we are better than this).

Thank Gallifrey for Craig Owens and "Closing Time."

Number One - I was happy to see Craig and Sophie back (however briefly Sophie was there).  "The Lodger" is a favorite of mine and I loved how Matt Smith and James Corden played off one another in that story, so I was glad to see James return.

Number Two - It was good to have a Pond break.  Don't get me wrong - I have all the love for Amy and Rory.  But I think the Doctor needed a change from some of the guilt they'd been piling on him.

Number Three - In that vein, Craig had so many wonderful lines in this and his words were probably what the Doctor needs at this point.  After having to break Amy's faith in him (which - why on Earth do people enjoy seeing other people lose faith in whatever they have faith in?  Why is that such a problem to the world at large?  That's another topic for another day, evidently), the Doctor is feeling like dirt.  But a visit to Craig - now, Craig has seen what the Doctor can do.  What Craig knows is this: People were dying when that spaceship was stranded about his flat and the Doctor came along and he was able to stop it.  Granted, Craig helped the Doctor do it (another evidence for the Doctor's need for a companion) - but would Craig have ever had the courage to do it without the Doctor?

Number Four - Two Words: Baby Alfie.  If I could engineer a perfect Team TARDIS, it would be Matt Smith plus a baby (and likely the baby's parents).  Maybe it's because I've become an aunt since this Doctor last encountered a baby, but all those scenes with the Doctor and Alfie were so beautifully done and Matt acted the crap out of those parts.  Add in Papa Craig and that's a match made in the time vortex.

(Side Note: Steven Moffat first introduced the concept of the Doctor "speaking baby."  I've noticed that when other writers take a concept that Moffat introduces and try to write with it, it falls flat.  But Gareth Roberts knocked this one out of the park.  All of the "Speaking Baby" scenes were so much fun and I loved all of it).

Number Five - Only because I know people are going to piss and moan about "Ugh - Craig saved the day with love and how stupid is that," just let me tell you something, Harry Potter: The Doctor has voiced his admiration for the human race and he's also voiced his distaste for the human race.  If there is anything good about this world and the people in it, it's that we have the capacity to care about each other.  My heart broke when I thought Craig was about to become a Cyberman (my first thought was "Oh no! Not Craig!" My second thought was "Oh crap, I'm going to have to sit through another round of 'Pity the Doctor because he screws up everything and everybody' ").  But when little Alfie cried and that gave Craig the strength, the courage, the... whatever... to break out of the Cybermen's emotion-killing-machine-thingy - I cheered out loud!  From a writer's standpoint, the Cybermen are great for contrasting the difference between the cold-hearted and emotionless life of soullessness and the loving and warm life of love.  When you love, it means you have people around who care about you and you have people to care for.  Sure, it sounds sappy and silly, but that's because there's not really a way to make it sound as good as it feels.  I, for one, liked the ending.  Plus, it was a great contrast to the danger that is certainly about to come in the next episode.

Number Six - Because I couldn't fit it in anywhere else: the Cybermen basically took a backseat in this story and just let the emotions play out for the Doctor.  They were used as just an adversary for the Doctor to defeat in his normal fashion to give him one last hurrah before heading off to Lake Powell Silencio.

Number Seven - HOLY COW THE FINALE!  Okay, so people were right about River being in the spacesuit.  BUT - the point of the next episode is NOT to see River kill the Doctor.  The point is to see how he gets out of this one.  Because we all know Matt Smith's coming back for Christmas and next season and the season after that.  I for one and eagerly anticipating the resolution of all of this.

Bottom Line: The Doctor is leaving the safety of the friendship of a companion and about to meet his death.  Why wouldn't he want to bask in that for as long as he can?

Programming Note: I am leaving for a study abroad trip to Serbia tomorrow morning.  Because of this, my review of "The Wedding of River Song" will be delayed until I can get back and watch it.  This means that I have to be extra-vigilant of spoilers, but I can handle it (with any luck, I might be able to find a decent download link and watch the episode on the plane ride home).  The only bad part is that I won't be able to SQUEE with all of you until then :(  But do enjoy yourselves.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Two for the Price of One

This is more or less an inside joke (for those who are inside the Utah-BYU rivalry), but I couldn't think of a video to put with this review. If you get it, great. If not, scroll down for my review of "The God Complex."

I'm sure there's some great and grand underlying Meaning-with-a-Capital-M to "The God Complex" and I'm pretty sure I know what it is (and I'm pretty sure I don't like it).  I'm sure the podcasters will be in full-force tonight and tomorrow morning praising this story for all its subtleties and how masterful Toby Whithouse and Steven Moffat are as writers and only the brainless oafs in Whodom won't be able to get it and aren't we so wonderful and clever and intelligent for understanding the Deeper Meaning they have given us (maybe even throwing in a "Praise Them" as a cocky little in-joke).

Well, count me as a brainless oaf in Whodom because I did not understand that story for one second.

Actually, let me clarify - I understood the ending.  I understood the fact that the Doctor cares about Amy and Rory (maybe Amy more than Rory - if hard-pressed to admit it) and his feelings run deep enough to unceremoniously dump them off in Leadworth after a particularly harrowing adventure (I guess I shouldn't say "unceremoniously."  Sarah Jane got "unceremoniously").  I got that part and I got the emotions they were going for and, for a little while at least, I started to buy into it (the Doctor calling her "Amy Williams" very nearly had the waterworks going - because the day she becomes "Amy Williams" is the day that she grows up.  By extension, I'll have to grow up. And won't that just suck?)

Then the "Next Time" trailer popped up and I was all - Oh that's the Craig guy from "The Lodger!"

Honestly, "The God Complex" felt like two stories crammed into one.  At one point, I threw down my pen from taking notes and just said "I don't get it!"  I knew we were meant to care about these people lost in this labyrinth-spaceship-thing (if Rita's cue-the-dramatic-music-super-slo-mo death was any indication) but I didn't.  Not as much as I was meant to, I think.  I almost think this story would have been better served as a two-parter - but I'm not sure how it would work.  I mean, there's only so much you can do with running through an old hotel and finding scary things in the rooms.

I wanted to care about this story - I really, really did.  And the concept was a good one - what is more scary than losing your faith in whatever you have faith in?  I do like that the Doctor pointed out that faith doesn't necessarily mean religious faith (so you can all stop screaming at us already) - it could mean faith in luck or in yourself or whatever.  It made the story work on that level - I just wish they would have spent more time on that and less time on "Oooh - lookit us - it's "Doctor Who" and we're being scary again for the sake of being scary - run behind the couch kiddles! ha ha! No, really - go hide behind the couch...."  It worked once or twice, but now it's getting old.

...sigh... I truly, truly hate to be one of Those People who find fault with so many things and whines about it all.  And the sad thing is that I get what they were trying to do with this story - but it fell a little flat for me.  I need to care about the characters, for a start.  And don't give me the whole "Well, they only have these characters here for one story and you have to get rid of them" because the Doctor Who writers have done that time and again and it's been credible.  Even as recently as "Night Terrors" - I truly cared about little George and his dad.  I really could care less about Howie and Rita (even if she is clever) and that one pointy-eared guy that looked like he wandered off the set of "The Grinch."

I dunno... maybe on a rewatch I'll get it better, but right now, I'm kind of left out in the cold with this.

Bottom Line: Make "The Rebel Flesh" a one-episode story and "The God Complex" a two-parter and maybe you'd have something worth discussing.  For now, I'm just "meh..."

Friday, September 16, 2011

Parenting: You're Doing it Right (plus, the Zoobie Tweak of the Day)

Because the Utes have moved up to the Pac-12 and BYU has gone to the corner to cry like a bunch of whiny babies independent, the traditional rivalry game is now held in September.  Bear with me, this will take some getting used to.

In honor of this event, I bring you 2-year-old Mady whom I have never met personally but I want to give her parents an award for this:

In two years, this will be my niece.  Guarantee it.

And because I know it will tweak the BYU fans (and I delight in sending their little Zoobie heads a-spinning), here's is President Monson singing "Utah Man."

Yup, it's rivalry weekend.  Win or lose, you've gotta love it.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Updates and Stuff

Felt like updating today.  It's my blog and I do what I want with it.

- I think I mentioned this before, but I'm too lazy to go back and see for sure.  In a couple of weeks, I'm on my way to Serbia for study-abroad!  It's only for ten days, so it's not like I'm leaving forever.  But I'm still a bit nervous because this is the first time I've traveled outside of the U.S.  I am lucky in that there are people going with me that have been to Europe before and know the ins and outs of travel and I'm sure once I get there I will get settled-in nicely and everything will be great.  It's just the anticipation and preparation for a trip like this that's stressful - you know, making sure you have everything you'll need (most of that is just guessing what to take with me because we haven't got many details about the itinerary or schedule, so I'm sure that I'll get there and wish I had brought along X, Y or Z.  But that's neither here nor there).

- I haven't mentioned much about school this semester, but I am in this really neat Children's Library Services class!  Most of the class requirements entails reading children's books (picture books and novels) and giving short reviews of each one.  I had read some of them before this class, but some I had not.  But I will be posting my short reviews on cj's bookshelf later (I've posted at least one review of a novel from this class there already).  The rest of the class involves coming up with a puppet show and doing a read-aloud as though we were reading to kids.  This is going to be goooooood. :)

- Which reminds me that I never posted pictures of my Fancy Nancy adventure this summer.  During my practicum, I helped out with the "France with Fancy Nancy" program at the West Jordan Library.  And it was a BLAST!

If you don't know, Fancy Nancy is a girl from a series of picture books by Jane O'Connor.  Nancy LOVES anything that's fancy - words, clothes, food, parties, you name it.  So, this party was all about the fancy!

I read "Fancy Nancy's Favorite Fancy Words" to the group and that was fun.  But the REAL fun started when...

I let the kids dress me up as Fancy Nancy!  We just had some cute accessories in the library closet and we set them out and I acted like a giant doll for them to dress up.  Now, I would not do this in any other setting, but because it was part of the library program, I was okay with it.  And the kids had fun with it (I even had a few of them ask for a picture with me, which was a heart-warming moment).  That is the secret of being a children's librarian - you leave you dignity at the door.

- These days, when I'm not at work or doing school things, I am just enjoying my little niece.  In the two months since she was born, she's grown a lot.  But she's even more cute for it.

My sister texted me this picture the day of the first University of Utah football game and it made my freaking day (it was kind of a crappy day anyway).  Some background info - I made the blanket for her and I gave her the Ute onesie, so it was the best thing I could have seen.  I haven't been able to see her in person very much because of work and what-have-you, so I just enjoy the pictures my sister sends me or posts on Facebook.  And I just love this kid!  It's a weird thing, being an aunt, but I love every minute of it.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

What It Means To Remember

In 1990, Lois Lowry wrote "Number the Stars," a historical fiction novel about two girls living in 1930s Denmark on the brink of the Holocaust. In this story, one girl comes from a Jewish family and the other girl and her family is helping them escape the Nazis. Though this is a fiction, it is very much steeped in history in a way that children as young as 8 or 9 can understand the horrible things that happened to Jewish people during that time.

"Number the Stars" won the Newbery Award that year. During one of Lowry's speaking engagements, she says that a woman came up to her and asked why people wrote about the Holocaust and World War II. It was so long ago, why do we need to revisit these horrible events in history? What does it have to do with us?

Partially as a response to this woman's comments, Lois Lowry wrote "The Giver." This book is about a society that chooses to forget. They forget about war and fear and pain. They have everything decided for them and they are spared any hard or difficult thing. But at the same time, they also give up the joys and delights of life. There is no color or weather or differences or choices in this world - nothing to give variety to existence.

I bring this up because it has been ten years since September 11, 2001. Some people may think that it's time to move on. Sure, recognize this day and that it happened, but don't really make a big deal out of it. Because it's easier to forget such a horrible thing happened.

Yeah, in some ways it would be easier to forget. Just treat this day like any other day to sit in front of the TV and enjoy the opening weekend of the football season. Eat chips and drink soda and yell at the players and referees who screw up three or four states away because in the long run, it doesn't mean anything.

But some of us just don't want to forget.

To their credit (and who would expect any less?), the NFL is doing a lot of memorials and there are some good ads from companies to commemorate this day. I'm sure there will come a point where these are unnecessary and it won't be as big of a deal to remember and rehash that horrible day.

But I am glad that it hasn't happened yet.

I still remember vividly where I was when I learned of the attacks. I was in high school and heading to my biology class. I got a late start that morning, so I didn't get a chance to see the news or listen to the radio, so I had no idea that anything was wrong. We were supposed to have a test in biology that day, but our teacher had the news coverage on when we walked in and there was no way any of us could concentrate on something as silly as a biology test.

Now it's ten years later. In that time, I've been to four years of college, 18 months on an LDS mission and one semester away from my master's degree. I have a little niece and a handful of cousins that have been born since September 2001. I wonder if they will ever understand the significance of 9/11 - how scary that was, even for those of us who were on the other side of the country that day. I've never been to New York, but it's still an emotional thing for me to think about. Because terrorist attacks are things that happen in other places far away from me. They happen in countries that aren't as safe as mine. I don't have to worry about evil people who hate me and want to kill me because of my religion or my race or where I was born or where my parents were born. But to see something like that happen in the United States - a place where I have felt safe and secure my entire life - it rattled me. And I don't like being rattled.

I don't know anyone personally who lost someone in these attacks, but I understand and I feel the loss just as much as if it was one of my parents or my siblings or my friends. I am supremely grateful to the firefighters, police officers, military and just plain ordinary people who stepped up that day and in the days since to keep this country and its citizens safe and free.

When I see my little niece giggle or when I get to play with my little cousins, I often think about the world they get to grow up in. It's getting increasingly dangerous, but it's also getting increasingly safe and people are becoming better. Here's what I mean by that: in the Doctor Who story "Genesis of the Daleks," there is a memorable scene where the Doctor has a chance to prevent the creation of his greatest enemies, the Daleks. The Daleks are the supreme evil in the universe and the Doctor has been sent back in time to destroy them before they can become the destructive force that so many people fear. The Doctor has this moment which has become known as the famous "Have I the Right?" moment. He wonders if he has the right to completely destroy the Daleks - even knowing the horrible things they will do. One line that I think gets overlooked is the one where the Doctor says that people will ally themselves against the Daleks and good people will do great things because they choose to fight the Daleks. This scene is not entirely about averting genocide as it is about the contrast of good and evil - the more evil there is in the world, the more good stands out against it.

That, I think, is the greatest lesson to learn from 9/11 - Evil exists in the world, but good will stand against it and that is what's worth celebrating.

It's certainly worth remembering.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

It's Not Rocket Science. Just Quantum Physics

Oh gosh, I've been catching up on my writing and blogging all day today.  I hope I can do this the justice it deserves.  Review of "The Girl Who Waited" - Spoilers ahoy!

I honestly could not think of a good video to act as a spoiler cut for this review. So, I went with the song that's been stuck in my head all day. Somehow, I feel that it's appropriate (if you want the music video-type version with Jon Schmidt and Steven Sharp Nelson performing - and a cute dedication at the end - go here).

This will probably be a shorter review than you're used to seeing from me, but I'm actually stunned by this one.  The last little while, "Doctor Who" has been so focused on plot lines and humongous reveals.  I'm not upset about this at all - I enjoy the wild and crazy rides and all the guessing and theorizing and avoiding spoilers and the eternal cursing of Steven Moffat's name (good naturedly, of course).

But after watching "The Girl Who Waited," I realized that I've missed the character development.  I've missed the deeper relationships and the consequences companions face when they travel with the Doctor.

I figured this episode would be Amy's time to shine and I was not disappointed in the least.  Even though it was Old!Amy who saved the day and Young!Amy won't ever remember that - I think it still speaks to Amy's character that, in an alternate timeline she was able to survive and fight for 36 years.  She has that potential and the ability to equal and possibly exceed the awesomeness that we've come to appreciate from Rory the Roman.

Another thing I thought of while watching this episode is that this could be an insight to how the Doctor may view his past selves.  There has been talk ad nauseum about a possible multi-Doctor story for the 50th anniversary in 2013 - and Traveling the Vortex did a whole big run of classic multi-Doctor story reviews right before the season started up again - and it's got me to thinking how does the Doctor feel about meeting his past self?  Usually he has some snarky remark to make about his dress sense or how he went about doing things back in the day.  But then that got me thinking - how would I feel about meeting a past version of myself - what would I say about myself if I met me from middle school?  How about the version of me that was a freshman in college?  What would I say?  Would I do anything to change how my life turned out?

Something important to think about, wouldn't you say?

Of course, the emotional sap in me definitely surfaced in the scene where Old!Amy and Young!Amy are talking about Rory and that they would bend time and space for him.  Though I've grumbled in the past about how we get that Amy and Rory love each other, they're married, they've got a kid (sort of) and we get it already so would you please stop killing one or the other off to showcase it - this was that idea done right.  It wasn't just a cheap way to score drama points - it was sincere and heartfelt and I don't think it was overdone here at all.

A few loose ends -
- For such an awesome episode, there were surprisingly few memorable one-liners - the only one I could think of ended up being the subject line, so there you go.
- I guess this could be the Doctor-lite episode, though the Doctor's presence was certainly everywhere.  The Doctor didn't show up in many of the scenes in the Apalapucia quarantine facility - he was mostly in the TARDIS.  The whole point of Doctor-lite is so the production team can have some of the cast in one place and the rest in another and they can film more than one episode at once.  This is a new way of doing it that doesn't set "Love & Monsters" alarm bells ringing and it still feels like an episode of "Doctor Who"
- I will probably never look at the meaning of the word "kindness" the same way ever again.
- How cool is the name "Apalapucia"? Had to look it up on the TARDIS Wiki to know how to spell it, though.
- The bigger story arc of this season was never actually mentioned or even alluded to in this entire episode, making this a 100% stand-alone story (the only one of Series 6 thus far, if I'm not mistaken).

As far as I'm concerned, "The Girl Who Waited" and "The Doctor's Wife" are tied right now for best episode of Series 6.  And they both deal with relationships between the main characters.  This is not a coincidence.  This does NOT mean I don't like the plotlines and story arc in "Doctor Who" and I really don't relish the idea of there being this kind of sentimental story every week.  But every once in a while is good - just to change things up a bit.

Bottom Line - "A Girl Who Waited" gave Amy some much-needed character depth and showed Amy and Rory's relationship more than we've seen before.  That can never be a bad thing.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Mom - Can You Leave the Light On?

Spoilers for "Night Terrors"

When I was a kid, there was one movie that was sure to send me diving behind the sofa (actually, since our TV room was in the basement, I would run halfway up the stairs and hide there).  I was scared-to-freaking-death of "E.T. - The Extra Terrestrial."  Laugh if you must, but when you see that weird little alien staring back at you from the midst of all those stuffed animals, it's enough to make a four-year-old sleep with the light on (as I did for years - STOP LAUGHING!)

I do not do scary movies very well.  I don't do haunted houses and there are times that I just cannot watch the news.  I can handle some creepy things, but out-and-out, wet-your-pants scary - no thank you.  Even when I saw movies like "Titanic" and "Armageddon" I had a hard time sleeping (and I was in middle school for those two, for pity's sake!) I've gotten better as I've gotten older, but there are still times that I have to just turn the light on for an hour or so in the middle of the night.

So, now Doctor Who brings in "Night Terrors" - and I was really nervous about this one.  I actually recorded it last night and didn't watch it until this morning (Sunday morning) because everyone was talking about how scary this would be.  This would be real and proper Doctor Who, complete with the scariest monsters and kids hiding behind the couch.

Turns out, I didn't need to worry.  In one sentence, I would describe "Night Terrors" as sufficiently creepy, but not so much that you're going to have nightmares.  Sure, walking dolls is enough to make anyone wet themselves (that was something else that freaked me out as a kid - though it didn't stop me from playing with the dolls I had back then).  In fact, once you find out that the adorable little boy, George, is the one controlling the monsters, it's okay!

Can I just spend some time on George and the fact that he's a Tenza?  Because that is a really cool concept - an alien that becomes whatever you want/need?  I really hope they get to explore those creatures again, just because there's a lot they could do with that.  I also wonder if they aren't setting something up for the Tenza to come in at the finale.  I don't know what it would be, but I just think it's too cool of a creature to just use in this one episode.

Also - I saw some good Amy moments.  Rory had a few too, but Amy just had a few scenes where she really shone.  They were small moments, but they were pretty good.  Just a few off the top of my head - she realized the "copper" pot was really made of wood, she thought to grab the copper/wooden pot as she and Rory are wandering around the dollhouse, Amy also thought of letting the dolls in the room so she and Rory could get away (with mixed results).  I guess I feel the need to point these out because so many people keep carping about how Amy is just there to fill a mini-skirt and doesn't have any real purpose - which I think is a bunch of crap.  Especially with the preview for next week's episode - like I said last week, Amy is going to have her time to shine.

Some other good things -
- The Doctor can't blame George for being scared of clowns
- Rory: "We're dead - again!"
- Rory's flashlight from "Vampires of Venice" makes an appearance - also, the Doctor makes a face in the mirror like he did in VoV (Did Mark Gatiss write that episode too?  Hold on... oh... nope, he didn't. Forget I brought it up)

All in all, this was a good solid one-off story.  The plot resolved itself well, the acting was good, there were equal parts scary and funny (the whole montage of the Doctor, Amy and Rory knocking doors to find out where the message was coming from - hilarious!) and I really don't have any reason to complain.  Granted, I'm sure there will be the small (but vocal) contingent of People Who Simply Won't Be Pleased With Anything that'll find some reason to bitch about this episode (last week it was the Doctor's throwaway line of "She's a woman" that had everyone's G-strings in a knot... oy...), but I liked it.  Monsters and all.