Saturday, September 29, 2012

You And Me, On the Last Page

My thoughts of "The Angels Take Manhattan" beneath the video. Spoilers (maybe?)

I can't really describe what this story means to me.  I didn't even realize that it would mean so much to me.  And every time I try to put it down in words, it sounds hokey.  I almost don't even want to listen to the podcasters review it because someone is going to have problems with this stupid little thing or that one dumb line (they'll come up with something - they always do) and I don't want to hear anyone run this story down.  It's like having a very special and sacred experience and then trying to tell someone else about it and they just laugh at you.  And you berate yourself because you should have known better because the other person wasn't there and it's just stupid to them and there's no way they can fully understand it.  Not the way that you do.

I can't step back from this one and be a cold-hearted reviewer, nitpicking all the "Well, there the Angels were looking at each other and how could the Statue of Liberty get there so quick and Moffat didn't explain this thing very well and blah, blah, blah, whatever..."  I can't do that - not for this story.  Not when I'm saying goodbye to someone who helped me clearly outline my own problems and define what was wrong with me - what I needed.  And what I needed was a friend or two or three - even if they were fictional - to take me out of my own sorrows and difficulties.

Two and a half years ago (more or less), I was introduced to Amelia Pond.  My introduction came at the end of mainlining all of Doctor Who (at least, everything since the 2005 revival).  As I've said before, my introduction to Doctor Who came at a really tough time for me.  I had no job, I was working through a Master's degree, I was still living in my parents' house (which at the time was a source of great disappointment and shame for myself) and I really didn't have much to look forward to in my life.  I didn't know what to do with myself and I felt terribly alone.  I cried a lot in those days.

Amy's story resonated with me almost immediately.  In "The Eleventh Hour," she mentions that she had to go psychiatrists and people didn't believe her that she met the Raggedy Doctor who had promised to take her traveling (I seriously cannot watch the scene with little Amelia running out of her house in her coat and hat with her little suitcase to wait for the Doctor without tearing up).  In "The Beast Below" - a story much maligned by Who fandom at large - Amy saves the star whale by realizing that something so old and so kind could only ever want to help a sad lonely child.  That resonated with me so much because, at the time, I was a pretty sad lonely child (compared to the Doctor and his 1000+ years, mid-twenties is like a baby, really).

Like so many other people, I ran away with the Doctor.  I ran away with him and Amy (and Rose and Martha and Donna and Sarah Jane and everyone else).  Their adventures were my adventures.  For a time, I am a companion.  Whatever is going on in my regular life and whoever is causing me grief doesn't matter - we have Daleks to defeat and corridors to run through.  But the adventures end.  They must, of necessity.  Companions leave, get left behind and a few die.  Even the Doctor dies.  But then he comes back and starts running again, finding other lonely children to amaze, entertain and change for the better (always for the better).

Amy was a lonely little girl for most of her life.  Then the Doctor returned and things seemed brighter.  Still, she wasn't sure how she wanted to go through her life.  Even when she was with Rory, she wasn't sure if he was what she wanted.  It took her quite some time to decide on that, but she did.  And she was happy.  As we saw last week in "The Power of Three," she had both her normal life with her husband and her adventurous traveling with the Doctor life.

Now, it's 2012.  I'm out of my parents house, I have my MLS, I have a job.  I've seen my share of joys and my share of disappointments and I've had my share of betrayals.  Amy had many different jobs, it seems.  She had a pretty good marriage and she had great things happen to her.  She also had some very difficult things - kidnapped and pregnant, much?  But in the end, would she trade it?

There have been days I wanted to run away from life.  That, if I heard the TARDIS engines groaning in my backyard, I would drop whatever I was doing and tear out after the Doctor (hoping, of course, that he would let me in).  Amy wanted to run away at first.  Even when she had reason to stay and even when she said she didn't want to run away anymore - she ran.  She ran after that Raggedy Man who took her away.  In the end, she ran after that Roman who stole her heart.

This season of Doctor Who began on September 1, which was the hardest day I've endured in a quite a long time.  I haven't let on that there's anything wrong because there's nothing I can do about what happened and it does no good to wallow in self-pity.  So, I keep calm and carry on.  Stiff-upper-lip and all that stuff.  I've done more than my share of crying lately.  It's almost like I'm back to that summer in 2010 when everything was falling apart and I had nothing to hold onto.  And then I watch Amy willingly walk into a Weeping Angel, complete with her name appearing on a gravestone next to her husband's.  It's almost too much - then again, it's almost the right time for it.

I've been told to grow up and quit watching all those silly sci-fi shows and spending my time reading fantasy books.  But that's how I cope with my troubles.  Stories are how I deal with my life.  That's how it's always been.  And when I find someone, even in fiction, who I can relate to (who can relate to me) - why would I let go of that?  Stories define us.  The stories and characters that pull us through our rough patches and our good times become part of us and part of our lives.  I would no sooner forget these people than I would my own parents and siblings.  Even ones that later disappoint me... well, I won't go into that here.  But the person that claims you never need to re-read a book or re-watch a movie, I would call them crazy.  Out and out looney.  You can't live your life bolted down to one time or one place and never experience things - even if it's just through fiction.  Well, maybe some people can.  I can't.

Amy Pond - well, she helped me.  She was a friend.  She and Rory.  All I can hope for is that they lived out a wonderful life in 1930s New York (hopefully the Angels were gone for good).  They deserve it.

I know this wasn't much of a standard review, but this wasn't a standard story.  Oh, maybe in the weeks and months to come I'll find plotholes to dig at or whatever, but for now, I can only be grateful for it.  Because it reminded me of something so dear and precious to me.  Something I'll never be able to put into words.  Nor would I ever want to.

The only way I could close this is with Amy's afterword.  Most of it is for the Doctor of course, but there were a few nuggets that I took to heart.  I hope you all don't mind -

Hello, Old Friend. Here we are. You and me, on the last page.  By the time you read these words, Rory and I will be long gone. So know that we lived well and were happy. And above all else, know that we will love you, always. Sometimes, I do worry about you, though.  I think , once we're gone you won't be coming back here for a while.  And you might be alone.  Which you should never be.  Don't be alone, Doctor.  And do one more thing for me: There's a little girl waiting in a garden.  She's going to wait a long while, so she's going to need a lot of hope.  Go to her.  Tell her a story.  Tell her that if she's patient, the days are coming that she'll never forget.  Tell her she'll go to sea and fight pirates.  She'll fall in love with a man who'll wait 2,000 years to keep her safe.  Tell her she'll give hope to the greatest painter who ever lived.  And save a whale in outer space.  Tell her, this is the story of Amelia Pond.  And this is how it ends.
                                                                    - Amelia Pond Williams

Thank you, Pond.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Old West Justice in a Town Called Mercy

"We will judge no man, but send him to the Judge of us all and let Him settle the matter." - Unknown

This idea came to me last week after listening to the boys at Traveling the Vortex, um, kind of rip apart "A Town Called Mercy" (that's me being nice about it - they gave it a pretty harsh drubbing).  I seriously couldn't figure out why people didn't like this story when I thought it was excellent.  Same with this week's "The Power of Three" - I absolutely adored it, but so far the general consensus is "Meh, it's okay - too much fanwank - the conclusion was too rushed."  I almost could chalk that one up to the boys from Radio Free Skaro being their usual pessimistic selves, but I've seen this assessment on Twitter and elsewhere.

I'm not exactly sure how to reconcile my opinions with the rest of Who-dom.  Then again, I've never been able to reconcile my opinions on anything with the rest of the world - not on anything that mattered, at least.  I've always been kind of an outlier in the "Thinking Deep and Thoughtful Thinkings" department, and this is one of those instances.  I want to talk about something that's missing from the "A Town Called Mercy" discussions.  I even missed it on initial viewing and it took me going "Why is everyone so obsessed with the Doctor's 'darkness?' "  But something hit me as I thought about it.

Why is the town called "Mercy?"  Of all the names they could have given the town, why Mercy?

First, let me work it from this angle - the Old West is famous for being a lawless place.  And this may be exaggerated in westerns, but there's the myth of justice in the Old West being a bullet in your head courtesy of the one who you wronged.  Even if the law catches up to you, there wasn't much in the way of a lawful trial and a jury of your peers.  It was a rough-and-tumble place.  My grandpa had a saying that my dad is fond of using now (and it probably came from a movie or something): "You've gotta be tough if you're gonna live in the west," the idea being that the west is not a merciful place and you will get no sympathy from this harsh lifestyle and its landscape (or from life in general).

Which is why it's interesting that this town in a generic American West area is called Mercy.  It's interesting that Sheriff Marshall Isaac is so keen on giving Kahler-Jex a second chance, even if he is a war criminal.  Jex is seeking to do some good after he's done so much wrong.  Justice dictates that, yes, he ought to be thrown out and left to fend for himself against the Gunslinger, who is actually Kahler-Tek - one of the people that Jex did so much wrong against.  Tek has every right to demand justice.  But mercy comes into play - Jex is the one who saved the town from cholera and the people are grateful.  They don't want to see their hero be gunned down by this monster.  So, they give him a safe place to stay at their own peril.

"A Town Called Mercy" is not the story of the Doctor's darkness or a fun romp in the Old American West.  It is the story of someone who made a terrible mistake and who is trying to atone for it.  But Jex will never be able to completely fix what he did and no amount of goodwill - however much his heart is in the right place - will be able to put Kahler-Tek back the way he was.  He deserves justice for the things he did in the war - yet doesn't he also deserve some mercy for the good he's tried to do?

Another thing that works with this story of redemption is the Kahler belief that in the afterlife, you must carry the souls of all those you've wronged.  Jex is afraid of this because he sees that he has done so much wrong. So, he runs in order to avoid paying his debt to God or the universe or whatever you want to call it.  In the end, he sees that he cannot run from justice any longer - there are consequences to your actions.  But right as the self-destruct countdown reaches zero, Jex expresses a hope that "Perhaps they [the people he's wronged] will be kind" - i.e. show mercy.

Of course, we never see the kind of reception Jex gets after he blows up his own ship and makes it to the afterlife - how the souls of those he has wronged receive him and if they are indeed kind, as is Jex's dying wish.  It is my own belief - and I'm going to get religious here, but it's my blog and tough turkeys if you don't like it - that there is One who can apply both justice and mercy.  Look - everyone is going to screw up in life.  There are people who have done terrible, terrible things and deserve harsh punishment.  But, on the flip side, there are a few of those people (and it's not up to me or you or any of us to say who those people are) who have recognized the bad things they've done and want to fix it the best they can.  I believe there will be a reckoning that no one can escape.  I don't know how it'll play out, and since I'm not in charge of it, I don't have to be too concerned about logistics and such.  However, I do know that there is going to be Someone on the other end who can show mercy while at the same time dishing out justice to those who deserve it (which would be everyone, to one degree or another).  We can try to show both mercy and justice, but it's beyond any of us to accomplish that.  People are limited in that regard.  Good thing it's not our job to judge a person's heart, now isn't it?

Anyway, those are my thoughts on this.  I don't know if that was the original intent of the writers, but if English professors can read crazy-ass theories that Shakespeare or Jane Austen never even heard of when they were writing, then I can take religious-type allegories from Doctor Who. Basically, the western aspect of it carries the ideas of justice that Jex is trying to escape from, but the town is called Mercy, so that makes you sit up and take notice that this is not a typical Old West town.  Throw in the "America is the land of second chances" - which is something my own ancestors came out West looking for, though in a somewhat different context - and you've got a story full to bursting in some pretty deep symbolism.

I knew those Lit Theory classes would turn out to be good for something!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

"Patience is for Wimps" or "Creatures of Hope" - Review of "The Power of Three"

Because I revel in being a little shit, my review of "The Power of Three" is below this "Chicken Dance" video.  But at least it's not on loop - (Spoilers!)

After the sheer brilliance of last week's "A Town Called Mercy" (and I didn't realize that an alternative title of that episode could have been "Old West Justice in a Town Called Mercy," but it's amazing what comes to you in the shower), I wasn't sure what to expect from "Cubed" "The Power of Three."  I wasn't terribly impressed with Chris Chibnall's first offering this season, "Dinosaurs on a Spaceship," so I didn't expect much.

Dear Sweet Gallifrey, Chibnall's been holding out on us!  If he was capable of such awesomeness, why in the name of all that is good and decent did I have to slog through stuff like "42"?

What I love about this episode is that it's all about this mysterious alien invasion, yet the crappy aliens don't show up until the last 7 minutes or so and we don't have to dwell on them too much.  But there are so many emotional ties in this story!  First and foremost is exploring the relationship between the Doctor and the Ponds (given that someone is going to die for dead next week - my money's on Amy - it's about time we got that).  I love the whole "putting the shoe on the other foot" thing they did here - instead of the Doctor's companions existing in his world, the Doctor gets to exist in the companions' world for a little while.  Special mention for Brian Pond Williams, of course - being stalwart about keeping an eye on his cube.  It was adorable.

Second - and I just about started bawling when it came up - Kate Stewart, the daughter of the late, great Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart (and since we watched "Battlefield" last night for Friday Night Who, my emotions were still a bit tender.  I don't think I'll ever fully get over it).  And not just that we had this peripheral, randomly-inserted heretofore unknown relative of a beloved companion and friend - but that Kate was genuinely awesome! (bringing more science into a military organization like UNIT - and that she had to drag them kicking and screaming - hell to the yes!!)  And that she just goes by "Stewart" so she doesn't get special favors because she wants to do things on her own merits - man, she is just... I have no words for how much I love her.  I have just a small request - everyone else is clamoring for Ice Warriors and Zygons (which were mentioned a bit in this story) and a bunch of other stuff, but I want more UNIT and Kate Stewart, if you please!

(I don't know if it was in any synopses or anything, but I am soooo glad I wasn't spoiled on that).

As the Doctor is trading barbs with Emperor Palpatine the Shakri hologram dude-thingy, he left with something that I wish more sci-fi shows would do.  Instead of leaving things at the "Humans are Bastards the Real Monsters" trope (which many sci-fi shows do because... hell, I don't know. Self-hate, maybe?), the Doctor gives us this blessed little gem:

"[Cubes] made attractive so humans will collect them, hoping to find something beautiful inside.  Because that's what they are. Not pests or plague - creatures of hope, forever building and reaching.  Making mistakes, of course, every lifeform does.  But - but - they learn! And they strive for greater - and they achieve it!"

HELL YES WE DO!! *Punch-the-air times a million!*

It's really hard to pick out little things that I liked because this whole story felt very tight and part of a cohesive whole.  Much the way "A Town Called Mercy" was last week, but even tighter than that.  It's still a stand-alone episode, like the rest of the stories this year have been, but I finally feel like we have a bit of a connection with the rest of the season instead of being bounced around hither-and-thither-and-yon.  There was a reason for the Dalek story and the dinosaur story and the western story - to show that time has passed significantly for the Ponds and the Doctor (though not at the same rate for both).  Certainly other adventures have taken place during this time, but nothing too connected or high-stakes like the cracks in time or the Silents.  Of course it would be great to see those adventures, but the BBC only gives the Moff and Company thirteen episodes to work with (doesn't mean that the novelists and alternative media creators aren't picking up some slack).  So, even with all the disjointed stuff we've had over the past month, I've enjoyed it and it makes sense how this works.

And next week - the Ponds get a proper send-off (or a very soul-crushing one.  That is yet to be seen).

I need to go watch this one again!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

"This is not how we roll and you know it" - Review of "A Town Called Mercy"

Hello again, all.  It's time for another Doctor Who review.  Spoilers below my mom's favorite song (at least, I think it's her favorite.  I know she likes it.  We watched "The Gunfighters" for Friday Night Who and the song they kept playing in that story made me think of this song) -

I'm gonna go out on a limb and say "A Town Called Mercy" is the best episode of Series 7 so far.  Maybe it's because the story itself is so timely it's scary or maybe it's just a really well-put-together and tightly-written story and I enjoyed it very much (I'm going to be diplomatic here and say that it's both).

If I had one complaint about "Dinosaurs on a Spaceship," it's that story tried to do waaaaay too much and was trying waaaaay too hard.  By contrast, "A Town Called Mercy" had a few simple ideas and wove them so tight together that everything worked - even stuff that you'd question was addressed quickly (like why Team TARDIS managed to walk through the desert and into Mercy without encountering the Gunslinger - because they didn't have any food or supplies for the town).  The pacing was EXCELLENT (not just good or excellent or even Excellent - EXCELLENT).  At no point was I bored or checking my watch or how much time was left on my iTunes counter.  I would put this on par with "The Girl Who Waited" from last year, it was that good (and I just about had myself convinced that it was the same writer - except it really wasn't.  Toby Whithouse wrote "The God Complex" last year, which I thought was a hot mess.  Guess people do learn from their mistakes after all).

Also, the dialogue was snappy and quick and just lovely.  Some favorites:

- Toast crumbs on the TARDIS console (that's why they didn't make it to Mexico)
- Rory left his phone charger in the court of Henry VIII
- The Doctor speaks Horse and discovers that "Joshua's" name is really "Susan" (I wonder how many fanboys that particular name sent into a tizzy)

Amy was brilliant in this episode.  The whole scene where Amy chastises the Doctor for throwing Kahler-Jex out of Mercy was bang-on awesome.  Even had some time for a few gun-related jokes (and here I must say that Amy was handling that gun very dangerously and people need to be very careful around firearms).  Amy knows the Doctor well enough by now that she can call him on his crap and, guess what, he actually listens!  *applause* *and some more applause*  You know, I guess Amy always has this ability with the Doctor - going back even as far as "The Beast Below" where she find the elusive Third Option (don't click that).  This time is a bit different in that Amy just says "I don't know what we're going to end up doing about this, but it sure as hell isn't what you're doing right now!"

Something I Must Address and It's Disgusting That I Must Do So - Even though Steven Moffat didn't write this episode, I know the "Moffat is a misogynist pig and we hates him - RAWR!" feminazis are going to have their g-strings in a twist over Jex observing that Amy must be a mother because she exhibits kindness and ferocity.  I know it's a little too much to ask you to think that Doctor Who isn't necessarily saying only mothers have these qualities because you all have your opinions set in stone, but could you not be so rabid about it?  That's  probably what drove Steven Moffat from Twitter last week (The Mary Sue, I am side-eyeing you SO HARD right now!  Tor, you're heading for the side-eye shit list).  I should have a whole essay on this nonsense of being a female geek meaning you have to take torches and pitchforks to anyone who doesn't toe the hardcore feminist agenda the way the hardcore feminists want, but in the meantime, could you all take your fuzzy pink vagina cosplay and stuff it?

Back to more important things -

Another thing that seemed to bother people - including me - last week was the way that the Doctor dispatched Solomon so brutally.  It was a little, um, out of character.  You know - just a little bit.  One could probably argue that the Doctor's actions toward Jex in this story were over-the-top as well (I keep wanting to call him Sharez Jek.  Which is COMPLETELY different).  But, again, the writing made the difference here.  The context we had to that point and the way the Doctor went off after he found out what Jex's M.O. really was (not to mention, again, the sheer BRILLIANCE of Matt Smith's acting chops) made it so much more chilling and believable rather than just scratching our heads and going "Did he just do what we thought he did?"  It actually made me wonder "What's happened since the last time he's had Amy and Rory along for an adventure?"  What has the Doctor been through that he goes off like that?  I really feel like we're only getting half of what's been going on (or maybe it's just I've been used to the over-arching story-arcs and this new stand-alone stuff takes some adjusting to)

Here's a list of other stuff I loved/noticed -

- The music. Back when I reviewed Firefly, I said that the first thing that really hooked me was the music.  The western-and-sci-fi motif is probably very difficult to mesh together and make it work.  But just like Firefly, "A Town Called Mercy" did this beautifully.  And I think this is the first time since Series 5 that we really had some original, not-recycled-from-a-past-series Murray Gold to go along with our Doctor Who (there might have been a few snippets last year, but I never noticed them.  I only ever noticed them playing "I Am the Doctor" during those "Shit's Gettin' Real!" moments).

- The Gunslinger has a distinct Anthony Hopkins look to him.  Or maybe that was just me.

- I loved that the Doctor just took the "warning shot" and made it his own.  However, I have a nit to pick with that - it wasn't a real Stetson (I'm a country kid - I know my western wear. Don't argue with me on this one).

- The kid that faces down the Doctor during the lynch mob scene?  His new name is Porkpie the Boy Wonder.    Seriously, Lynch Mob - why do you send the kid who just emerged from puberty to speak for you all?  I know you're frightened, but that's just ridiculous.

- This is a little thing, but you know how they all had those Kahler marks on their faces during the last showdown with the Gunslinger?  And how the Doctor was only partway through getting his painted on his face before he ran out to be a distraction?  Well, a few frames after he hides around a corner, he suddenly has the whole mark painted on his face.  Production-continuity-error?  Maybe.  But if that's all I have to complain about this story, then that's not much to complain about.

Honestly, I loved this story.  Great morality, wonderful conflict (that sounds weird, but it's the truth) packaged in an entertaining and thought-provoking episode.  Definitely a keeper.  And next week's looks intriguing as well - maybe get some insight into why the Doctor's been "Hi Ponds! *adventure, danger, running* Bye, Ponds!" all the time.

ETA: I just remembered something else that I forgot to mention earlier - Doctor Who novels and Big Finish have done Western-type stories before and I thought "A Town Called Mercy" sort of felt like those stories as well, just on TV and better executed.  It was cool to actually see a story like this work on screen in the New Series.

ETA2: I should have thought of this!  But credit to Radio Free Skaro on this one - the horse's name is Susan and it's a boy horse (quite obviously).  What does that give us?  A Boy Named Sue!

This calls for some Johnny Cash action!  It fits and you're welcome.

Monday, September 10, 2012

An Exercise in Focus and Perspective - Review of "Sean Griswold's Head"

Title: Sean Griswold's Head
Author: Lindsey Leavitt
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Publication Date: 2011
Reading Level: 14 and up

Synopsis (from Goodreads) -

According to her guidance counselor, fifteen-year-old Payton Gritas needs a focus object-an item to concentrate her emotions on. It's supposed to be something inanimate, but Payton decides to use the thing she stares at during class: Sean Griswold's head. They've been linked since third grade (Griswold-Gritas-it's an alphabetical order thing), but she's never really known him.

The focus object is intended to help Payton deal with her father's newly diagnosed multiple sclerosis. And it's working. With the help of her boy-crazy best friend Jac, Payton starts stalking-er, focusing on-Sean Griswold . . . all of him! He's cute, he shares her Seinfeld obsession (nobody else gets it!) and he may have a secret or two of his own.

In this sweet story of first love, Lindsey Leavitt seamlessly balances heartfelt family moments, spot-on sarcastic humor, and a budding young romance.

My Review:

I admit, I did not expect to love this book as much as I did.  But it's nominated for a Beehive Book Award from the Children's Literature Association of Utah and as a children's librarian in Utah, I feel like I ought to support the team.  This year, I've decided I'm going to read all the nominees - or at least give them a fair shot.  I can't vote on them because that's just for the school-age kids, but I'm going to read them anyway.

I would put "Sean Griswold's Head" in the same camp as "Dairy Queen," (I really need to migrate stuff from my old book review blog to this one - that's for later) in that it's family-type comedy narrated by a teenage protagonist who has to come to terms with major changes in her life and she deals with them with snark and jokes, disguising her pain and hurt.  Personally, I love books like this - books that treat teenagers like actual people and not these bizarre Disney Channel/Nickelodeon teeny-bopper caricatures of teenagers.  In this book, Payton Gritas is a realistic teenage girl - she's not overly-dramatic, she keeps a lot of things to herself and, yes, she thinks that she's right all the time.  She's a good student with a friend that is sometimes silly and she has her own little quirks (like spending her Christmas money on a super-expensive day-planner - just because she likes to be organized.  This may sound sad, but I can relate to that on a personal level).

The way she finds out her dad has MS - yeah, I think I'd freak out a little bit too.  The story is less that her dad has MS, it's more that she feels like she's been deliberately lied to about it.  Because her family didn't tell her right away, she feels like they don't appreciate her as someone mature enough to handle it.  Thus, every time she sees her dad having an episode, she doesn't think she can talk to anyone about it because she thinks no one will take her seriously.  She quits the basketball team because it makes her think of her dad, which makes her think of his illness and how her parents kept it from her.

I've done this.  When someone has angered or disappointed me, I do everything I can not to think about that person, even if it means giving things I love because they remind me of that person.  It's weird and silly and a little bit childish, but you almost can't help it.

This is where the titular Sean Griswold's head comes in.

Payton's analysis of Sean's head provides something that she can observe in a controlled way.  She keeps a journal of her observations of his head - and (more and more) her observations of the head's owner.  She starts cycling because it's something that Sean does - and because it's something that has nothing to do with her father.  She even ventures into the Hall of Terror where all the so-called "goth kids" hang out because Sean has friends there.  And, truly, they turn out to be not-so-bad.  Eventually, Payton becomes friends with Sean - and of course, this is where things start going wonky in Payton's life (and I will leave it up to you, Dear Reader, to find out for yourself).

I thought the whole premise was a little odd at first, but maybe it's because I've been dealing with some prickly situations with people I know lately.  I could identify with the need to separate myself from these people and find a completely different outlet to take my mind off my difficulties.  Thankfully, no one I know has any debilitating diseases (that I'm aware of), but Payton's story reflected mine well enough that reading this book was almost therapeutic for me.  That is something I won't soon forget.

(Plus, I thought it was hilarious that both Payton and Sean loved Seinfeld, even though no one else in their age group gets it.  Even Payton's friend Jac told her to lay off the Seinfeld references - before Jac knew that Sean was a Seinfeld fan too.  Uncanny).

Saturday, September 8, 2012

There Were Some Dinosaurs. There Was a Spaceship.

Hello Saturday! It's Doctor Who day and today's offering brought us "Dinosaurs on a Spaceship."  Spoilers below the clip from the best dinosaur movie in the world!

So... what to say about "Dinosaurs on a Spaceship?" Um... Mr. Weasley was in it. So was Argus Filch. And there was some rather odd innuendos.  And a couple of "What the heck was that doing here?"

I'm really having a hard time coming up with anything substantial to say about this one.  It sort of felt like a ten-year-old kid dumped out his toy box and started playing with his dinosaurs and robots and pirates all together and called it a Doctor Who episode.  Which works great for Andy in Toy Story - not so much here.

The whole thing kind of felt forced.  Lines about gender perspectives just make me cringe.  I'm not sure why Rory's dad had to come along.  Really, did two people of similar genetic makeup have to pilot the ship?  And why really did the Doctor need a whole "gang" of people along?  Why choose Queen Nefertiti and that other dude that I have no idea who he was?  Why Silurians?  Honestly, this whole episode felt rushed.  Maybe it needed to be a two-parter.  Maybe we needed a smaller toy box?  Hell, I don't know.

The robots were funny.  They had some snappy dialogue.  And the TARDIS materializing around Amy, Rory and Brian was great (definitely a time-saver - which was sorely needed in this episode).  And who can say anything bad about riding around on a triceratops?  But it feels like that's all there was to this episode.  I have nothing else to say about this story.  And, quite frankly, I'm ready for next week.

(I've been listening to too much Radio Free Skaro.  I'm starting to sound like Chris or Warren.  God help us all).

ETA: Just because I love this movie (and I found a ton of cute clips on YouTube) here's another "Land Before Time" clip.  It's adorable. You know you love it.


Sunday, September 2, 2012

Never Mind the Half-Empty Boxes All Over the Place...

'cause Doctor Who's back, y'all!!  Spoilers and review for "Asylum of the Daleks" below the trailer

A Personal Note: To say the past week has been crazy would be like calling Sheldon Cooper's a little bit smarter than average.  I've had the flu, I've had to pack up and move (more or less on my own, I might add) and I'm still not quite settled in to my new place.  Happily, I have tomorrow off, so I can take care of that some more as needed.  But I was more than ready for a new season of Doctor Who.  And "Asylum of the Daleks" did not disappoint.

As with any brand new Who, it takes some getting used to the fact that "Wow - this is really new stuff."  And even though it is a Dalek story, it's very different than traditional Dalek stories.  First of all, the Daleks are asking for help from the Doctor.  Which is just plain weird.  Also, this story reminded me in some ways of last year's "Let's Kill Hitler," in that the Daleks seemed secondary to the story even though they're in the title. It's more like Oswin (which, Jenna-Louise Coleman - WHAT?? I thought she wasn't going to be around until Christmas??? *insert "MOFFAT!!!" fist-shaking gif here*) was the main focus of the story.  The fact that she turned out to be a human-converted-Dalek was just... yeah it was there.

I got the feeling that they used the Daleks because they could use the old, dusty, cob-webbed models from Whovian Days of Yore that had been in storage and make it look like they were old, dusty, cob-webbed Daleks in the Asylum.  Hey, it worked.  I'm not complaining.  Way to come in under budget, guys and gals! *applause*

Amy and Rory - now I get why "Pond Life" was needed.  Beyond the whole "Hey, let's countdown to the premiere of new Doctor Who with these awesome little short episodes!" we did need to have a sense of all not being well in la casa de Pond.  This being Doctor Who rather than Days of Our Lives, I'm glad that they didn't dwell too much on the Ponds' marriage.  They spent just enough time on it to convey, yes there have been some issues off-screen and here they are and "HOSHIIII... THERE'S ANOTHER PSYCHO CRAZY DALEK, FOR THE LOVE OF RASSILON, RUN!!!!" Of course, I'm super-relieved that things turned out okay in the end and Amy and Rory get dropped back off at their cute little house-with-the-TARDIS-Blue-door at the end.  All is well in Pond-land.

(Maybe it's because I rewatched the pilot episode of Firefly last night, but do Amy and Rory remind anyone else of Zoe and Wash?  Even just a little?  They do me for some reason.  Just throwing that out there).

So... I have a question (no pun intended).  Was the Daleks screaming "Doctor...Who?" at the end just a nod to the end of last season, or is this going to be a running thing through this season?  I know Moffat said no more story arcs, but he also said that JLC wouldn't be around until Christmas and we all know that Moffat lies and I'm not putting anything past that cheeky old bugger.

And I'm being paged to come visit with my new roommates.  Plus, I think I've said everything I want to say.  I will now leave it to the wise and learned (and the podcasters) to continue the prognostication.

(damn, it feels good to be talking Who again.)