Saturday, March 30, 2013

Here Is a Riddle to Guess If You Can - Review of "The Bells of Saint John"

"The Bells of Saint John" is in the history books! As such, a review must follow. Spoilers, sweetie!

(That almost seems outdated now)

It's going to take me some time to get used to Eleven in modern day (and it looks like I won't get that time, but I'm oddly okay with it).  It feels like so long since we've had an adventure in the present ("The Power of Three," notwithstanding).  It also feels like it's been a long time since we've had new Doctor Who... even though Christmas was barely four months ago (three months? Math and I do not get along).

More than anything, "The Bells of Saint John" feels like a total reboot of Doctor Who.  New companion, new TARDIS interior - the Doctor even gets a new outfit (I am digging the longer coat, though).  The format even feels new.  I don't know why, really.  Maybe it's just that the 50th Anniversary celebration really feels like it started today (new casting announcements helped that along, certainly).

Mostly, I have a list.  That is nothing new -

- Opening Titles - I am so in love with the new titles, it's not even funny! Also, it seemed like the theme music was a bit different, even from "The Snowmen."  It really feels like a very classy mix of all the Classic Who openers and I could watch it all day!  I love all the different "spacescapes" (that's what I'm calling them - I think there's even one part that calls back to the black-and-white era) and the music gives it a further air of mystery (as does the blink-and-you-miss-it Doctor's face).  It also reminds me of the Eighth Doctor's theme from Big Finish. It gives me chills and I love it!

- The Doctor's opening scenes felt very "Time Meddler" to me.  Maybe I was just looking for callbacks to Classic Who (then again, mention the Mad Monk in "Doctor Who" - what do you expect?)  Of course, I kept reminding myself that Steven Moffat's mantra of late has been that the 50th Anniversary should look ahead, not behind (though if he really wants to look ahead - throwing UNIT in right after The Great Intelligence is a poor way to start.  I AM NOT COMPLAINING ABOUT THIS! just so we're clear on that).

          - Addendum - This might come from my recent fascination with missing episodes, but maybe this re-introduction of The Great Intelligence into New Who is Steven Moffat's way of trying to resurrect those old favorites that we can no longer see.  Same with the Ice Warriors (even though that's getting the animation treatment - someone recently asked on LiveJournal which missing stories everyone would like to see and I replied with ALL OF THEM!! Even the ones that are considered crap. Don't care - I WANT IT ALL!!!)

           (Nope. I'm not asking too much, am I?)

- The Mystery of Clara Oswin Oswald - There wasn't much expounding on her in this episode (although THANK RASSILON SHE DIDN'T DIE! AGAIN!) But I still loved her to bits!  I love her keeping up with the Doctor and all her questions and SHE HAS A BOOK WRITTEN BY AMELIA WILLIAMS!! A little part of me was sad that the Doctor didn't find that book, but on the flip side I'm glad that he didn't.  I don't want Eleven to get all whiny-piney about stuff he can't do anything about.  Not when there are mysteries to solve and adventures to be had (as soon as he picks up Clara at 7:00 tomorrow).

           - Does she still have computer-genius-stuff in her brain?  Because she couldn't log onto the internet to save her life in the beginning, but then she was hacking away at those webcams toward the end.  That could certainly lend itself to the theory that Clara is Oswin from "Asylum of the Daleks" and she just got separated from the Doctor in typical timey-wimey fashion.

            - Also - Jenna-Louise, oh boy, can that girl rattle off her lines!  I don't really know what else to say about her other than she's fantastic and wonderful and brilliant (and NOT Rose 2.0, wehavebeendownthatroad andaredonewithit, thankyouverymuch. Geesh - some of those Tor articles make me want to tear my hair out. 'Nother story for another day).  I love having a companion that can hit the ground running and keep pace with the Doctor.  I don't think I've seen one like that who didn't need a warm-up period before they really got the hang of it (Romana, maybe).  Maybe that further lends to her mystery or maybe it's just nice to have a change (or maybe I still haven't caught my breath from running after the pair of them).  She's like River Song in some respects, but definitely her own person (I don't ever see River traveling in the TARDIS as a long-term companion, do you?)  She matched the Doctor step-for-step and that is flat out amazing.  Though I'm going to need a nap after every episode because I just don't go that fast :)

- The Entire Airplane Scene - I can't be the only one who thought "Doctor - you've come a long way since Concorde."

- Saint John = St. John Ambulance. Oohhhhhh! I GET IT! The bells of Saint John is the telephone in the TARDIS! Kind of feel like an idiot for not getting it sooner.  I mean - I have a model of Eleven's TARDIS with the St. John Ambulance decal sitting on my desk).

- Whatever woman it was at the shop that's giving out the TARDIS phone number as the help line - I want to go to that shop!

- Last night for Friday Night Who, we watched The Impossible Astronaut and Day of the Moon.  A frequent comment was that lots of seeming-throwaway-lines were actually major plot points - or they at least telegraphed some stuff that didn't become important until later (Amy wondering about her baby having effects from her traveling in the TARDIS - the Doctor going to drop the Ponds off to live in wedded bliss and make babies - there were others, but I can't remember them now :/)  So, it does not surprise me when Clara's throwaway Twitter joke became a clue to the Doctor that All Was Not Well with Clara (other than it being a side-result of The Moff giving up Twitter - seriously, it's a bad habit. You kids should stay away from it).  Also - The Anti-Grav Olympics.  I want that motorbike (on second thought... I'm scared of riding motorcycles, so maybe not).

- Richard E. Grant IS The Great Intelligence! I think I accidentally saw a spoiler for that some time ago, but I dismissed it as IMDb being stupid again.  And the lady running the Spoonhead thing (I totally missed her name, but I'll remember it on a rewatch) reverting to a young child after GI let's everything go... wibble.

- I did get flashes of "The Idiot's Lantern" in this story - but with much better execution than that story had.  I'm fine with it.

- What else -
         - With the TARDIS, you're never late for breakfast!
         - I can't tell the future, I just work there.
         - The Doctor keeps his bowtie in a box (and chucks the fez off to the side - so he finally bought on, eh?)
         - [Chapter] Eleven is the best. You'll cry your eyes out (after the kid says he's only up to chapter 10 - little bit of projection, you think?)
         - Amelia Williams wrote books! I know I mentioned that already, but it warms my little bookworm heart :)
         - ETA - If the inclusion of UNIT at the end means Kate Stewart can come back and be a semi-regular, I will do happy-dance-somersaults until the end of forever!

Last Page - I will have to rewatch this, only because it went so fast and my handwritten notes look like crap.  But, if this is as fast as everything's going to go this year - yeah, they can cram a shedload of stuff into the 50th Anniversary.  Beyond that - I feel like I've been renewed.  A new season of Doctor Who (technically, middle of the season, but it feels brand new) and anything can happen.  We had cozy slippers last fall, now it's time for some fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants action.  I want to see more of the new companion and see the lead-up to the 50th and beyond.  I'm ready to roll, so let's get going!

(... is that why I'm compelled to check my iPhone every morning? Creepy...)

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