Monday, May 25, 2015

"What Makes You Think I Would Ever Give You Back?" - Revisited Review of "The Doctor's Wife"

Revisited Review of Doctor Who 6.04 - "The Doctor's Wife"

Written By: Neil Gaiman
Team TARDIS: Eleventh Doctor, Amy Pond, Rory Williams
Adversary: House, Patchwork People
Originally Aired: May 14, 2011
Number of Episodes: 1

See and mark well how my brain works. Because I have been bone-dead-tired for pretty much most of the day. Even caught a nap this afternoon, but I'm still ready to collapse into bed. But what happens at 10:30 at night when I should be cuddling up with my pillows and blankets? Brain says "Nope - you've gotta write about "The Doctor's Wife." And do it RIGHT NOW!" So - that's what I'm doing.

I'm not even stuck on the episode as a whole - though it certainly is one of the very best revived Doctor Who has to offer. I'm more interested in thinking out loud about the Doctor and Idris. Who is revealed to be (Four Year Old Spoilers Ahead!) possessed by the soul of the TARDIS. The conceit of this episode is clever in that you don't have to be steeped in Doctor Who history and lore to understand the story. All you need are the basics - the Doctor's TARDIS is the one constant in his life, it's been there since day one, he has a connection to his ship - which is much more that any typical spaceship (so sorry Enterprise and Millennium Falcon - you're both handy to have in a tight spot, but the TARDIS wins for... pretty much everything else). While the people who have been immersed in Doctor Who for a long time do get their own treats and Easter Eggs in this episode, an extensive knowledge of the show isn't necessary to enjoy and love the beauty of this story.

The Doctor's relationships with his companions come and go. He looks upon all his companions with fondness regardless of how they parted. But that they point - they left. Or he left them. Or they were forced to leave. The point is, they aren't there anymore. But the TARDIS is. That mad old box which is a cross between a DeLorean and the wardrobe to Narnia with its own version of a soul, always listening to the ramblings of a mad old man who is a cross between HG Wells and Father Christmas. Aren't they just a pair - rushing about in time and space with nothing in particular to do, and no where in particular to do except travel everywhere.

He rambles, she listens. He runs, she rackets about. They're always together - the Doctor and the TARDIS. And for once, she gets to respond to him and it is absolutely and precisely brilliant to listen to. The title of the episode may be "The Doctor's Wife" - and they certainly do bicker like an old married couple. But beyond the TARDIS airing her grievances about the "Pull to Open," (which - that point is debateable) and the Doctor bringing home strays and everything else she pokes at him about - she still

There is something simple in the beauty of this story. While the surrounding trappings of the disembodied House and the Patchwork People and even the trouble Amy and Rory get into serve to move the story forward and give the episode a reason to exist - those things are the "B Plot." They almost don't matter. The real story here is the Doctor FINALLY getting to speak to his One True Love face to face. And, in spite of Amy's "Did you wish really hard?" quip poking fun at the stereotypical male fantasy of his vehicle being made into the form of an attractive woman - there is so much more to this relationship than low-hanging jokes about the male psyche. Because the Doctor is no ordinary dude and the TARDIS is no ordinary ship. This is more than exploring the Doctor's backstory and giving him motivation and history and whatever - this is exploring a complicated core of the entire Doctor Who mythos without giving everything away. The mythos is explored, but the mystery and the wonder remain very much intact.

And that is why "Alive" is so very sad in the end. For while the TARDIS is always there and always will be, this time of speaking to the Doctor face-to-face has ended. She can no longer express her love and affection to the Doctor in so many words, which was such a challenge for her in the beginning of this adventure. And, while the Doctor does understand her feelings (and his own) - sometimes, it's just nice to hear those words from the person you care about. It's a story about life and death and love, but without life and death and love. Not in the way we usually express it, anyway. And that's probably what keeps rolling through my head over and over again about this story - the sadness of endings, the joy of newly discovered relationships, the realization of what you had all along (and what will always be with you, though in a different way than you first thought).

Just a mad man with a box? Sure, if you want to look at it that way. But this story makes the Doctor and the TARDIS so much more than that. Which is something I will always, always, always love about it.

Amy: Look at you pair. It's always you and her isn't it? Long after the rest of us have gone. A boy and his box off to see the universe.
The Doctor: Well you say that as if it's a bad thing. But honestly it's the best thing there is.

The Doctor: Are you there? Can you hear me? No. Obviously not. Okay. The Eye of Orion or wherever we need to go. {the lever moves on its own and the TARDIS takes off}.

(Originally Reviewed May 14, 2011)

Monday, May 11, 2015

Henry Mills and the Alternate Universe of DOOM!

Review/Recap of Once Upon A Time 4.22-4.23 "Operation Mongoose 1 & 2" - SPOILERS!

Isaac Heller's boss at the beginning was exactly right. He really doesn't write stories that anyone wants to read.

The first half of this two-part episode really didn't do much for me (other than the subtle shout-out to Walt Disney having been the previous Author at the beginning. He died in December 1966, which is why the cold open where Isaac becomes the Author takes place at that time ~*~The More You Know~*~) I didn't really buy into the whole "Snow White as the Evil Queen" thing they were trying to sell me (might as well just say it - Ginnifer Goodwin does not do evil villainous anything very well). I did like bandit!Regina teaming up with Robin Hood, though. And if Zelena hadn't showed up to ruin that moment, I would have enjoyed it even more.

Part Two, however, is when things get really interesting. Mostly because that's when Henry finds Captain Hook (who is merely cowardly deckhand Hook - yeah, Rumple sure did a number on him there) and they go off to find Emma in the Tower of Characters the Villains Want Forgotten. Which becomes a little more ironic by the end of the episode.

Actually, everything with Emma and Hook in the alternate Enchanted Forest was great. Even though Hook is merely a shell of his former self - but it was Emma's turn to be his personal motivational speaker - and it worked great!

Until Evil!Charming stabbed him dead and pretty much broke every heart in the land (every heart that matters, anyway). By that time, I was yelling for Emma to fix this hellish reality and get back to 1955 and destroy the Sports Almanac and put everything back to the way it was supposed to be.

(Huh - if last year's finale is Back to the Future, then this is probably meant to be Back to the Future Part II. Which means next year... they've got to get a Wild West motif in there somehow... Interesting...)

The one part that REALLY got me emotional, though... Probably not the one you think (if you've been following my reviews of Once Upon A Time this season). The ending was rough - no question. But that's TV for you. They have to set up intense cliffhangers so the next season has something interesting and compelling to work with. And very few things are going to be more compelling than Team Storybrooke looking for Emma and getting her out of the grasp of the Darkness (oh, who am I kidding? I'm mostly looking forward to the intense Captain Swan drama and angst that will come of this. What can I say? I like seeing my favorite characters suffer - makes for a good story).

But my favorite part - particularly since we've been following Emma and Hook and I've been pleading for their True Love story to work out - was when Emma admitted that she loves Hook, but it's after he was killed and now it's too late for her to do anything about it. BUT - they're still in the Alternate Universe Crapsack World, and they can still change things.

Fast forward to getting out of the Alternate Universe Crapsack World and everyone's okay and fine - and Killian is just peachy too. Emma runs up to tackle him and oh so nearly says those three magical little words - and SHE CAN'T DO IT!

I guess that's reality for you. Even after losing Hook in the alternate world and being upset that she never got to tell him how she felt - when she was back in the real world and he was fine and everyone was happy... she still didn't tell him. Her nerve completely failed her and she couldn't tell him. And... that just sucked.

(On the other hand, still means we have more to look forward to, right?)

What else - Henry's now the Author (CALLED IT!) He may have broken the quill, but his newfound power is going to come back and be useful again. That's my theory and I'm sticking to it! (hey, if they can de-youthify Pinocchio and bring August back for the sake of a plotline, Author!Henry is going to happen).

Black Swan

So - Emma's now the Dark One and she's gone to who-knows-where. And Team Storybrooke is on their way to find Merlin so he can destroy the Dark One for good (but not Emma, because I will cut a bitch if that is the case). Rumple is sans-darkness, which is going to be an interesting development (he's going to be an entirely new character, so if any of you still enjoyed rat-bastard-Dark-One-Rumple... tough turtles). Belle told Rumple what we ALL were screaming since "A Tale of Two Sisters" clear back in September - that he could have had his happiness in Storybrooke without trying to destroy anybody (blah).

Next year - I guess Lily will still be around to create another unnecessary sideshow (...whoo).

Season 4 Wrap-Up

Here's my thought as I was watching this - the Author storyline was kind of a bust. At least, as far as it was with everyone stuck in Storybrooke. I think it would have worked MUCH better if everyone was actually IN the Enchanted Forest while the story was being changed. Like - at the beginning of the story arc, Rumple (or whoever) sent everyone back to the book and the goal was to change the story from there. Forget all this Queens of Darkness crap - just find the Author, establish that he's a conniving weasel and make him the bad guy in all of this (though Ursula and Cruella were cool - but they didn't do anything with them. And this Maleficent suffered the same defanging fate as the Angelina Jolie version, which is entirely too unfortunate).

Frozen was amazing. I loved Once's version of Elsa and Anna and the inclusion of the Snow Queen. Sadly, they couldn't keep that magic going throughout the rest of the season, which is a shame. The second half of the finale kind of messed with my emotions, but that was because there was so much Captain Swan goodness and angst (and, really, I've missed them for the past few episodes, so it was like depriving a child of sugar for so long and then suddenly letting them run wild in the candy store).

I hope Season 5 does well, honestly. I hope we get some new and exciting character arcs and they let some of these others rest for a time (I could do without so much Rumple. And even Regina's getting a bit tired and worn, especially her Evil Queen persona). I'm looking forward to some new material with characters that haven't gotten much love lately. But I'm not going to get my hopes up.

If anyone but Killian Jones saves Emma Swan, however, things will be thrown. That is all.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Out With a Whimper

Review/Recap of Once Upon a Time Episode 4.20 "Mother" - SPOILERS

Dear Once Upon a Time - What. The. Hell. Happened??

Last season I was so excited for the season finale! The back half of Season 3 was so fun and entertaining and the finale had so much promise for goodness. This year, you cashed in all your chips on Frozen and 4B pretty much has sucked all the way through (barring a few light moments). All I have to say going into next week's finale is THANK GOODNESS THIS IS OVER!!

Seriously - this story arc was pretty painful to endure. Sure, it had it's promising moments and its bright spots, but on the whole... it went a whole lotta nowhere.

I suppose it's fitting that the Enchanted Forest flashbacks involved a colossal continuity monkey wrench in bringing Cora back to the storyline. When I heard that Regina's mother was coming back, this is what I predicted she would do: *whine, whine, bitch, "Regina, you're not good enough for anything or anyone, let me run your life" blah, blah, blah.* And I was right, wasn't I? With an added bonus of "I care about your happiness, but not really" - I just... I was done with Cora a loooooong time ago. How many times do we have to repeat this thing with Regina and Cora? WE GET IT ALREADY! THEY HAVE A CRAPPY RELATIONSHIP! YOU HAVE SUFFICIENTLY BEAT THAT DEAD HORSE INTO THE GROUND!

I guess since Neal is dead, they have to pound that other tired old parent-child dynamic into dust too.

(We still have Regina's mother coming back to be a cackly bitch - YET AGAIN - but we can't even get a flashback to Captain Hook's childhood? Learn what his parents were like? Especially since he gave that beautiful pep talk to Emma about trusting parents that want the best for you? Or even give Belle another pre-Rumple flashback. I mean, they've got SO MANY other characters to play around with, why keep coming back to these ones that we are more than finished with??)

(It's just a complaint I have about this show. When they take on new characters and cover new territory, they do really well. But when they keep covering old ground that's been dealt with and done already - I'm just over it).

Back to the grind -

Emma comes back to Storybrooke with Regina and Lily and Zelena in tow. Hook is delightedly rubbing it in Rumple's face that Emma didn't turn dark (oh gee - WHO COULD HAVE PREDICTED THIS? Rumple's half-assed villainous plan falling to pieces?) Emma has a tender reunion with Henry and Killian and summarily ignores her parents (understandable). Maleficent is introduced to her daughter (don't care - they've successfully de-clawed Mal as it is and I've completely lost interest). Regina carts Zelena off to the lock-up loony bin under Storybrooke General Hospital. and then goes off to find the Author.

I do like that the Author is a fan of Regina - so much so that he created officially-unofficial fanfic in which Regina and Robin end up together in the Enchanted Forest (that's what that random illustration was). And he's happy to create her happy ending - except he needs magic ink, which can only be made from the blood of a Dark Savior (rather specific - how did he get it in the Enchanted Forest? How many Dark Saviors were there running around Fairy Tale Land?) Regina (smartly) gets blood from Lily, since she has all of Emma's darkness (which - I still call bullshit on that plot point). But then Regina backs out at the last minute - thereby FINALLY illustrating the lesson that I've been shouting at these characters - that it's not what fate or the Author or anybody else gives you. Your destiny is what you make it!

Really, this whole story arc has been much ado about a fat load of nothing. We had a couple of great episodes with Ursula and Cruella - but they were written out without warning. Maleficent wasn't that interesting. I didn't care about Lily at all. The idea of an Anti-Savior as a foil to Emma is intriguing, but they didn't do anything with that. Just one episode of "Will Emma shoot her childhood friend?" (come on, guys - that's wasn't going to happen) and then this anti-climatic crap which proves that we already knew what would happen.

Next week is a two-part adventure within the "Heroes and Villains" book, so Season 4 is pretty much over. And here is my assessment - Frozen was amazing! I will watch the Frozen story arc all day everyday. Elsa and Anna were a beautiful addition to what OUAT already established. The Snow Queen was a perfect follow-up to the Oz storyline. Snow White's involvement was kept to a minimum, which probably helped things tremendously. and, excepting the pitiful treatment of the fallout of Rumple taking Hook's heart, those 11 episodes were handled quite well.

Queens of Darkness was neither about the Queens, nor darkness. It was unfocused and spotty and had no point to it. Villains like Regina and Hook are pretty well reformed characters. Rumple is a complete asshole and I don't care that his heart is just about dead. Now, if you want to play up the danger of having a Dark One without Rumple's conscience to hold him back... well, you should have done something more than throw that out there at the last minute. It was a complete cop-out and explained nothing. There were good parts, but the whole was lacking (sort of like what happened with Neverland - a lot of build-up, lots of expectation, zero payoff).

You know what this story arc is like? (and apologies for bringing THIS travesty against fiction up) It's like the end of Breaking Dawn (the final Twilight book). There was this great big build up to this GINORMOUS EPIC VAMPIRE (and werewolf) BATTLE. And then... it just didn't happen. Everyone changed their minds and went home. It's pretty much the greatest disappointment in all of the history of storytelling and beyond (if you have anything worse to compare it to, I'd love to hear about it).

Next Week - Rumple becomes Charming, Snow becomes the Evil Queen (and my eyes roll right out of my head), Emma becomes the Dark One (that's my guess), Hook gets that gorgeous black velvet vest back. Okay - I guess it isn't a total wash.

(Ugh - I hope this finally gets the "ZOMG Snow White can be TEH EBIL!" out of their system, 'cause I STILL ain't buyin' what they're sellin'. As far as I'm concerned, she's still Pretty Perfect Princess Lollipop Rainbow Sparklepoo.)