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Author Topic: Doctor Who: 2013 Season  (Read 3578 times)

Geoff the head Uncle

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Doctor Who: 2013 Season
« on: March 30, 2013, 01:51:41 PM »
Doctor Who: 2013 Season

observations by: GF Willmetts



   As with the SFCrowsnest Forum in recent years and this time there and here on the SFCrowsnest.org.uk, my comments on the latest season of ‘Doctor Who’. These will mostly be impressions – here’s my Doctor one, still ‘Geronimo!’ – rather than intensional plot spoilers. If you’re living in a country that hasn’t seen these episodes yet, read with caution but I’m not going to give too much away. If you can watch it first, that’s even better.

The Bells Of St John by Steven Moffat            30 March 2013

   The title is a bit of a misnomer as it doesn’t have anything to do with the story other than the unexplained reason why the Doctor went clerical back in 1207.
   I’m glad I don’t use Wi-Fi. Those of you who do and press any unfamiliar option, take this story as a suitable option to break the habit.
   Clara Oswald is still a governess of sorts. I suspect show-runner Steven Moffat is creating an arc to see if you can out-think either him or the Doctor although  I doubt if there’s any free trips in the TARDIS if you do. I do have one particular ponderance as to her multitudes. Expand her abbreviated initials.
   The intro music has returned the rather distinctive original bass guitar beat into the mix.
   The plot revolves around a being whom we don’t see until the end wanting to download personalities into its mind cloud for some nefarious use. It selects Clara Oswald and the Doctor has to rescue her. The head of the operation, doesn’t even have a name until the end which considerably reduces her overall threat value. Beware of spoon-headed people.
   Watch how both the Doctor and Clara type as neither of them appear to have head of a space key. Where the Doctor is concerned, he seems to have taken a leaf out of ‘Independence Day’ and got a programming language without downloading anything.
   I do like the new aspect of the new TARDIS console, that being the musical roundabout top. It’s lost a lower level and gained a lot level to it instead.
   A bit puzzled how considering that in past regenerations the Doctor could fly anything and yet this time have difficulty with a conventional aircraft.
   Oh, you have seen the real villain last season. Is that enough of a spoiler.
   The show still moves along at breakneck speed, so if you’re going to think about anything, it pays to do it after the show. I really wish they’d get away from the frustrated sexual attraction thing that’s been added in the new shows. It didn’t need it in the original series run. It’s an interesting start but also looks like a giveaway about the true menace behind the entire season. The Doctor doesn’t seem to care who was behind it. Maybe his years are catching up with him.
GF Willmetts

Geoff the head Uncle

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Re: Doctor Who: 2013 Season
« Reply #1 on: April 07, 2013, 03:13:44 AM »
Doctor Who - 2013 Season: The Rings Of Akhata by Neil Cross      06 April 2013

   Anyone else thinking it’s getting a bit pervy with the Doctor doing a personal history check on companions he’s going to take time travelling? This isn’t the first time. Look at Rose Tyler, Martha Jones and Amy Pond. Yes, there’s an argument that he doesn’t want to take anyone who could have repercussions if missed from history but he only looks in the past, not to their future.
   Did anyone else spot Peter Davison appearing briefly in the opening credits?
   It’s interesting that the Doctor mentions his grand-daughter to Clara on Akhata. I suspect we’re going to get a lot more hints that will lead up to the 50th anniversary show of the earlier shows.
   The rescue of Merry, Queen of Years, could have been done more efficiently had he used the TARDIS than a hired flying craft but the story would have ended at half time, although the time could have been used more effectively. What is a puzzle is that the Doctor and Clara are essentially going to attack or defy a god and yet all those watching don’t even go on the offensive. Granted that it would have doubled the length of the story but it shows the difference to what would have happened in the early years.
  Instead, we have a soul vampire and its ‘grand-father’ energy being, who are again opponents who can’t speak or at least not in English being translated by the TARDIS’ internal mechanism. I’m beginning to think that either ‘Doctor Who’ is getting metaphysical (odd for a family show, do you think either the kids or parents have to explain it to each other) or they’re afraid to give definable foes that we can all understand?
  In many respects, the resolution of the story is also done in a passive way. The delightful Merry (actress Emilia Jones) sings a song and the Doctor and Clara share their memories. End of story. Literally. Hardly a means to stop a monster capable of destroying seven worlds and then desiring to go on and work on the rest of the galaxy.
  It makes the story too easy rather than something that should be intriguing and indeed menacing. Hands up any of you who contemplated hiding behind the sofa? If you want something to think about, just what did the Doctor do when he left Clara’s side?
  Part of me thinks, especially looking at the small cast list, that this story was done to conserve the budget so one can only hope there’s some improvement in the later stories.
GF Willmetts



Geoff the head Uncle

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Re: Doctor Who: 2013 Season
« Reply #2 on: April 13, 2013, 12:46:58 PM »
Doctor Who - 2013 Season: Cold War by Mark Gatiss            13 April 2013

   Frozen Ice Warrior freed from his block of ice harkens back to the 1960s ‘The Seeds Of Death’ with shades of ‘The Thing’ and then when it gets out of its armour to ‘Alien’ but not really adding anything from any.
   Did Grand Marshall Skaldak have a grasp of Russian from the TARDIS’ language translation circuit even after it dematerialised? There’s also a secondary problem, if he was so high-ranking, why didn’t he resemble the smaller version as seen in the original ‘The Curse Of Peladon’ story? Then again, saying Skaldak was in a mechanoid body probably gives a cop-out that he was ready for action. The problem with this ‘cybernetic body armour’ makes the Ice Warriors have stronger similarities to the Daleks than the Cybermen.
   If Armageddon is so close, what about established moments in time and there are more beyond 1983 that couldn’t be messed with that the Doctor clearly would know about? This regeneration is clearly losing his effectiveness between seasons that I’m wondering if he is actually the Time Lord. I mean any earlier regeneration would have disabled the nuclear missiles without waiting for the Ice Warriors to do it and showing some clear senility or he’s not the real one. The distraction is wondering what Clara is rather than wondering what or should I saw who the Doctor is?
   There are a lot of wasted opportunities here just to disrobe an Ice Warrior, which we also never clearly see other than head and arms, who will no doubt be shown to be an off-shoot of the Silurians now which doesn’t sound so crazy as it might seem considering that they survived the original Ice Age.
   With the season already in the bag, I hope thoughts for the next season are towards making stronger plots than the fluff that is developing here. There’s far too much character moments than strong plots which ‘Doctor Who’ clearly needs for 50 minute episodes.
GF Willmetts


Geoff the head Uncle

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Re: Doctor Who: 2013 Season
« Reply #3 on: April 20, 2013, 01:57:33 PM »
Doctor Who - 2013 Season: Hide by Neil Cross         20 April 2013

  After the last few episodes, it’s finally great to have a story with some flesh on the bones. It’s even better than Neil Cross’ first story, ‘The Rings Of Akhata’ this season. I wonder which one was written first but is understandable why he got two bites at the cherry. Oh, the name used in earlier ‘Doctor Who’ season ‘Radio Times’ summary as ‘Hide Me’ is wrong. No ‘Me’! He’s also not a novice as his IMDB profile lists him having written for ‘[Spooks]’, ‘The Fixer’ and ‘Luther’ so has some pedigree even if not in SF. Potentially, he could even be Moffat’s replacement a couple years down the line.
  What starts off as a ghost story becomes essentially a rescue mission for the Doctor and Clara of a time traveller trying to get attention. Strictly speaking, that isn’t a spoiler as this isn’t exactly a new idea. Having them trapped in a pocket universe and being sensed by empaths puts some sense into it though.
  I did wonder from the start why the Doctor chose to appear in 1974. After all his third and four regenerations were pretty active in this time period on Earth so why didn’t they sense it? Maybe the third regeneration did. There are a lot of references to ‘Planet Of The Spiders’ here, including using a Metabelis 3 blue crystal to enhance Emma Grayling’s ability. It would explain the third regeneration Doctor’s sudden interest in ESP only he wasn’t in the right place or time yet. There was also a little matter of him also being damaged, lost for three months and regenerating for the fourth time. Having his tenth regeneration on Earth in that time would explain why he couldn’t return on time. Makes me wonder if Neil Cross had thought of that even if he didn’t use that info in the story.
  There are still many layers to this story and even the non-speaking ‘monster’ has a different agenda. The Doctor’s own purpose there wasn’t even to solve the mystery but get Emma Grayling’s empathic reaction from Clara to see what she was.
  Spooky stories like this are a good argument for ‘Doctor Who’ to be shown in the late autumn as to the well lit spring when you’re less likely to be…er…spooked.
  Neil Cross’ assessment of what empaths are being loners and reflect other people’s emotions shows some research on the subject. Mind you, I haven’t spotted any ghosts yet.
  This doesn’t mean to say that there aren’t some pitfalls in this story. Small cast but little done to establish the characters to the viewer, not helped by not calling them by name in the dialogue because it just turns them into background fodder and wasting two known actors, Dougray Scott and Jessica Raine, that any lesser known actors could have fulfilled. The Doctor running and admitting he’s afraid or scared is also uncharacteristic. The Time Lord’s faced off Daleks and Cybermen for Illuminatii’s sake. Ghosts and monsters aren’t likely to scare him. He negotiates not jumps out of his skin. As to the time traveller? Obviously, there’s no requirement for her to go home but this Doctor doesn’t even ask if he can drop her off anywhere or why she was time travelling in the first place. She isn’t even a really significant player. Surely any time traveller has to have more to do with things if she was travelling in the first place.
  Then there’s the cloister bell ringing from the TARDIS. That’s only happened a few times in the past. First heard with fourth regeneration (Tom Baker phase if you can’t count) and more recently in the Tennant regeneration and the vampires although this time the time is only to the TARDIS’ danger to itself which as demonstrated wasn’t really that much of a danger.
  The TARDIS is also running on autopilot twice to a place where it admits that it can only do so for a few seconds. Yes, this is a reference to the Neil Gaiman story ‘The Doctor’s Wife’ but it’s giving it abilities akin to the Doctor’s sonic screwdriver which really ought to be kerbed before it becomes a get out of time free card.
  As I said, a vast improvement on the other stories in this season but not perfect.
GF Willmetts
April 2013

Geoff the head Uncle

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Re: Doctor Who: 2013 Season
« Reply #4 on: April 27, 2013, 01:12:28 PM »
Doctor Who - 2013 Season: Journey To The Centre Of The TARDIS by Steve Thompson      27 April 2013
  Is it becoming standard practice for the Doctor to coach all his companions in how to pilot the TARDIS? More so odd when you consider that the Doctor is still trying to work out just what Clara is?
  Even reducing the TARDIS’ functions down to the basics for the lesson can’t have been the first time that he’s done this, if you consider the number of other companions who have had similar lessons.
  We do see a lot more of the TARDIS, albeit briefly. This includes the swimming pool and the library and briefly Clara becomes one more, River Pond being the other, who knows the Doctor’s real name. Is that a hint that the revelation in the 50th anniversary that we will be told who the Doctor is? I hope that’s not the case because then we’ll be calling him something different to the Doctor and break the myth about the character.
  Having a room where anything can be created on the TARDIS, one has to wonder why the TARDIS ever needed a mercury fluid link although, granted, it wasn’t working properly with the earlier regenerations.
  It is also odd that when Gregor Van Baalen steals a component, why doesn’t the Doctor simply pull it out of the back of his haversack and put it back and stop the problem?
  Considering that the Doctor is supposed to be sympathetic to the TARDIS, it does seem odd that his connection to it is lost with the disruption. I’m also puzzled that the Doctor describes the interior as having infinite space when it shed consider amounts of its mass in the fifth regeneration although who’s to say it didn’t regrow after being repaired.
  One thing you would have thought the TARDIS would have is a tannoy system and at least some form of monitor system to look around the place. Then again, considering the temporal displacement, that might explain why that wouldn’t have worked but it is a missing detail.
  There are some good points. The main one is walking around and getting back to where you started is cleverly done even if it has shades of ‘The Avengers’ 60s story, ‘The House That Jack Built’.
  The Doctor is also being deceitful again than rely on his expertise in everything. This might be seen as a problem with the scriptwriters. If so, wouldn’t it make sense to have a scientific advisor to at least add the necessary dimension to their deficiency.
  As to the other members of the cast. Although I applaud the use of a black cast, they are awfully stereotyped as being illegal scavengers using banned devices. They are barely out of the ghetto for Illuminatii’s sake. Surely, we can and be better than this?!
  For a bottle show, it will end up being noted as one of the rare stories where there is no villain of the piece. Despite some revelations, there is also the re-set button so little of it is remembered so is essentially treading water, albeit heavy water.
  Am I being too critical of this season? Someone’s not paying attention or there’s too much budget conservation and dumbing down. There really needs to have some more meat on the plots than there has been so far.
GF Willmetts
April 2013



Geoff the head Uncle

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Re: Doctor Who: 2013 Season
« Reply #5 on: May 04, 2013, 12:49:57 PM »
Doctor Who - 2013 Season: The Crimson Horror by Mark Gatiss      04 May 2013
  The return of the Siliurian Vastra (actress Neve Mcintosh), her human female wife Jenny Flint (actress Catrin Stewart) and bodyguard/chauffeur Sontaran Strax (actor Dan Starkey) is something that I was waiting for and not disappointed. Not too sure about humans fainting when they see Vastra and Strax though, because that becomes as much over-used as the Doctor’s sonic screwdriver.  However, they really do need a series of their own to flourish because they essentially carried this episode until the Doctor appeared. Imagine what would happen if they took over Torchwood as it surely must have existed in 1893!
  As to the main gist of the plot where Mrs. Gillyflower arranges for people to enter her factory and turned into dummies, this has too much in common with ‘Carry On Screaming’. How many of you were prepared to cry out, ‘Frying tonight’?
  Considering the toxicity of the leech venom, I’m surprised that the Doctor hadn’t absorbed enough to regenerate.
  Tonight’s reference to the past is to Tegan Jovanka and never getting her to London Airport. Biggest disappointment is returning Clara back to her own time and job. Doesn’t this go against the Doctor wanting to find out who or what she is? Having companions safe after an adventure sorta removes the danger issue although it looks like it’s a set-up for the next story. Speaking of which, there is far too much reveal of the next story.
  There are some good points to this story. Diana Rigg as Mrs. Gillyflower and her daughter as a part and real life, Ada played by Rachel Sterling weren’t short-changed with dialogue or action. It’s a shame that more wasn’t done to explain their purpose other than to conquer the world. Judging by the number of extras and scenes used, I can’t help wondering if short-changing the earlier stories allowed more to be spent here.
  This story might not be perfect but is actually probably the best of the bunch so far.
GF Willmetts
May 2013

« Last Edit: May 11, 2013, 02:03:16 PM by Geoff the head Uncle »

Geoff the head Uncle

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Re: Doctor Who: 2013 Season
« Reply #6 on: May 11, 2013, 02:03:43 PM »
Doctor Who - 2013 Season: Nightmare In Silver by Neil Gaiman      11 May 2013
  Considering the Doctor is supposed to be in control of his TARDIS, it does seem odd that it takes him, Clara and her two charges (that’s the children that’s she’s governess or nanny to for those outside the UK) to a defunct world-wide fun park rather than when it was populated, but that’s budgets for you.
  With elements of cyberpunk, you can’t help but notice touches of ‘Blade Runner’. One almost expects to see J.F. Sebastian’s robots to come out of the woodwork. Well, nearly, as we do get the superb Warwick Davies playing Porridge. Love to see how parents explain to their sprogs that having someone hidden playing the game was how people cheated with early automatons. Until the revelation at the end, I would have loved to see him become a companion to the Doctor, mostly as a voice of sanity.
  There’s no big reveal that the Cybermen are back this time, looking sleeker than the earlier versions, but this is one of their ultimate forms, assimilating more like the Borg than before. Sometime someone has to find out what happened to the Telos version and would they have come into conflict with the human version. Makes you wonder how far into the future this adventure happened. More so, that the means to destroy them wasn’t also employed against the Daleks or why didn’t they wipe the Cybermen out themselves?
  The Cybermats seem to be have been replaced by the Cybermites. Are we going to see Cybergerms next? Now that would really get under your skin. They are still mostly leaderless. Even the one that tries to dominate the Doctor only gets a little smarter because it locks onto the Time Lord.
  Unlike the other episodes in this season, Matt Smith gets a chance to really act, even if it must have driven him crazy to be be…well, two-minded. Any of you people out there work out the chess moves that were being used, let me know. Would be interested to see how valid a game it was.
  Clara being nicknamed the Impossible Girl and getting to know a little more about the Doctor’s interest in her should be moving her story along but all she’s really worried about is seeing him the following Wednesday. Doesn’t she realise that in temporal terms, it’s only a moment away for the TARDIS?
  Tonight’s reference to the past is to see inside the Doctor’s brain and all his earlier regenerations. Firmly established as ten now, making the Hartnell version the first and no more than a kid, time and relatively speaking, when he fled Gallifrey. Oh, there was also a sly reference to the ‘Tomb Of The Cybermen’ story.
  In some respects, scriptwriter Neil Gaiman is getting to grips with writing ‘Doctor Who’ this time around. It’s either that or this story has more flesh and bones compared to the rest this season. He does manage to pack a lot in, even if there is no grief for the victims of the Cybermen attack.
  It looks like there was more money spent on this episode which might explain the sparseness of the earlier stories. The trend for no real villainy by the enemy is getting worrying. The Cybermen are mimicking the Daleks as a single enemy with one desire only. It makes the Telos version look far more dangerous. The Doctor really does need some intelligence adversaries. Really needs an upgrade.
GF Willmetts
May 2013

Geoff the head Uncle

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Re: Doctor Who: 2013 Season
« Reply #7 on: May 18, 2013, 01:46:27 PM »
The Name Of The Doctor by Steven Moffat            18 May 2013
  Now this is more like it and confirms my earlier thoughts about the earlier episodes conserving budget as I doubt the likes of Richard E. Grant, the Victorian Trio, the fabulous Alex Kingston and, well, spoilers for the last name and it would hurt to tell you collectively wouldn’t have come cheap on the budget or certainly have bitten heavily into it.
  Although I’m avoiding giving away the plot here, even giving my thoughts on some aspects is definitely going to be spoiler. If you don’t want to read it, don’t go further unti you’ve watched the story.
  It’s rather interesting with the opening sequence that we see cameoed in sequence order: William Hartnell and Carole Anne Ford, Tom Baker, Sylvester McCoy, Jon Pertwee, Patrick Troughton and Peter Davison. Oddly, not Colin Baker (his costume later in the story), Paul McGann and David Tennant (although as we know he’s going to be in the anniversary story in November that might be excused). Probably the best establishment shot is confirming that Susan was on Gallifrey so is a Time Lady. Hands up all those of who whooped on that bit of information on the screen.
  From London 1883 to 2013, another alternative to establishing connecting across the centuries. Probably the most interesting is this isn’t the current River Song but gives obvious hints that she has to return to the series for at least a season at some time.
  Probably the biggest question is the title of this story and although other names are revealed, including the Valeyard, then I’m glad that it’s not revealed. We already know that River Song knows and although she says it, we don’t hear it, let alone why the Doctor chooses to keep it a close secret. Thinking about this, I suspect it has to do with something that happened on Gallifrey rather than off his home world or why else would the likes of the Monk, the Master and the Rani also not have their true names. As they are all renegades, can I surmise that it’s because they were all rebellious renegades and had their real names stripped from them. If you are burning with curiosity, the Doctor’s real name was given in the 70s ‘The Making Of Doctor Who’ book but you would have to be able to read Gallifrey heliographics to pronounce it. If you refer back to ‘The Armageddon Factor’, Drax, another Gallifreyan but failed to made Time Lord grade identified the Doctor by his college name. If nothing else, it shows that Time Lords don’t keep the same name throughout their regenerations. Maybe having an active title serves them better.
  The reveal for Clara is…er…revealed and soon as the Great Intelligence decided to undo the Doctor’s victories, it was pretty obvious what was going to happen next. There is a problem with this. Go back to the first 1963 adventures, had the Doctor failed with the primitive man, let alone the Daleks, he would certainly have been killed. Ergo, the Great Intelligence would only need to go to one destination and bye, bye Doctor. Indeed, it would even be before the televised adventures just after he left Gallifrey. Mind you, time is so convoluted, not to mention the reset of the universe a couple seasons back, that all regenerations can co-exist in some way. That would explain the odd times when several regenerations could interact for a story but it does leave a grey area as to why the Great Intelligence couldn’t have done a ‘Genesis Of The Daleks’ and simply have stopped the Doctor and Susan leaving Gallifrey in the first place.
  A very metaphysical story and the set-up for the end for November is going to have you riveted to your seats come that Saturday. This story certainly makes up for the rest of the season. I just hope it reminds show-runner Steven Moffat that using this one as a template that we really do need some better structured stories with some well-defined foes for the Doctor to defeat with his wits more than his sonic screwdriver. Although he used it in this story, it wasn’t fundamental to the solution.
  That’s not to say it’s perfect. Having the Doctor fooled by the children Clara looks after is definitely too stupid. Can anyone honestly say that a Time Lord smart enough to out-wit the most dangerous species in the universe would fall for such a thing because he wasn’t familiar with humans?
  However, in the most important way, this story has made me want to see what happens next so although this isn’t a finale, it has all the makings of a two-parter. Where’s my TARDIS, going to move forward to November.

GF Willmetts
May 2013


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Re: Doctor Who: 2013 Season
« Reply #7 on: May 18, 2013, 01:46:27 PM »