Thursday, August 28, 2014

Update Me: Poets of the Fall, "Daze"

I'm actually a little behind on this one. I too have suffered at the hands of Facebook's habit of NOT SHOWING POSTS FROM PEOPLE I'D LIKE TO SEE THEM FROM.

Anywho. Poets of the Fall is probably my favorite band of all time. I could wax philosophical, but simply put, I friggin' love their shit. So, why am I telling you this? They released the first single from their upcoming album, entitled "Jealous Gods," (to be released September 19) which is a bitch-ass title. The song is called 'Daze,' and if you've never seen any of their music videos before, you're in for both a visual and musical treat. 


P.S. sorry about not posting a Throwback Thursday post (Thor 2: The Dark World was planned) but I had to attend the performing arts Major's Meeting tonight, and by the time that was finished, I didn't have the heart to watch a two-hour long movie. I promise all twenty of you who've been reading my blog this week, I WILL POST TOMORROW. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

On Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

Okay, so I'd never had any experience with Sin City until today. I never had much a reason, I just never got around to it. So I guess, at the end of the day, I'm not really a fan of either film. They're really stupid, but that's okay. They're chalk full of brutal violence, but that's okay. They're full of scantily clad women, but that's okay. 

My real problem has more to do with the source material. Not even the material, no ... just the source. Frank Miller is ... colorful to say the least. Or, one might say he's a misogynistic, homophobic fascist, and unfortunately, whatever qualities his works might have going for them, for me, personally, they're overshadowed by that. 

Suffice it to say, I find the man distasteful. And to put it bluntly, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For ... ugh. 

Most Idiotic Review

"I think it's almost as good as the first one. If you want to see a Sin City movie, that is exactly what you get." — Doug Walker 
Wow, Doug ... I'm sorry. I just ... I'm so sorry, but I disagree so hard ... oh well. So it goes. 

Most Accurate Review

"This is Rodriguez's second sequel in a row in which he turns sex, violence and exploitation into an occasional for dullness. For a film loaded with decapitations and gun-toting ladies in bondage gear, Sin City gets really tedious really quickly." — Alonso Duralde (The Wrap) 

This is one of the few times I checked the reviews before stepping into the movie. I really wasn't sure how it could be this bad, you know? I thought this might be a case where I and the critics really just didn't agree. That said ... well, I really agree. 

What I Say

The more of this movie I watched, the more I hated it. I actually haven't hated a movie like this ... wow, Turtles didn't piss me off this badly. That's how badly I reacted to this movie. Wow. Just wow. 

Plot — Well, we have two main stories. There's Joseph Gordon-Levitt who ... gah, I'm getting frustrated already. Okay, he's a lucky gambler who always wins and comes to Sin City to test his luck. And there's Josh Brolin who is playing as Clive Owen's character from the first film and they do a really shitty job establishing it's the same character. I didn't realize it until halfway through when Rosario Dawson reappears and recognizes him, cause I sure as hell didn't. Josh Brolin is caught up with Eva Green's character, a classic Femme Fatale, who ... wants power? I wasn't too clear on what exactly she wanted. 

The plots themselves aren't horrible, but the pacing in this movie is god-awful, and all those reviewers saying they were checking their watches? Seriously spent the majority of the time doing just that. Man. They tried to recreate the multiple storylines element from the previous movie, but except maybe Joseph Gordon-Levitt's, none of them are that interesting, but his is horribly anticlimactic. 

Jessica Alba's storyline, on the other hand, pisses me off to no end. Apparently, without her man, Bruce Willis in her life, she descends into alcohol and eventually self-mutilation. I really hate this kind of storytelling. One could argue it's just in character, but I'll argue it stinks of sexism, and knowing Frank Miller's history? I'm pretty secure in making that argument. 

The individual stories climax on their own time, contributing to the flawed pacing. In the first film, each climax felt like it was building toward a grander finale, or at least a personal, character driven one. I think that's what they were going for here, but I feel like they sidestepped success on that one.

Character — Okay, so we have some returning faces. Jessica Alba is back ... for the last half hour mostly. Marv returns, but he's sidelined as random muscle for the majority of the film. Josh Brolin plays Clive Owen's part from the first movie (I'm noticing that outside Marv ... I really don't know any of these characters' names) and while his arc takes up most of the first half of the film, I found myself far less invested than I expected to be. All in all ... a hodgepodge mess.

Spectacle — I will give the film credit, it is a violent, stylized, noir-fest ... but I don't think it's good. There is a distinct lack of pop, however you want to interpret that. At the end of the day, I suppose the film just really failed to grab me (like the first one did) leaving me with a muddled story and undertones of Frank Miller's insanity. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Terrible Tuesday: On Star Trek Into Darkness

Like with Inception, I'm stretching my definition of 'terrible' this Tuesday. However, that does not really make this movie good. It has a flawed structure, a dull villain (or two), and a nigh incomprehensible plot. I'm really getting sick of movies nowadays trying to spruce things up with complications over complexities. Just because you can hardly track what's going on doesn't make it complex, just confusing. In this case, I'm mainly referring to the villain's ultimate goal, which he goes about achieving in a woefully questionable way.

Most Idiotic Review

"Visually spectacular and suitably action packed, Star Trek Into Darkness is a rock-solid installment in the venerable sci-fi franchise ...." — Rotten Tomatoes site consensus

Most Accurate Review

"If only the script actually made sense ..." — Keith Decandido (

Yeah ... that. 
Who cares about the script making sense?
What I Say

Before I begin, I want just say, this review is coming out of me when I'm not at my best. My  new semester just started yesterday and I've already run myself a bit ragged trying to keep up with the schedule that I have only myself to blame for creating. Normally I'd rewatch the entire film before throwing down with it, but frankly, I didn't like this movie nearly enough to sit through it again, having seen it at least three times I can think of off the top of my head. 
I won't really delve into the film today, so much as what's stupid about it. Somewhere out there, I know I just made someone very happy. The villain, played by Peter Weller, has a pretty stupid plan as to start a war with the Klingons in order to ... prevent a war. Smooth. His mentality is that war is inevitable, but he wants it on his terms. 

The way he goes about this is so painful I don't even like thinking about it. He manipulates Kirk into going after Khan (they try and fail for a reveal of this, but there were few if no people who didn't see it coming), and tries to get him to fire Khan's crew (secretly housed in torpedoes) at the planet to kill Khan. Then he rigs the ship to stall. Then, when he finds out they didn't kill Khan, he shows up himself ... and tries to kill everyone. 

I love villains who think they're the good guys, since I find them the most believable and the most interesting ... Admiral Marcus is not one of these villains. His plan is very solidly in mustache twirler area, and the attempts to change that really fail. He comes across less sympathetic than Khan, even when one considers Khan's acts of terrorism at the end of the film when he crashes a Starship into Starfleet headquarters. Khan is actually fairly sympathetic all in all, but I'll get to that later.

Outside the stupidity of the plot, we also have a few other things crammed down our throat. Kirk fires Scotty for reasons that at first seem really stupid, which are confirmed when it's revealed the writers just needed Scotty off the Enterprise so he could go do other things. 

They reverse the end of Wrath of Khan, putting Kirk in Spock's place, and reverse even their lines. It really doesn't work. Instead of hearkening to the original scene and then deviating to explore their own themes and their own character relationships (this Spock and Kirk do not have the same relationship as their Wrath of Khan counterparts), the identical dialogue just resonates wrong. It forces you to compare it to the original, which is unfair to Into Darkness. 

There's plenty else to complain about in terms of inconsistencies (I tend to blame Lindelof for the majority of these, since I almost always have a bone to pick with that guy), like 'needing' Khan's super-blood when you have the rest of his crew in stasis, or the tribble ... which is just a frankly odd and out of place conclusion. The relationship between Spock and Uhura is just uncharacteristic to me, and feels like Hollywood overstepping its bounds and trying to make Star Trek more hip for a younger audience. I don't think it adds to either character. Kirk is both similar and dissimilar to Shatner's portrayal. I don't think this would bother me if not for Zachary Quinto's damned impressive portrayal of Spock. I read that he purportedly based the majority of his performance on actually spending time with Leonard Nimoy, and I believe it. I still argue the best scene in the 2009 film is the scene with the two Spocks near the end. So my problem isn't that Chris Pine is doing a poor job, by any means. He's doing his version of the character, but with the other lead doing his version of the original's version, I simply find it jarring.

The film does have a lot of good moments, although I don't really care for how J.J. Abrams handles a camera. There is a lot of shaky cam overall, even in softer quieter scenes, and I found it very distracting. Also, the lens flares are back in force. Considering the audience reaction to the 2009 film's overuse of the damn things, there's a lingering sense of 'fuck you, got mine,' that I've mentioned about other filmmakers. 

Thankfully the movie has a star-studded cast and Benedict Cumberbatch steals the show. Someone pointed out on another review I read that it really is a testament to Martin Freeman's acting chops that he can so effortlessly play equal to Cumberbatch, who feels like he's walking over the rest of this cast. It's a surreal enough experience that it's almost reason alone to see Into Darkness. But, other than the aforementioned Abrams shaky-cam, the actions scenes are grand-scale epic, they're just difficult to discern what the hell is happening. It's a real shame that I've talked about before. 

If there's one thing I walked away from this with a sense of dread with Abram's upcoming Star Wars film ... something I wasn't excited for in the first place. 

Monday, August 25, 2014

On Doctor Who's Season 8 Premiere "Deep Breath"

Stolen from tardisplus' Deviantart:
The Doctor returns with a new face and a new attitude. What did I think? I was very nicely surprised. I'll kick off by saying, very shortly into the episode, I was checking if Moffat actually was credited as the writer. There was a predominance of characterization over complexity in this episode, which was sorely missed during the Doctor Trilogy, or dare-I-say, the 11th Doctor's entire run. 

Most Idiotic Review

" ... we spent over an hour on a half-baked plot with no proper climax or resolution, and the only main character who had any proper emotional journey was dreary Clara .... After this strangely recessive, unheroic, dull season opener, ... The audience at home were still waiting for their hero too." Neil Midgley (Forbes)

This is harsh and unfair. Honestly, this episode reminded me of many standalone adventures of the Russel T. Davies era. I would also argue that, while not concluded, the Doctor did go on an emotional one, or would anyone contend that he is identical to when he stepped out of the TARDIS at the very start of the episode? It's not the whizbang kind of resolution anymore, and personally, that's just more my style than the flash and panache of Matt Smith's Doctor. That's okay, though. I certainly didn't find it dull. If anything, I found it classic Who. It wasn't great, but it certainly appealed more than the Doctor Trilogy did.

Most Accurate Review

"We have a Doctor who is a manipulator, a Doctor who is mercurial, a Doctor who has secrets, a Doctor who is unpredictable, and a Doctor who is alien ... And just like that, Doctor Who is dangerous once more, and the show will be all the better for it .... Somewhere there’s danger, somewhere there’s injustice, and somewhere else the tea is getting cold. Come on, Doctor, you’ve got work to do." Ewan Spence (Forbes)

I think Forbes is playing both sides of the field on this one, the sneaky bastards. 

This was definitely the main focus of the episode. There was a subplot about dinosaurs and cyborgs and organ harvesting (all great stuff and all greatly underutilized), but the real story was Capaldi's Doctor's first outing. I always try to imagine the writing of the first episode of a new Doctor, because, in certain lines, I can still hear Matt Smith, or any of the other Doctors from years long past. It first occurred to me at the end of Time of the Doctor, immediately following the regeneration, and I could hear Matt Smith echoed in every line. So the episode is fun, if only to try and gauge who Capaldi is compared to Smith. It's actually been a while since a regeneration carried over a companion from one doctor to the next, not since Eccleston regenerated into Tennant, and watching Clara contend with the transformation is a wholly different experience than what Rose had (as it should be)

What I Say

I was really surprised by this episode? It's been a long time since I sat back and simply enjoyed Moffat's writing. It was pleasant and hearkened back to an earlier era of the show. I was initially leery with the opening involving the (criminally misused) dinosaur coughing up the TARDIS. I sat back and thought to myself, "Oh, no. It's one of those ...." but honestly, the remainder of the episode was very toned down.

Plot — Alright, so we have two major stories happening at once. On the surface, we have a mystery involving cyborgs harvesting human organs, a callback to a previous, pre-Smith episode. But the main focus really is Clara, the audience, and Capaldi himself learning who he is. Who is this Doctor. Is he the Doctor? 

Because this is the primary plotline, the majority of the episode is dominated by strict characterization, with the other storylines playing second-fiddle. It really does a lot to help the episode, I thought. Although I thought Clara's character was a bit fudged to make the episode work, her constant questioning of both the Doctor and his age really reflected some of the less refined 'fans' of the show's backlash to Capaldi's casting. I really wouldn't have bothered trying to appease anyone who considered Capaldi, 'too old' for the roll of the Doctor and politely suggest they stick their head in a toilet. 

The cyborg plot is resolved, but the exact nature of the resolution (and the Doctor himself) is left a mystery, for the time being, and hopefully Moffat feels fit to give us the reveal sooner rather than later (as he seems to have a preference for). 

*Spoiler Alert*

For anyone who missed out, there is a very touching scene (that probably should have appeared in Time of the Doctor) where Matt Smith cameos as the 11th Doctor, and calls Clara, just moments before she arrived to see his regeneration of Trenzalore. There is a lot of stress on the dissimilar sameness that is Capaldi's Doctor versus Smith's, and it really tries to give the audience a bit of padding through this regeneration.

I personally had a really hard time during the Eleventh Hour, not just because Matt Smith was so radically different, but the show felt radically different: new TARDIS, new Sonic Screwdriver, new companions. When Moffat took over, while I applaud him for hitting the ground running, left very little of Davies' era alive between Tennant and Smith. This time more care seems to be being taken, an allowance for the new Doctor to grow on the audience. 

It's impossible not to draw some comparisons to the Christmas Invasion, which was Tennant's first bout out, and for a better portion of his debut was spent with him in bed. It too took care allowing the existence of the 10th Doctor to sink in before he whirls off on another adventure. 

Characters — So, we get Yakko, Wakko, and Dot (I was tired of three stooges references) and while I'm not normally a huge fan of these characters, I liked them here. I'd want to see the episode again to confirm, but it strikes me after a single viewing that they actually do things here. Last time we saw them, they had a conference call, where they talked about the Doctor, then they get captured/killed and the Doctor saves them. Then the Doctor is incapacitated and it's Clara who steps up to save him. They really weren't there as anything more than a sounding board and expositional peanut gallery. 

Honestly, I feel like this time around, Yakko, Wakko, and Dot did more than River Song did in the majority of her entire run. Happily refute this claim in the comments below. Or tell me I'm a swell guy. I'll accept either.

This time they actually <gasp> do stuff. They investigate a dinosaur, they contain said dinosaur, contain the Doctor, who's kind of like a dinosaur, investigate (briefly) reports of spontaneous combustion, and then fight cyborgs. It's nice to see other characters other than the Doctor kick ass. That's part of what I loved about RTD's era. One of the best moments is during Journey's End when Sarah Jane, Mickey, Jack, and Jackie threaten Davros with a 'Warpstar' and Martha tunes in with the Osterhagen Key. While they might have been using methods the Doctor found abhorrent, they at least did something.

Clara has been given some new personality traits... which struck me as moderately out of place until I remembered she never really had a strongly developed character to begin with. Like I once said about Christopher Nolan and his characters, they are sometimes saved by actors stronger than the writing, who can transcend cardboard cutouts. Benedict Cumberbatch did this in Star Trek Into Darkness. So now Clara is a frustrated control-freak, a bit of an egomaniac, and shallow enough to be conflicted about the 12th Doctor's older appearance. I guess I can accept that the Doctor's new persona is just the right kind of new to bring out a side of her we haven't seen before, but I'm not wholly convinced. Still, Jenna Coleman is as charming as ever with a wispy air of Mary Poppins about her. 

The Doctor is the Doctor. Enough said, but if you wanted real analysis, I liked the idea that Capaldi's Doctor is more true to the Doctor, in a sense. It's pretty clear that most of the more recent Regenerations were results of some pretty large events in his life. 

John Hurt's War Doctor was literally a warrior who rejected his title, his promise, and the events of the Time War scarred him so much, Eccleston's 9th Doctor quite obviously suffered a combination of PTSD and survivor's guilt over his actions. Then he fell in love with Rose, and when he regenerated, he became Tennant's charming, roguish hero. Tennant, a lover more than a fighter, lost ... everything. They really made the 10th Doctor suffer over and over again, haunted by lost companions, and, unlike the others, an impending foreknowledge of his "song's ending." When he regenerated, he was alone. It makes a strong kind of sense that Matt Smith's Doctor is the man who forgets, who never stops running. Amy to a degree and Clara (although I would argue it was mostly his ability to absolve himself of his actions during the Time War) allowed the 11th Doctor to forgive himself a bit, and let the 'mask slip' so to speak. 

Capaldi's Doctor seems much more hesitant with his friends, but much more biting with his enemies, prone to outbursts of conflagration and reserved thoughtfulness. He's barely restrained razor-wire, but lacks the social confidence of his past few incarnations. He is a darker, more self-reflective, and almost ... sadder Doctor, who seems to question a lot about himself and who he is.

Overall, a fantastic start to a new season and a new Doctor. I might not be overly hopeful, but here's to Moffat smashing this one out of the park. 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Throwback Thursday: On An Adventure in Time and Space

I lied. I couldn't stay away from the TARDIS all the way till Monday. This docu-drama is downright touching, which is the first ... and possibly only word I can use to describe it. I was vaguely aware of the history of William Hartnell's tenure on Doctor Who, and aside from artistic licence, it's quite moving.

Most Idiotic Review

"... if there's a problem with An Adventure In Space And Time it's that it's written with the view that the future of television itself is at stake . This is patently untrue and everything I've read on the origins of the show indicates no one had any inkling of the genie they'd released from the bottle and thought of it as a disposable children's television show that probably wouldn't last . That said the programme begins with a disclaimer - though be it in a pretentious manner - that some artistic licence has been taken by the storytelling." — Theo Robertson (IMDB Reviews)

I wasn't surprised that I had difficulty finding a truly idiotic review for this film. Appealing to a fairly limited and already dedicated audience, my thoughts are that most people who went into this weren't going to be overly critical or ... well trolls. I read some complaints of it being unfocused, and the majority of ire is directed at a single, short cameo, but that aside, it seems this was a resounding smash hit.

Most Accurate Review

"As much as the film celebrates the beginning of the little show that could, it also bittersweetly eulogizes the man who was the definite article. Amid all the winking nods to fan-known futures or characters espousing things said in episodes not yet made, the movie focuses on a man’s realization that he’ll never again be what he once was and the fame he’ll no longer have. It’s very moving, and the special cameo during the filming of the first regeneration only served to bring more of a glisten to the eye. It’s a show we all love, but no one loved it more first than its original star." — Kyle Anderson (Nerdist) 

Slipping between the stories of primarily actor William Hartnell and producer Verity Lambert, we are shown the first beginnings of the show which, at the time this aired, was celebrating its 50th Anniversary. Personally, I could have done without the whole of the Doctor Trilogy and stuck with this and been a happier Whovian. David Bradley captures quite the spirit of Hartnell, although he is arguably a bit more gruff in his portrayal, it is still an undeniably moving performance, and the rest of the cast is fantastically picked ... although, all things considered, I was unsure about the actor cast to play Patrick Troughton, the 2nd Doctor. He seemed to have the energy down, but not quite the age, which is a small complaint, I know. 

What I Say

What can I say? It's always harder to talk about something that really moved you. It either comes across as stilted or gushy. So, on the stilted side of things, I think they did a wonderful job bringing to the screen something so well beloved by so many. On the gushy side, I did well up, more than once, in fact. David Bradley delivers such a candid performance that I, at least, shed a tear and Mark Gaitiss' writing is an obvious love letter to the history of the series and my understanding is he's been trying to get this made since 2003.

I won't go into the plot and character or spectacle here. I feel like this is a less-is-more topic, and that most fans who're walking into see this, will already have a vague notion of the history of the show, and those with no foreknowledge of these events, I'll be damned if I could explain it to you. Doctor Who truly is a 'see it to believe it' situation.

Doctor Who truly is an example of Black Swan theory. Never, ever could it have been predicted. 

You know, the more I think about it, Mark Gatiss should just take over from Steven Moffat. Yes, that's obviously what must be done. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Doctor Trilogy Week: The Time of the Doctor

Before we get started, here is another shameless plug for MOVIE MUTTS, my upcoming Webseries! Watch the promo!

So here it is, the climactic entry into the Doctor Trilogy. I'll start off by saying I thought this was seriously the weakest of the three, stories, and if you've turned in for my reviews of The Name of the Doctor and The Day of the Doctor, you know that's saying a lot. 

Pictured: the best way for the Eleventh Doctor to end his
Most Idiotic Review

"... I can’t think of a better way for the Eleventh Doctor to end his tenure .... There were lots of loose ends for writer Steven Moffat to tie up, but somehow he did it." — Kyle Anderson (Nerdist)

I can think of many better ways for the 11th Doctor to end his tenure and I don't think Moffat tied up his loose ends effectively at all. I thought the episode was bloated and the exposition was rushed.

Most Accurate Review

"Every time the Gordian plot-knot gets sonic-screwdrivered into submission for the 60-minute limit, the writers just tap the remnants into Later. What's the deal with the creepy brain-wiping creatures known as The Silence? Later. The name of the Doctor? Later, and then we get The Time of the Doctor, where every second line seems to offer a footnote to some arcane Wikipedia entry on Whovian lore." — Tim Martin (The Telegraph)

In Monday's review, I quoted George R.R. Martin. If you missed it, here it is again. “It's always the question, when do you reveal something, how long do you draw it out? The books are full of little puzzles and enigmas and reversals, and how do you place those? You don't want to give it away too soon, but if you stretch it out too long everybody's going to guess it anyway, so at what point is that? I kind of like having the puzzles and you need to keep at least some of the puzzles till the end, but then again you can't keep them all till the end otherwise or you end with this final chapter that's just one guy endlessly talking about, 'Well there's this and then there's this and the explanation for this is this,' and it's a very boring and not very good chapter."

Now look at this exchange of dialogue 

TASHA: Why did you ever come to Trenzalore?
DOCTOR: Well, I did come to Trenzalore, and nothing can change that now. Didn't stop you trying though, did it?
TASHA: Not me. The Kovarian Chapter broke away. They traveled back along your timeline and tried to prevent you ever reaching Trenzalore.
DOCTOR: So that's who blew up my TARDIS. I thought I'd left the bath running.
TASHA: They blew up your time capsule, created the very cracks in the universe through which the Time Lords are now calling.
DOCTOR: The destiny trap. You can't change history if you're part of it.
TASHA: They engineered a psychopath to kill you.
DOCTOR: Totally married her. I'd never have made it here alive without River Song.
We literally just got four years of reveals in an eight line exchange. That is not good storytelling. 

"The actual plot of The Time of The Doctor itself doesn't really quite hold up to the rest of the storytelling-sewing going on in the background. The carnival of Monsters never feels quite justified, outside of a 'wouldn't it be cool *if*' moment, and the laboured, repeated use of voice over montages to pass time reflects the relatively cramped nature of the script and its ideas battling against the time frame - especially when it comes to the manner of The Doctor's renewed regenerative cycle (which I must admit, as a gift from Gallifrey for having saved him, was rather touching, ending this 'trilogy' of Name, Day and Time as a singular arc) delivered in a bit of a deus ex machina moment. These issues persist throughout, and bring the episode very close to falling flat on its face at points." — Ursus-Veritas (io9)

As I keep saying, Moffat is good at two things, concepts & dialogue. The in-between stuff (structure, characterization, and theme) really seem to fail him. He always seems hung up on 'what looks cool' or my, "Moffat's being subtle again," moments. The episode survives on the basis of the skill of its actors and the altogether atmosphere created by its disparate elements ... although a wooden Cyberman still strikes me as an incredibly stupid leap of logic. 

What I Say

Can we get a new head-writer please? 

Plot — The episode actually really had me hooked with good ol' classic Who vibes for the first 25 minutes. We had small cameos of the Silence, the Weeping Angels, a great big mystery, and some clever humor. Then we got to the planet. We got to the Truth Field in the town called Christmas ... and then the f***ing montages began, complete with whimsical fairy-tale voice-overs. I don't inherently dislike voice-overs like certain prominent names (George R.R. Martin is one), when they're there to add to the story, like spices that add flavoring. However, when major key plotpoints are told via voice-over and montage, that's just unforgivably lazy writing that serves no purpose. If you seriously think a montage/voice-over is the only way to go about telling your story effectively, you're either not trying, or not very talented. There are always better, more effective storytelling methods at your disposal if you just use them. 

So the Doctor finds himself in a standoff between the Time Lords (resurrected narratively by the events of The Day of the Doctor) and all the baddies in the Who universe. It's a nice concept to see the 11th Doctor tied down, but then the oddness starts ... the old-age makeup. This serves little to no purpose in the grand scheme of things. There's no reason to it, other than to suggest that he's been tied down for an extra long time. The way they justify this is by having Clara tricked into leaving twice. The first time, I didn't mind; the second time, I started getting insulted on behalf of Clara, especially considering how she throws it all away once she's reunited with the Doctor. Sure he ditched her, but how can she stay mad at those puppy dog eyes?

I'm also really interested in why the Town of Christmas doesn't technologically progress in three-hundred plus years. It strikes me as damned odd. I know it's going for the whimsical fairy tale, but if it bothered me in The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant (my favorite series of all time) why can't it bother me here? 

So through one of the Cracks in space/time that've been haunting the 11th Doctor since his first outing, the Time Lords give him a new regeneration (since he didn't have anymore), and old-age makeup Matt Smith returns to form (albeit with a wig) and then turns into Capaldi. They wanted him to be old, except for when they didn't. Astounding writing chops there guys. 

Characters — Handles should obviously be the new star of the show. I don't care if he malfunctioned. He's the best companion the Doctor's had in years. 

Matt Smith, as always, does a great job, turning in every possible direction. He really does shine in the episode, which, if that's the point, is, I must admit a resounding success. But I'm too much of a stickler to allow for that. I didn't like the repeated mistreatment of his companions. When Eccleston sent Rose away, it was devastating, for both of them, and for the audience. With Smith ... eh. Less so, especially the second time. 

Clara, as a character, finally unfettered from the Impossible Girl story-arc really begins to shine. I say begins, because after the second time the Doctor tricks her away, she starts to seem overly gullible. She's also been downgraded to crying. A lot. I didn't realize until this week, watching the Doctor Trilogy in succession how many times she cries. It's ... distracting.

Tasha is an interesting addition, torn between flirting incessantly with the Doctor and spouting some of the clunkiest expository dialogue. I wish she'd been introduced earlier and behaved more as a character than a plot point. 

I also want to take a moment to point out Clara's parents ... who I have no investment in seeing again. I feel like Moffat's falling back on his sitcom days with this lot. There's an overabundance of mean-spirited ... humor from the mother and saccharine speeches from the Gran I really couldn't wait for them to get off screen (Gran and Dad don't even get real names in the script). 

Spectacle — At one point the Doctor says, "We saw this planet in the future, remember? All those graves, one of them mine."

All those graves ... and all those mountains
Wait, where the hell did those come from? 
The only thing I could think was, "This isn't what I was expecting." I understand it's a television show and I don't expect something on the Scale of Marvel's series of films or Lord of the Rings, but ... considering the hype that's built up around this event, the Fall of the Eleventh? This was a serious letdown. A single village that never changed in over three hundred years. It's every conservative politician's wet-dream. 

Even if I never liked Amy's character, I would never deny
Karen Gillian's talent as an actress, or her chemistry with
Matt Smith
Matt Smith's regeneration though, almost made up for the fifty minutes prior. It's tender, sweet, and a lovingly crafted specifically to say goodbye to a brilliant actor. When Moffat lets his characters just talk for an entire scene, he can still work magic. 

So. There it is. The Doctor Trilogy. I've been waiting a year to review these three episodes, and there. It's done! It's finished! I can take a break! Until next week when the next episode airs! Looks like I'll be back here in the TARDIS next Monday (and we're still building toward a special new addition. MOVIE MUTTS PROMO).

Here's to new kidneys and new adventures.