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Review: Doctor Who Series 7.5 Episode 5: “Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS” (Spoilers)

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Besides the 50th anniversary special feature-length film/episode 3-D thing, “Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS” immediately caught my attention when scanning episode titles before Series 7.5 premiered. Fans have been teased with the endlessness of the TARDIS since the beginning of Who, and though several rooms have been revealed in the past, “Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS” was an episode that promised to focus exclusively on the interior of the ship that has been a pillar of the show since 1963. Every fan of Doctor Who has their own preconceptions of what rooms the TARDIS holds – myself included – so naturally there was bound to be some disappointment involved. How could a television episode live up to that title? But before we get there, let’s start at the beginning.

doctor-who-series-7-hide-promo-pics-34The Doctor begins the episode by commenting on the hostility between Clara and the TARDIS. This has been a recurring theme throughout the second half of Series 7, and one that will no doubt be connected to the fact that Clara keeps popping up in different times as different versions of herself. The TARDIS seems to react aggressively towards anything with an unnatural timeline, and Ms. Oswald would appear to fit the bill. In previous series, the Doctor’s companion and the TARDIS have had little to no interaction. The fact that this is suddenly reversed is a compelling development. The Doctor is insistent that the two get along, and shuts the TARDIS down to “Basic Mode” so that Clara can fly it.

What piqued my curiosity about this scene was that Clara seemed able to pilot the TARDIS relatively well in the previous episode, “Hide.” No, it was not River Song-level flying, but it was impressive nonetheless. So the fact that she suddenly needs training wheels is somewhat confusing. But I digress.

Screen Shot 2013-05-04 at 6.12.59 PMThe crew of a passing scavenger spaceship notice the TARDIS on their radar and reel it in with a magnetic tractor beam, hoping for loot. This seems to cause the TARDIS to go haywire. Amidst the mechanical havoc around her, Clara notices an egg-shaped metal object rolling across the floor and bends to pick it up – then drops it almost immediately as if burned. The console room shakes and then goes dark.

“Please tell me there’s a button you can press to fix this!”

“Oh, yes, a big friendly button!”

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Two Trailers for Doctor Who Series 7.5 Episode 3: The Cold War

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Doctor_Who__Cold_War___Ice_Warrior_preview_pictures_and_trailer

A classic villain is brought back in the upcoming episode of Doctor Who: the Ice Warriors! (Hence the title “Cold War.”) More specifically, Grand Marshall Skaldak. (This particular Warrior is not from Classic Who, but the concept of “Grand Marshall” is.) Anyway, let’s jump right into the trailers!

This first one is the “next time” trailer shown after “The Rings of Akhaten.”

There’s a great deal of information encapsulated in these 36 seconds:
the Doctor and Clara are aboard a sinking submarine armed with no less than 12 nuclear warheads and an angry Ice Warrior who evidently is intent on detonating them all. The last cut is of a scaly hand reaching towards a very smug-looking red button, whose purpose is presumably to trigger the missiles. We also see a rather bleak shot of Clara’s head lolling, eyes closed, looking very cold and wet and not very alive. Random aside: the premise reminds me very much of the Angel episode “Why We Fight.”

The next trailer on the list is the TV spot.

New information in this one: the Doctor was aiming for Las Vegas when he lands in the sinking submarine. Also, he seems to know who Skaldak is, proclaiming “this one is [dangerous]. He’s got nothing left to lose.” This could reflect a level of personal involvement with Skaldak’s plight. Or maybe Skaldak has just gone insane, and thus has no qualms with nuking Earth.

The description of this video reads: “On a Russian submarine in 1983, a frozen alien warrior is waking up, just as the TARDIS materialises.” So, Skaldak was dormant for who-knows-how-long before waking up, possibly as a result of the TARDIS’ rather hasty landing.

All in all, this episode looks like it has the potential to be pretty great. Neither of the trailers include much dialogue, but hopefully the writers have bounced back from the unimaginative script of “The Rings of Akhaten.” If you’re interested in more Doctor Who-related posts, check out my review of Series 7.5 Episode 1 (“The Bells of Saint John”) here, my review of Episode 2 (“The Rings of Akhaten”) here, and an early dissection of the trailers for Series 7.5 here.

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Review: Doctor Who Series 7.5 Episode 2: The Rings of Akhaten (Spoilers)

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First of all, I’d just like to make the point that this episode has been getting way more negative reviews than it deserves. “The Rings of Akhaten” is a rollicking space-y adventure complete with Star Wars-ian alien fauna and some seriously awesome visual effects from the masters fromp017c9sc The Mill. The story structure is not revolutionary, but neither is it absurdly nonsensical like several of its predecessors. (“Fear Her,” anyone?) I believe the word here is ‘dependable’ – Moffat took a framework that has succeeded in the past and re-worked it. That said, there are several plot holes and gaps of logic – flying a space motorcycle through the void without a space suit, for one. Not to mention several occurrences of underwhelming dialogue. Before we get there, however, let’s backtrack a bit…

SUMMARY

The episode begins with the Doctor observing the meeting of Clara’s parents – a clichéd but ultimately sweet rendition of the “dramatic rescue of the damsel in distress” trope…except in this situation, Clara’s father is the damsel. Smacked in the face with a maple leaf, he decides it’s a great idea to meander into oncoming traffic flailing his arms about. His future wife pushes him out of the way in the nick of time…and true love ensues.

rings-akhaten-dave-ellie-4Cue montage of Clara growing up (come on, we haven’t had one of those in ages). We see her mother giving her the “101 Places” book we saw in “The Bells of Saint John” (and now we know the origin of the leaf that constitutes the first page). Her mother then inexplicably dies (hopefully we’ll learn more about that later, as it is a major character shaper).

Cut to present-day TARDIS, and the Doctor is asking Clara what she would like to see. There is ssssssssssaaaaaaaaaaaa_zpsc13a1018some fierce buildup as she ponders this question, and though her answer – “something awesome” – seems somewhat anticlimactic, the Doctor responds with his usual enthusiasm and begins dancing around the TARDIS console while pressing buttons and pulling levers in the standard takeoff sequence. (Interestingly enough, the order in which he does it all is actually the same episode to episode. And yes, I’ve double-checked this.)

doctor-who-rings-of-akhaten-overnights-mainThe Doctor takes Clara to the Rings of Akhaten – seven planetoids orbiting a gas giant. Their visit coincides with the Festival of Offerings, which the Doctor passes off as the alien version of Pancake Tuesday. In reality, the Festival “celebrates” the aligning of the planetoids with a live performance by the Queen of Years, the young Merry GejelhMeet_the_brand_new_Doctor_Who_aliens_from_The_Rings_of_Akhaten (played wonderfully by Emilia Jones). The Old God – christened “Grandfather” – resides in a golden pyramid on an asteroid, and the song is meant to placate him, acting as a lullaby. We see Clara in her “governess” role again as she comforts Merry and assures her that, despite her fears, she will not fail her song.

Merry is stolen away by Grandfather via tractor beam while she is singing and is taken to the pyramid. The Doctor and Clara arrive just in time (riding 0aforementioned nifty space motorcycle, paid for with Clara’s mother’s ring because of its sentimental value) to convince her not toThe Rings of Akhaten sacrifice her soul. Then, just as Grandfather is about to

escape his glass cage… Continue reading

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Review: Doctor Who Series 7.5 Episode 1: The Bells of Saint John (Spoilers)

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SPOILERS AHEAD. SPOILERS, I SAY! YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

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Clara and the Doctor in “The Snowmen.”

Doctor Who Series 7 returned to televisions worldwide on March 30th with the invigoratingly flashy midseries premiere “The Bells of Saint John.” With all the hype leading up to it, however, some disappointment was inevitable. This episode was tasked with introducing Clara Oswald yet again, this time as the Doctor’s 21st century to-be companion. (For those who are unfamiliar with the mythos surrounding Clara, the Doctor has met different versions of her across different times.) “The Bells of Saint John” also promised a riveting adventure and strong story to boot.

spoon1The central plot itself foundered somewhat when it was asked to support the forgettable monsters known as the “Spoonheads” as well as fail to explain why “The Great Intelligence” (played by Richard E. Grant)photo wanted people’s souls all of a sudden when snowmen seemed to entertain it just fine only a few hundred years prior. Viewers never learn how the soul-snatching actually works – there isn’t even a pseudo-science explanation delivered hastily by the Doctor. Plus, the plot and story structure both seem like reiterations of “The Idiot’s Lantern,” and why on earth did Miss Kizlet want Clara to have computer skills if her sudden awesome hacking prowess ended up being the mysterious corporation’s downfall? (By the way, Celia Imrie was wonderful as Miss Kizlet. When UNIT is cleaning up the scene after all of the Spoonhead controllers have been wiped, and she looks up and asks for her parents…I wanted to cry and laugh at the same time.) Continue reading

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Doctor Who Series 7.5 – An Abundance of Trailers

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BBC’s Doctor Who will be returning on March 30th. All fans of the show have had this date marked on their calendars for months now, but BBC has continued to release media teasing the upcoming season (half-season, really). The trailer for Series 7.5 has been out for a while now. In case you haven’t seen it, here it is:

This one is very focused on Clara Oswald. She is Doctor’s new companion, introduced in “Asylum of the Daleks” and again in the Christmas special “The Snowmen.” In both she is the same woman…but from two different times.

On March 16th, another trailer for the season was released via BBC’s YouTube channel, titled “New Series 7 Launch Trailer 2013.”

This one seems to be more “scary finale”-themed…because if the Doctor is afraid, then you should be too. Plus it’s got that bass-y sound from Inception that has taken the place of music in trailers these days… Continue reading

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