The 11th Doctor – Doctor Who

This is semi-old news, but time, etc., point being I finally got around to posting it.  Some of you may not have known, but the 11th Doctor has been picked for the newly rebooted Doctor Who series.  David Tennant, the 10th Doctor, will film a few specials this year, but then he’s out and season five will start afresh.  So who’s our next Doctor?

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Matt Smith!  Wait… who?  Yeah, exactly.  He’s 26, so the very much so youngest Doctor we’ve had yet, but supposedly new head writer Steven Moffat wanted:

…someone very British, odd-looking/eccentric and if young had an “old soul” carrying the weight of his past 10 lives or if old a “young soul” with energy.

So there you have it. We won’t see Matt Smith until 2010 (or I suppose a Christmas Special 2009). My initial reaction was “they’ll NEVER replace David!!!!” and that may still end up being true, but I reminded myself of the first transition from Eccleston to Tennant. I was wary of Tennant and it’s easy to say from this end he’s the best Doctor ever, but I didn’t know that starting with him. So, I’m saying I’m willing to give Mr. Smith a chance.

Look for specials from our current beloved Doctor in April (possibly the 11th according to rumors).

David Don’t Go! Doctor Who Season 4

After being through three season with David Tennant, the thought of him being replaced makes me want to boycott the new doctor, but I remind myself what I would have missed out on had I done the same with the transition between Christopher Eccleston and David Tennant–and that’s a lot.

The Christmas special has just broadcast (it’s not as good as Voyage of the Damned, but still good), and Tennant is to appear in 3 specials in 2009 before signing off.  Season 5 will make its appearance in 2010.

So, in a show, extremely notorious as of lately for changing up its cast just when you’re getting to like them, we have the Doctor and a return to an old cast member Donna Noble (Catherine Tate).  (And I swear the theme song got an upgrade as well–though I prefer the just previous version).

doctor-and-donna-series-4-promoDonna Noble, for those faithfully following Doctor Who, appeared in the episode The Runaway Bride, and helped save the world and the Doctor from the Empress of the Racnoss.  Since then, she hasn’t been able to get the Doctor out of her mind.  I wondered how this change of pace would work, since the last two assistants have been young things enamorate of the Doctor, and it came as a breath of fresh air.  Not only is Catherine Tate’s comedic talent glorious for the series, but the “buddies” relationship pulls new performances out of the two of them and just adds to the excellence the series keeps bringing us.  This transition wasn’t as hard for me as was Rose to Martha, at least not at the beginning of the series.

FAVORITE EPISODES:

Seriously, with Doctor Who its like picking favorite children.  I could list every one of them, and any I haven’t mentioned are still great, these were just particularly fantastic.

07Partners in Crime The Doctor and Donna finally meet up again, and in probably one of the cleverest ways I’ve ever seen on television.  Their whole dialogue through windows was classic, and it was great to see a friend of the Doctor’s we were familiar with return.  I really just enjoyed a sort of “coming home” feeling with this episode.

tennantlibrarySilence in the Library/Forest of the Dead Creepy and cool, this episode takes the Doctor and Donna to a library planet, but only the shadows are present.  The switch between alternate realities while trying to guess what exactly was going on was exhilarating and terrifying at the same time.  The faces on the statues were a fantastic sci-fi touch and in the end you’re left looking at your own shadow suspiciously.  It’s an episode that proves the unknown is more frightening that the blood and guts scary movies of our day and age.

n04-10-02Midnight Leave it to Russell T. Davies (head writer) to take something annoying and turn it into ultra creepy.  Most of the episode is sans-Donna, which is a shame, but it works.  The Doctor heads on a sort of bus tour of the planet Midnight, when the “bus” has troubles and breaks down.  They hear a creature outside, but it eventually makes its way in and possesses one of the passengers.  The creature copies everything the others, including the Doctor, are saying and at first we, like the Doctor, think its just trying to learn, but then it takes the terrifying twist Davies loves to give us.  Good stuff and great performances!

turn_left_doctor_whoTurn Left Ever seen the movie Sliding Doors?  Basically the concept is what would have happened if you had made a different choice or one event had changed slightly?  How much impact would it really have had on the world?  This is the question asked when Donna visits a mysterious woman who has her turn a different direction, and in the end has tremendous consequences on the Doctor Who universe.  This episode makes you think they’ve had the whole series carefully planned out for how well they integrate all the little changes.

stolen_earth_pic6The Stolen Earth/Journey’s End It always seems to come back to the Daleks, maybe because they’re more threatening in the 2005+ series as opposed to the old series.  (Yeah, um, spoiler alert).  We get to see pretty much the whole new series cast return, Rose included, as they all unite to defeat the Daleks, with surprising aid coming from “I’m just a temp” Donna Noble.  There are a couple really harsh Russell T. Davies moments, one between Rose and the Doctor, and seeing Donna Noble off (which makes you wonder if you shouldn’t be more polite to those people you don’t know).

In reality, this reboot of the series is one of the best things on television now, and far cleverer than 90% of the other shows out there.  Perhaps sci-fi lends to that, especially in this day and age.  I used to be among the crowd that hesitated watching sci-fi shows, mostly for getting lost in the technical babble (Star Trek occasionally leaned that way) and for the social stigma, but once I got over it and dived in I’ve never once been sorry.  This is my big push to those still hesitating to join in, and Doctor Who would be a fine way to start.  I’m more than eager to see these specials, and I’ll definitely give the new Doctor a chance.

Doctor Who Season 3: Same Doctor, new cast

dr_who_tennant_narrowweb__300x4300I’m excited for season 4 to finally be released on DVD, and in honor of its release, a long overdue review of season three is here.  First of all SPOILER ALERT.  I’d suggest you start with season one to make your decision of yay or nay on the Doctor.  Anyways, you’ve been warned.

All right, could there be anything more heart-wrenching than the forced separation for good of the Doctor and Rose?  Seriously, the end of season two was a little hard for watching, and I was super sad to see Billie Piper go.  It doesn’t seem like this show can hold onto its cast, but I still love it.  Interestingly enough, while most shows will soon forget a cast member they say goodbye to, I really appreciate the Doctor actually dealing with the loss of Rose on the show.  Even Captain Jack gets in on the sorrow.  So in that aspect, an appreciated move for the season.

martha-jonesWho is the new assistant following the Doctor around this time?  Introducing Martha Jones (Freema Agyeman), who was introduced to the Doctor in a great time travel way.  (Seriously, this show has the time travel thing down without overdoing it.  Maybe Heroes creators should take notes).  I, like Martha, was also puzzled by the way the Doctor approached Martha in the beginning of the first episode, but as usual it becomes clear.  Martha is intelligent, fun, and witty, and a doctor herself–at least almost, medically speaking.

This season holds some of the best episodes of the rebooted series.  Once again, it’s hard to play favorites with these, but here we go:

THE SHAKESPEARE CODE
Some gentle cracks at Shakespeare, but the best part for me was the Harry Potter crack at the very end of the episode.  It makes the whole episode and it’s worth watching just for that.

s3gridlockGRIDLOCK
The Doctor and Martha go to the underbelly of New New York City, but everything seems to have gone wrong.  It was an interesting, whether intended or not, examination of when to question authority or the situation.  The citizens have been driving around in circles and police aren’t available, but they’re content to keep on driving.  I suppose a reason I love Doctor Who is the philosophical questions it poses and most of the time makes you come up with your own conclusions.

HUMAN NATURE & THE FAMILY OF BLOOD
The Doctor turns human for awhile to hide from “The Family” and Martha, feeling mostly slighted by the Doctor most of the time anyways, feels ultimately slighted when he falls in love with a human.  Plus I just really liked the ending narration from the family after the Doctor comes and takes care of the problem.  Also a great episode to set us up for the big upcoming villain.

angelsBLINK
Wibbley-wobbley, timey wimey.  One of Steven Moffat’s best in my opinon, Blink does well as an episode without but about the Doctor–for the most part.  Most of the time when shows do an episode kind of discluing their main character, they suck, and we wonder why they just didn’t take a week off.  This is not even close to that case.  The whole timey wimey-ness of time travel and the space time continuum story telling is at its best with killer stone angel statues and cleverness from the Doctor.

UTOPIA et al.
The Master proved a great villain in the last three eps of the season and the Doctor the ultimate hero, and a bit more of a Christ-type in this episode.  (Sorry religious haters).  Able to forgive and continue to love, the last of the timelords is truly great and proven so in these episodes.  I also like the presented philosophy that an idea can be a more powerful thing than all the armies on the earth.  Good stuff, but also sad.  Like I said, this show has trouble holding onto its cast.  Luckily in exchange for one cast member we gain a familiar face and thus my excitement for season four.

Yeah, I probably could find season four on the internet somewhere, but I want quality viewing when it comes to the Doctor, so next week is soon enough for me.

In other super sad news, for those that didn’t know, it’s official that David Tennant will be stepping down as the Doctor, though he’ll be making a few specials in 2009.

I really don’t know if I can get myself attached to yet another new Doctor, but when the new Doctor hits DVD I’ll give the first few eps a look and let you all know if it’s worthwhile or not.  Either way, we got 3 1/2-ish good seasons out of Tennant, and as far as I’m concerned, my favorite Doctor of them all.

Netflix Instaview: What to Watch (Instant 5)

Sometimes when the candy store has a lot of candy, some of which you don’t care for, but a lot you do, it’s hard to decide what to grab while you’re there. I’ve found the same problem with the Netflix Instaview store. Recommendations are only slightly helpful, but hardly where I’d like them to be. It’s like the clerk knows where the names are stored, but has no idea what kind of taste goes with the name.

So, rather than continue on with cryptic analogies, I thought I would bring you five recommendations, hopefully weekly (depending on Netflix’s continued ability to acquire good/adequate films). I’ll call them the Instant5. Since I have reviewed some series that are available on the Instaview, we’ll start there.

THIS WEEK’S Instant5

1. SeaQuest DSV sn1-3

Basically the aquatic version of Star Trek TNG, a fun TV show from the ’90s, and since you’re paying for this Instaview service whether you watch it or not, I’d say a fine way to spend your viewing hours. I was really only interested up to season two, since we changed directions and command, but they are all available instantly.

2. Doctor Who 2005: Series One

Unless you’ve got a super media friendly local library or a buddy with it, count on spending $70+ to see this in any better quality than a chinese streaming rip. If you’re a fan of sci-fi, this series is a must. Unfortunately the other seasons are not available per Instaview yet, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed. Eccleston does a fabulous job playing the tenth doctor, and I’m a fan of time travel, so it works.

3. Sliders sn1-5

OK, so I’ve come into more sci-fi shows, but this one was fantastic. The idea is that a genius kid figures out how to “slide” to different dimensions, and shows his friend and film professor. The only problem? They can’t find their way back to their own dimension. It’s kind of like Doctor Who in its weekly encounter, but basically a show I loved as a kid, and all four season are for the most part available (a couple episodes here and there haven’t been converted).

4. Strange Brew

As far as I’m concerned a movie-lovers cult classic. The McKenzie brothers take on an evil brewer on a sort of mishap in this strange version of Hamlet (No, seriously. Compare events and characters to the play). Not to worry, all the iambic pantameter is out. This is one of those quotable movies, like Napoleon Dynamite or Dumb and Dumber (though I would rate this movie above D&D). If you love Rick Moranis or basically silly humor, you’ll love this movie.

5. Knight Rider sn1-4

The new series on TV? ‘Fraid not. The old one with your buddy and mine David Hasslehoff. I was a bit weary of this one, not being a huge fan of Hasslehoff, but I put my skepticism aside for a minute and gave it a chance. It’s got the ’80s campiness of most shows from that day and age, but it works for the show, and I still want a KITT. And anyways, it’s practically free. 😉

So that’s it for this week. That doesn’t mean that’s it for what Netflix has by any means. I plan to let you know about other worthwhile watching so you’re not stuck watching whatever is on the front page (which is usually the crumbs of the bread).

If you have a series/movie to suggest, let me know and I’ll take a look (if I haven’t seen it) and include it in the next Instant5 installment. For now, enjoy!

Doctor Who: Season 2 Different Doctor: Dashing or Dull?

Christopher Eccleston made me fall in love with the show all over again and just as I was getting particularly attached to said Doctor, he goes and regenerates (a common occurance for those new to Doctor Who).  As this is a review for season two, I would suggest reading over my review for season one and watching season one if you want to avoid any spoilers for season one.  But for the rest of us, back to the Doctor.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I do believe this is the youngest incarnation of the Doctor we’ve seen yet.  So, the real question on everyone’s mind is: can David Tennant really replace Eccleston as the tenth doctor?

Yes, yes he can.  And did.

For those just starting on season two, you might notice the Doctor for most of the first episode is hardly more exciting than a box of rocks.  Don’t let this episode (The Christmas Invasion) put you off.  The Doctor will deliver.

THE NEW DOCTOR: David Tennant biggest claim to fame prior to Doctor Who #10 was Barty Crouch, Jr. in Harry Potter 4 (I didn’t even put two and two together and had to compare pictures).  As this incarnation he’s more the sheik geek.  Glasses and a suit a bit reminiscent of Sherlock Holmes + charming personality = great Doctor Who.  It’s definitely a switch from Eccleston, but I felt like Tennant was a lot more playful and jovial and just plain fun.  (Girls, you may find yourself crushing on this Doc.)  What else can I say, I just really enjoy Tennant’s performance.  He can go from super goofy, to sort of romantic, to completely serious and ready to fight in moments, very much natural and very much true to his character.  Let’s hope we keep this Doctor for many seasons to come.

ROSE AND THE DOCTOR: I think Billie and David had a lot of fun together, but I don’t know that they ever really got to the chemistry Billie and Christopher had.  It doesn’t ruin the season by any means, but it always seemed like something was just… dunno different.  One of their best moments together, I believe, comes from New Earth when they both have to impersonate a performance when they’re possessed with Lady Cassandra’s “essence.”  We see a completely different Rose and more fun from David.

FAVORITE EPISODES:

School Reunion
We get to see Sarah-Jane Smith from the old series and the girls talk about being with the Doctor.  Plus it’s some good ol’ Mickey times with Mickey.

The Girl in the Fireplace
I love the whole time paradox and time travel stuff, which we can always find a plenty in Doctor Who.  This episode does it right and adds a kind of M. Night twist to the end.

Rise of the Cybermen
There’s just something great about sci-fi that lends to exploring new ideas other genres can’t.  I don’t know what it is about a lot of thinking that believes our emotions make us weaker somehow (perhaps Vulcanism?).  Doctor Who does great showing us it’s the passion of life that makes it worth living, and I think the Cybermen episodes in particular bring the point home.

Love & Monsters
A great fanboy/girl episode, like a Kung Fu Panda take on kung fu, this episode shows interested Doctor fans in the Doctor world, and their quirkiness.  Just a super wacky but fun episode. 🙂

Fear Her
Did anyone ever see the movie Paperhouse?  This episode totally brought that back to mind and a very interesting concept of using the drawings of a little girl to change reality.  Plus we get a chance to see Rose saving the Doctor again (instead of the Doctor saving his assistant as usual).

Army of Ghosts/Doomsday
Spoiler alert, click away if you need to.  A great finish for Billie and very emotionally high and Tennant does such a good job of being pained losing Rose both here and through out the third season.  I really wish Billie hadn’t left the show.  Martha Jones was ok, but I suppose all good things must come to an end.  (Especially since Tennant is thinking of leaving the show after season 5.)

Once again I feel like listing the entire season as favorite episodes.  Granted, there are only 13 episodes generally per season, but this show is phenomenal.

By the end of season 2 I was sold on David Tennant, but if you’re still not feeling it yourself, keep on going, season 3 will make it solid.  He’s a fantastic Doctor, and I will sorely miss him when he’s gone.  I’m not even certain I’ll continue with the show after that, but I suppose new doctor new day is the tradition.

I realized Doctor Who is essentially Peter Pan and his assistants Wendy.  Peter will always be Peter, but eventually Wendy has to grow up and although this Peter makes a lot of changes too, it’s just hard to come to terms with it sometimes.  I think what’s made it a little more difficult is having the Wendy’s, so to speak, change so often.  Still, it’s kept the show fresh and interesting and filled with different perspectives on the Doctor.

But tell me after watching the show you’re not secretly wishing the Doctor would show up in your neighborhood and you could go off on some adventures.  Ah, time travel.  I suppose it’s good we haven’t discovered it to mess things up, but it does make for good entertainment.

Look forward to a season 3 review, and for fans of the show, look forward to season 4 on DVD come November.  I thinking just in time for the Christmas Special of season 5. 🙂

It’s the Doctor! Doctor Who: Series 1

I used to love watching Doctor Who as a kid with one of my friends who recorded it (since it usually broadcast later than 10 yr olds could stay up). Usually when I think of Doctor Who I picture Tom Baker, the fourth incarnation of the Doctor.

For those who are hearing of Doctor Who for the first time or know little about him, the Doctor is an alien from another world who travels through both space and time different civilizations and different time periods to witness history (and usually get his assistants out of trouble).

So why are there currently 10 incarnations of the Doctor? Well, whenever he gets into mortal trouble (or they decide they want a new actor), he simply regenerates into a “new” Doctor. So it’s the same Doctor, just 10 different faces.

Why do I bring this up? Have I been rummaging through old Doctor Who vids or something? Well, actually, I attended Comic-Con this summer and ended up going to the Doctor Who panel (my friend wanted to go to Torchwood which was just afterward). They showed clips of this reboot of the series and I was intrigued to see more. Enter Doctor Who: Series 1. (Yeah, I guess the Brits call it “series” vs. “season.”)

To be honest, my interest was piqued with clips featuring David Tennant (whom I didn’t realize is Barty Crouch, Jr. in HP4), the 10th and current Doctor. So, I was a little put out to discover Christopher Eccleston would be accompanying me at the 9th Doctor. I was tempted to just skip the first season and head straight to second, but they only had season 1 on Netflix Instaview, so sighing a little I ventured in.

If you start it this way you’ll wonder how David Tennant could possibly win you over. Eccleston was a fantastic doctor.

CHARACTERS:

The Doctor(s):
OK, so it’s Eccleston for 99.99% of the first season and Tennant for about 3 seconds. I’ll go more into Tennant after I finish season 2. Eccleston is jovial, mostly unserious, but always there when he’s needed. The chemistry between he and his current assistant is fun and as much as I wondered about it getting creepy–it isn’t. It works for them. (And I really still do miss him as Claude in Heroes. Hopefully he’ll make a comeback soon.) His personality easily wins you over, and like I said, you’ll be wondering how Tennant will ever replace him. (Not to worry, Tennant fans, season 2 will prove him the Doctor).

Rose (Billie Piper):
The Doctor’s assistant, basically. I think she was supposed to be 19. A lower class Brit with attitude joins up with the Doctor after saving his life (and then her brawn basically diminishes after that). She’s not the most phenomenal actress you’ll ever meet, but she makes Rose lovable and fun. She may be the damsel in distress a bit more often than I’d like, but she’s still tough and sticks to her guns, which is probably why she and the Doctor make a good team.

Mickey and Mum:
I don’t know what it is about Mickey, but I love it when he’s around, even if he hates it when the Doctor is there. Mickey is Rose’s “kinda” boyfriend and always feels free to remind the Doctor how much danger he does put Rose through. And then of course Rose’s Mom. She’s forgetful, but for the most part accepting and understanding. She just makes the series fun (especially in season 2)

Villains, etc.:
The Daleks are back! Well… sort of. The thing I love about the new series is it pokes fun at the old series, but in a loving way. So instead of having useless plunger parts, among other things, the Daleks are actually threatening this time around. I loved the plastic men (first episode), and found them to be slightly creepy, imagining if I was in a department store and all of a sudden the dummies started moving and attacking. Creepy. I don’t know, they do a lot of super sci-fi stuff, but it makes it fun and entertaining and it works. As much as Rose is having a fun time traveling with the Doctor, I think we as the audience have just as much fun. It just makes sci-fi fun.

FAVORITE EPISODES:

Dalek (Episode 6): The first time we get a look at the newish Dalek and find out exactly what that plunger is for. I don’t want to spoil much with these mini-descriptions, so I’ll keep it semi-vague and brief. But in this episode you can see Rose’s strong character really come out and its effects on the Doctor.

The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances (Episodes 9-10): It’s a two-parter. We journey back to WWII London and meet up with Captain Jack (of Torchwood). There’s a strange child with a gas mask on reaking havoc as basically “the monster of the week.” I think I just liked this one because of all the clues leading up to the end and how it all works out.

And to be honest, I could call them all favorite episodes–they were great. The first season is only 13 episodes long, so we have to say goodbye to Eccleston sooner rather than later, but it’s an enjoyable ride. If you’ve been wondering about this rebooted series or if you loved the old series and want more, give it a go, you won’t regret it. It makes sci-fi fun and enjoyable.

How do I watch it?

Well, I’d recommend Netflix Instaview. It’s instant access to all 13 episodes and is included with your monthly subscription (if you’re on an $8.99 plan or better. I think the $4.99 has limitations). You could do it disc by disc via Netflix (which I’ve sort of had to do for season 2). Or check your area and see if your local library(ies) has it available for rent. Otherwise you’re looking at a pretty penny of $75 on Amazon.com or separate discs for about $30 each. Yeah, Netflix or library is probably your best bet. But hey, it’s a good reason to join up. I love Netflix! I’ve been a member since 2003 and it keeps getting better and better.

Look for a Doctor Who: Series 2 review once I’ve finished. I’ll tell you how it’s possible to trade Eccleston for Tennant. 🙂

And for the enjoyment of Doctor Who fans (you probably won’t think this is very funny unless you’ve seen at least a few episodes of Doctor Who), Eddie Izzard discusses Doctor Who. WARNING: Strong language likely included, so if you’re at work or around kids, put on your headphones. Get ready to LMAO.

*I tried to embed it, but it’s Megavideo, and well, here’s a link instead.
**I found a youtube link for embedding, but it’s about 2 mins in when he gets to Doctor Who. If you’ve never checked out Eddie Izzard before, he’s super random, but funny.