Rating: Doctor Who, Season 2

We’re continuing to rewatch and rate Doctor Who (new series) with season 2. Here’s how the season looks to us:

  1. “The Christmas Invasion” – 6
  2. “New Earth” – 3.5
  3. “Tooth and Claw” – 9
  4. “School Reunion” – 5
  5. “The Girl in the Fireplace” – 9
  6. “Rise of the Cybermen” – 4
  7. “The Age of Steel” – 4
  8. “The Idiot’s Lantern” – 5
  9. “The Impossible Planet” – 8
  10. “The Satan Pit” – 7
  11. “Love and Monsters” – 4
  12. “Fear Her” – 5
  13. “Army of Ghosts” – 2.5
  14. “Doomsday” – 2

Season 2 carries on much in the same spirit as season 1, with a mix of highs and lows, and ends up with the same average rating, 5.3. David Tennant slides easily into his role as the tenth Doctor, although we found Rose started to wear thin as a companion in this season and by the end of it we weren’t sorry to see the back of her. (In fact, by the end of the season, we were much more excited to see her erstwhile boyfriend Mickey return than to see any more of Rose.)

The low point of the season comes at the very end, with “Doomsday”—the conclusion to a two-part finale in which Cybermen and Daleks fight in the skies over London—coming it at only a 2. Many things dragged this episode down, including the ham-fisted introduction of Torchwood, which had been teased all season long. Worse, coming after some of the well-crafted storytelling in previous episodes, this one chucks out any attempt at story development or narrative logic in favor of Daleks and Cybermen trash talking each other.

By contrast, the best episodes of the season, “Tooth and Claw” and “The Girl in the Fireplace,” both at 9, show off how effective the slow unfolding of complex stories can be. “Tooth and Claw” has Queen Victoria menaced by an alien werewolf in the Scottish highlands while “The Girl in the Fireplace” has Madame de Pompadour menaced by clockwork robots from the future. Although both these episodes involve historical women in danger, neither is a “damsel in distress” story, as both Victoria and Madame de Pompadour get to play active roles in their stories. These episodes also share a pattern of multi-layered plots in which things that seem bizarre and inexplicable at first gradually become clear as pieces of the story fall into place one after another.

We know there are lots of other Doctor Who fans out there, and some of you probably feel quite different about this season and its episodes. We’d love to hear your take. Let us know which episodes of season 2 worked for you or didn’t.

Image: Doctor Who Season 2 via IMDb

In the Seen on Screen occasional feature, we discuss movies and television shows of interest.

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Why the Doctor Can’t Change the Fate of Krypton

Like you can gather from the season 1 rating post, we’re re-watching Doctor Who. An expected consequence is I’m having bit of a Doctor brain. Case in point: the comic I found funniest in this collection of imaginary text messages between Batman and Superman involved the Doctor.

Texts from Superheroes Krypton Fixed Point

Batman: Why do you always change in a phonebooth?

Superman: I like them. A blue one showed up on Krypton once. My father said it’s where heroes come from.

Batman: Was it bigger on the inside?

Superman: YES! I think my pediatrician owned it. He’s the one who told Jor-El to send me to Earth. He said being the last makes us stronger.

Batman: I’m familiar with The Doctor. I’m surprised he didn’t save Krypton.

The Doctor: Fixed point in time. I am so sorry.

LOLed—and groaned.

Yoinked from Texts from Superheroes, a project of stand-up comedian Andrew Ivimey and Internet comedian Diana McCallum, and part of the From Superheroes Network.

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Rating: Doctor Who, Season 1

We have continued our rewatching-and-rating project into a series with a bigger fan following: the rebooted Doctor Who that began its broadcast life in 2005. We know that there are a lot of Who fans out there who are passionate about the series and feel strongly about certain episodes and characters. Here’s how we felt about the first season, starring Christopher Eccleston as the Doctor and Billie Piper as his companion Rose.

  1. “Rose” – 4
  2. “The End of the World” – 4
  3. “The Unquiet Dead” – 4.5
  4. “Aliens of London” – 6
  5. “World War Three” – 6
  6. “Dalek” – 4
  7. “The Long Game” – 4.5
  8. “Father’s Day” – 5.5
  9. “The Empty Child” – 8.5
  10. “The Doctor Dances” – 10
  11. “Boom Town” – 5
  12. “Bad Wolf” – 4
  13. “The Parting of the Ways” – 3

It’s a rocky start to the new show, which is understandable given how much weight this first season had to carry: living up to the nostalgia for the old show while proving that the Doctor Who formula could be made fresh, new, and relevant for a new generation. The average episode rating for this season is 5.3, which is low but decent.

The lowest-rate episode of the season is the finale, “The Parting of the Ways,” in which the Doctor faces off against a Dalek invasion of Earth in the future while Rose desperately tries to get back to him from the present. It rated only a 3 for several reasons. There are pacing and structural issues with the story and its ending relies too much on an almost literal dea ex machina. We find Dalek stories generally weak because the Daleks are flat as characters and overpowered as antagonists.

The standout best episode of the season, though, is “The Doctor Dances” at a full 10. In WWII-era London, the Doctor and Rose deal with both dashing Time Agent-turned-con artist Jack Harkness and a monster that looks like a little boy in a gas mask but who turns those he touches into mindless gas-mask-faced shadows of themselves. As the conclusion to a two-part story after the very strong “The Empty Child,” this episode is full of both sparkling wit, clever sci-fi ideas, and powerful human drama.

This season’s heart (or hearts) are in the right place, even if it doesn’t always deliver. The “dig in the couch cushions and see what you find” special effects budget of the old show was always part of its quirky charm, but the fist season of the new show clearly struggled to live within its means. Not every episode pulled off the right balance of whimsy and pathos. Still, this season did what it needed to: it brought us back the Doctor and the TARDIS and prepared the way for greater adventures to come.

We know there are lots of other Doctor Who fans out there, and some of you probably feel quite different about this season and its episodes. We’d love to hear your take. Let us know which episodes of season 1 worked for you or didn’t.

Image: Doctor Who Series 1 via IMDb

In the Seen on Screen occasional feature, we discuss movies and television shows of interest.

Stained Glass Dalek

Did you see this amazing stained glass Dalek already?

Jamie Anderson Chris Thompson Stained Glass Dalek Stainley-1050x1050

Producer / director / writer Jamie Anderson worked with designer Chris Thompson to help make the lead and stained glass Dalek a reality. It’s based on a Doctor Who audio drama script by Mike Tucker called Order of the Daleks.

Thompson describes the making-of process:

“My main thought process was to create a “Gothic” Dalek and replace all the flat surfaces with glass designs. My initial sketches had palisades, crowns, spikes and other gothic elements, but we decided to dial a lot of these back for story reasons. In the episode itself these Dalek casings are made by very primitive monks so the focus needed to be on the stained glass and not the metal elements.”

The detailing is absolutely exquisite. There is, of course, more to the design than that—visit Jamie Anderson’s site for the full story and the meaning of some of the elements.

Found via Tor.com.

Image via Jamie Anderson

Out There is an occasional feature highlighting intriguing art, spaces, places, phenomena, flora, and fauna.

Third Person

I have to write a biographical paragraph for a conference. Ugh. I hate writing about myself in the third person.

I’m trying to be all

160205Caesarbut feeling more like

160205jonesOh well. It goes with the territory, I guess. I like to think that being awkward about your own accomplishments is one of the tests of being a decent person. (But, then, does congratulating myself on being a decent person mean I’m actually not..? Argh! Why is it so hard?!)

Oh well. That’s my dose of self-pity for the day.

Images: Bust of Caesar, photograph by Andrea Wahra via Wikimedia (Naples; 1st c. BCE; marble) and text from Caesar, Gallic War 1.54, collage by Erik Jensen. Harriet Jones via brittaperry

When the suckage just sucks too much.

Doctor Who Season 9 Kickoff Event in Theaters

…aaand there’s more Doctor Who season 9 news I seem to have missed! Fathom Events has put together a 3d-showing of the two-part season 8 ender just in time before Doctor Who season 9 airs on BBC America (starting September 19th).

Doctor Who: Dark Water/Death in Heaven Trailer by Fathom Events

According to the Mashable article on the season kickoff event,

“BBC Worldwide and Fathom Events will broadcast a 3D version of Season 8’s two-part finale, ‘Dark Water’/’Death in Heaven,’ in approximately 700 movie theaters across the U.S. on Sept. 15 and 16. The screenings will also feature a special prequel scene for Doctor Who‘s Season 9 premiere (ambiguously titled ‘The Doctor’s Meditation’) and an exclusive interview with the Doctor and his companion themselves, Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman.”

File 770 reports that the exclusive interview is hosted by Wil Wheaton.

We went to see “The Day of the Doctor” event two years ago and it was great fun. As opposed to “The Day of the Doctor” event, though, this one doesn’t show a completely new story, but packages two already-aired episodes (that have been out on disc for a long time too) with two extra clips. Even the added gimmick of 3d is a repeat from “The Day” showing. While I (literally!) applaud celebrating the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who with a special new story and movie event, this one smacks of a badly-disguised money grab. I’ll pass.

In the Seen on Screen occasional feature, we discuss movies and television shows of interest.

 

Doctor Who Season 9 Trailer

Aah, I can’t believe I missed this: the official Doctor Who season 9 trailer has been out for two months!

Official Doctor Who Season 9 Trailer by BBC America

First jumble of thoughts: Production values look amazing! I don’t like this angry Doctor. What’s with Capaldi’s hair? Is that a dalek city? That’s definitely Missy. Electric guitar? Whoa – the Doctor wearing wedding bands – did I miss something? Yay, Maisie Williams!

Apart from that, I wish Moffat would either write only or produce only. When he tries to do both, the quality suffers. The episodes Moffat wrote for the seasons produced by Julie Gardner and Russel T. Davies were brilliant. Since then, he’s been mediocre at best.

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Hypothetical Rock-ing Doctor Who and Companion

Upon seeing Hayley Atwell declare her desire to be Doctor Who in this tweet

Carolyn Cox at The Mary Sue suggested that Atwell’s Doctor be paired with a companion played by The Rock (who apparently is hankering to work with Atwell).

Oh, yes! Where can I throw my money at to make this happen?!

Hey, look! We found a thing on the internet! We thought it was cool, and wanted to share it with you.