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Posts Tagged ‘anticipation is makin’ me wait’

Sixty Things I Like About Who: #38 – 43

December 24th, 2009 No comments

Continuing my marathon retrospective of the past five years of Doctor Who

#38:  “Bad Wolf”/”The Parting of the Ways”

There are times that I wish I could resist the temptation of spoilers. Case in point: the two-part finale of the first season, which at first glance appeared to be a silly spoof of reality TV before taking a sharp turn into one of the all-time great cliffhangers.

Kidnapped from the TARDIS in mid-flight, the Doctor, Rose and Captain Jack found themselves aboard the Earth-orbiting Gamestation, forced to play deadly analogues of Big Brother, The Weakest Link and What Not to Wear. The centerpiece of the episode was surely the “Anne Droid,” a robotic version of host/dominatrix Anne Robinson that dismissed losing contestants with a disintegrating ray blast.

You are the weakest link! Goodbye!

One might find it a bit unbelievable that they’re still playing a recognizable version of Big Brother in the year 200,100. On the other hand, how many times have we brought back Family Feud and Let’s Make a Deal?

The Doctor was devastated when it appeared that Rose had fallen victim to the Anne Droid, but soon learned that those “killed” aboard the Gamestation were instead secretly transmatted to a nearby point in open space…where a massive Dalek saucer fleet hung invisibly.

Now, if you’ve been following this series of posts, you’ve already seen the cliffhanger (item #11) in which the Doctor defied the might of a quarter million Daleks. Part two picked up with a daring rescue mission as the Doctor materialized the TARDIS around Rose, then stepped outside to confront the massive Emperor Dalek. The next half hour was thrilling and devastating, with the Doctor’s allies delaying the Daleks’ advance on the upper floors of the Gamestation while the Time Lord sought a means of defeating them.

The final solution involved a literal deus ex machina, with Rose granted temporary omnipotence after the TARDIS charged her with the energy of the Time Vortex. I usually find it a cop-out when a hopeless situation is resolved by someone unexpectedly glowing with cosmic power.* However, on this occasion I felt that there’d at least been sufficient signposting throughout the season that the sudden turn of events didn’t come completely out of nowhere.

And besides, there was a price to pay: the loss of the 9th Doctor. Christopher Eccleston, we barely knew ye.

*It happens more often than you might think.

#39:  “Look! I’ve Even Brought a Straw!”

In “Smith and Jones,” the Doctor raced to uncover a disguised Plasmavore before a squad of brutish Judoon police tore apart Royal Hope Hospital. The fugitive bloodsucker took the form of a sweet, old lady named Florence Finnegan. As if that wasn’t whimsical enough, her death-dealing implement of choice was…a bendy straw.

I might actually see Twilight if Edward armed himself with a bendy straw.

Ah, who am I kidding? Give me an old British woman over a shirtless, sparkly vampire any day.

#40:  Harriet Jones, M.P., Flydale North

Portrayed by Penelope Wilton (Shaun’s mom in Shaun of the Dead), Harriet Jones was a local politician caught up in the crisis when the Slitheen infiltrated Downing Street. Her two most notable traits were level-headedness and an obsessive need to identify herself. (“Harriet Jones, M.P., Flydale North.”)

The Doctor–having knowledge of future events–noted that Jones would soon be elected Prime Minster and oversee a new “Golden Age” for Britain. Indeed, when we next saw Harriet, she was serving in that post. She continued to identify herself (“Harriet Jones, Prime Minister”) even though everyone–including the Sycorax and the Daleks–already knew who she was.

Unfortunately, she did not finish out her term. Destroying the retreating Sycorax spaceship during “The Christmas Invasion,” she was (unfairly, in my book) deposed by an angry Doctor who brought her down by suggesting to her aide that she “look(ed) tired.”*

Harriet Jones, Former Prime Minister continued to fight the good fight, commissioning the creation of a “subwave network” to contact the Doctor in an emergency. When the Daleks transmatted the Earth to become a cog in their celestial engine, she helped the Doctor locate the missing planet and was exterminated for her trouble.

*Given that her successor was the Master, this was a poor move on the Doctor’s part.

#41:  Jimmy Vee

Every sci-fi franchise needs a dependable little person to play aliens of shorter stature. For new Who (and spin-0ff The Sarah Jane Adventures), that actor is Jimmy Vee. He’s been the Moxx of Balhoon, the Space Pig and Nathan Slitheen. He’s also made several appearances as the mercenary Graske.

But his most significant role was the red, spiky Bannakaffalatta from “Voyage of the Damned.” One of the passengers aboard a space-going–and similarly doomed–replica of the Titanic, the charming alien successfully hit on a waitress played by Kylie Minogue. That’s pretty fly for a red guy.

Bannakaffalatta met a tragic end aboard the Titanic. The craft was sabotaged and its robotic servants reprogrammed to hunt down the survivors. Revealing himself to be a cyborg–something frowned upon in his society–Bannakaffalatta sacrificed himself by detonating his power core to cripple the angelic, android Hosts.

But as long as there’s a need for aliens with a height of less than four feet, I’m sure that Jimmy Vee will be there.

#42:  Immediate Gratification

This is perhaps more of a Thing I Like About the Internet, but being an American fan of Doctor Who is now sooooooo much more satisfying than it was in the old days.

Back then, it could take years for new episodes to make their way into U.S. broadcast syndication. If you didn’t care to wait, you needed to find someone in England willing to record the series for you, then figure out how to transfer the video from Britain’s PAL format to our own NTSC. As for the rare “missing” episodes, your only recourse was to watch one of the fuzzy, fifteenth-generation VHS tapes circulated by fan clubs.

Fast forward to 2005 when an early version of the premiere episode “Rose” was leaked online before it had even aired in England. Peer-to-peer file transfer meant that U.S. fans had to wait hours instead of years for the latest episode. PAL to NTSC? Fergetabowdit!

“The End of Time” will be on U.S. television only a day after its BBC debut. While that’s not quite a record–1983’s 2oth anniversary special “The Five Doctors” aired on American public TV two days prior to its British premiere–it suggests that for stateside Who fans delayed gratification is history.

#43:  Daleks Über Alles

At least as far back as the 1975 origin story “Genesis of the Daleks” there’s been a metaphorical link between the nasty pepperpots and Nazi Germany. Born in a Hitleresque bunker, the Daleks are proponents of racial purity, even exterminating their own kind for the crime of being not quite Daleky enough.

In the 2008 episode “Journey’s End” the metaphor was driven home in this brief scene set “60 miles outside Nuremberg.”

C’mon, Give Me A Token Guinea Pig

May 21st, 2009 No comments

Here’s a full-length trailer for the V remake. It hits all the right notes. Still lacking the rodent-eating, but I imagine that they’re saving that for the actual show.

And here’s another preview which, while shorter, features a bit more action:

My personal expectation level has been upgraded from “guardedly optimistic” to “when’s this thing gonna premiere, already?”