Sunday, August 28, 2011

Let's Kill Hitler

HITLER: He was going to kill me...
RORY: Shut up, Hitler!
DOCTOR: Rory, take Hitler and put him in that cupboard over there.


Like, seriously, spoilersLet's Kill Hitler directly continues a story seeded in 2008 and threaded through three seasons.  Every River Song episode leads to this one.  And it's impossible to talk about this episode without referring to its many, many revelations.

But it's a good one.  Not perfect, and yet another episode that should have been doubled in length, but fast, funny, clever, compelling, and, for the most part, satisfying.


The Green Death

Jo Grant is one of the great empowered women in Doctor Who.

From The Time Monster

Seriously.  It's totally true.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Planet of the Daleks

Seven thousand one, seven thousand two, seven thousand three...

Generally, when Whovians complain about Planet of the Daleks, it revolves around Terry Nation's liberal plundering of his first Dalek story, The Dead Planet.  It's certainly structured similarly, with one episode mostly of the heroes wandering alone through a strange planet, after which our heroes are trapped deep underground by the Daleks until about halfway through the story, when they escape and prepare their daring final assault, which takes place in the final episode.  Additionally, the Thals turn up again and explicitely reference the events of Dead Planet.  The Daleks plan to release a virus, just as they planned to release radiation in the original.  Our heroes hide inside a Dalek casing to infiltrate the base.  And so forth.

And while we're at it, the invisible creatures in the dangerous jungle are a direct lift from The Daleks' Master Plan.

There are a couple of notes to this problem.  The first is that, when this was first broadcast, there hadn't been a traditional Dalek story since 1967; their brief appearances tacked onto Day of the Daleks certainly weren't a satisfying return for them.  So for viewers of the time, it was the first real Dalek story in six years, and returning to the familiar elements would be refreshing.  It's only now, when you can chose to watch them side-by-side that it's really an issue.

The second is that even with his self-plundering, Nation still creates a highly entertaining, action-packed yarn.  It's not perfect, and doesn't hold up to his '60s Dalek scripts, but that doesn't mean it isn't a lot of fun.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Carnival of Monsters

Robert Holmes is generally considered Doctor Who's greatest writer for good reason: he was able to write stories that stayed entertaining through their entire length through great characterization, dialogue, and world-building.  But look close enough at many of his stories, and you also find something highly subversive.  In fact, if he's not the writer in charge of things, he's very often biting the very hand feeding him (and a hand for which he has obvious affection).  Under the many layers of Caves of Androzani resides a subtle critique of the entire Fifth Doctor era and a sense that Holmes is saying, "This is how you should have been doing things the last three years."  The Krotons seems a deliberate attempt to re-align the Second Doctor's stories with his characterization, something that rarely happened outside of David Whitaker's scripts.  The Two Doctors barely even hides its contempt, instead reveling in its mockery of the era's over reliance on continuity references and ugly violence.

Carnival of Monsters has self-satirical ideas of its own, albeit of a different sort from those above.  But like Caves, on the surface of its subversion is a terrific adventure yarn, and is a blast to watch without seeing a hint of what's going on underneath.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Three Doctors

Let's reflect for a moment on just how insane this story is: three different incarnations of the same character working together for a single story.  Think of how crazy it would be to watch a Bond movie, except with Sean Connery, Roger Moore, and Timothy Dalton all playing different Bonds working together.  Or a Sherlock Holmes movie with Basil Rathbone, Jeremy Brett, and Robert Downey Jr.  Or Batman with Adam West, Michael Keaton, and Christian Bale.  It's a crazy notion of metafiction, forcing together three things that are the same, and yet totally incompatible.  It's fun to mess around with that sort of thing, but the fact is that it just doesn't work on a literal level.  It's just not possible within those stories for multiple ones to exist together.  Plus, the clash of styles would be in many ways incompatible.

So it's worth noting just how crazy this show is that putting three Doctors together in the same story not only works, but seems absolutely natural and normal.