Wednesday, October 7, 2015

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Tuesday, October 6, 2015

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Saturday, October 3, 2015

Under the Lake / Before the Flood - "I'm very sorry for your loss. I'll do all I can to solve the death of your friend slash family member slash pet."

Under the Lake - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Series 9, Episode 3 (Overall Series Story #259a) | Previous - Next | Index

[A few housekeeping notes: as with last week (and expect to do for the rest of Series 9), I'm going to post a reaction to the first part of each story, but hold off grading it or considering the post final until after the second part airs. I'll use the bottom of this post - after the divider - for the reaction to the second part, then come back and remove this bit. And, as always ... Spoilers]

The thing about ghosts, if you're going to have proper ghosts in your ghost story, is they're going to gnaw at me because I don't have a much patience for the eternal soul malarkey ghosts are typically predicated on outside the context of supernatural fiction. But, this isn't a proper ghost story, it's Doctor Who borrowing some ghost story business, and there's ways to let "souls" stand in as shorthand for some process which separates consciousness from the body based on alien tech jiggery-pokery that doesn't necessarily imply humans have ghostly souls. It's October, Halloween month, if you can't chill and enjoy a spooky ghost story, what kind of fun are you going to have anyways?

And enjoy it I did. Sure, it's got all the trappings of routine corridor run-around, but for well-trodden ground, it's a got distinctive touches. It's not clear if we should be reading anything into the Doctor telling Clara there's only room for one him in the TARDIS as he reacts tetchily to her thirst for adventure, if that's going to be a wedge that drives them apart and takes on significance when Clara eventually leaves; but, putting aside what, if any, longer game is being played, all on its own this one's got hooks.

Reflections of the text on the eye, reflections of ghosts on glass, and attempts to understand an unheard speaker through glass (shades) and more glass (the thick glass of the Faraday cage door) -- this has Jane written all over it. Anticipating that'll all be well covered without me bumbling around analyzing it, I'll just let the picture tell the story on that front.

Another touch that leapt out at me was the elaborate dragon mural in the galley. I mean, it's possible the set designers were just feeling their oats or they just had a mural lying around used what was handy, but that certainly looked like something that was supposed to catch our eye and leave an image in mind.

The ability of text to change our minds, both the objects of our consciousness and on a material level, the connections of our synapses, is a powerful theme to invoke. There's body horror, and then there's mind horror; while this isn't going to make anyone feel they've just been mindfucked like they just watched Wheatley's Kill List or anything, we're talking about that kind of horror. I, for one, appreciate the distance.

How great is it, by the way, to have a deaf character played by talented deaf actress where her deafness doesn't make her a target or an object of pity. She's the leader of the crew (with Moran dying first), and she's bright and competent enough that the Doctor gets over his stated intent to ignore the person in charge.

Fans and critics are comparing this one to "The Impossible Planet / The Satan Pit" for its atmosphere and set-up, as well as "42," and we might as well include "The Silence in the Library / The Forest of the Dead," "The Rebel Flesh / The Almost People," and pull from the grab bag of atmospheric bases-under-siege. Well-trodden ground, for sure. "Under the Lake" works as well as any of them. It calls back to other kinds of stories as well ... we've seen the Doctor lose patience with folks concerned about Scotland's oil industry before as well, more than a tip of the Balmoral to "Terror of the Zygons" here, if you ask me.

Where stories like this tend to stumble is in giving the crew of the base enough personality to make them distinguishable. Bennett and Lunn here are problematic, or at least Bennett is, because Lunn's clearly important as Cass's interpreter and the one she's protecting from the writing on the wall -- which has already been shown to be signficant, and figures to be again in part two -- but it's hard to see Bennett as having any utility as a character except to be the next one to die.

Speaking of characters destined to get the shaft, it's always painful when the one black guy in the cast is the first to get killed off. Seriously, writers and casting directors, of all the ground to trod to mud, this dogged determination to always kill the black guy first has gone beyond being cliche to something like a pathology.

Watched it twice now and it's holding up. Taut and well-paced, which is really saying something for one that's got so much corridor running and screen-watching in it.

Oh, and that cliffhanger, it's quite a good one. Comes at a time that feels natural in the story, and gives us a proper jolt.

Stray Thoughts:

O'Donnell pronounces herself a huge fan of the Doctor. A wink to fandom by Whithouse? But does it mean she's going to die like Osgood?

The cards:

Sandifer points out in his post that it must be the Doctor in the suspended animation pod. That ought to tie up the loose ends nicely.

The Doctor's fascination at running into ghosts is fun to watch. "A bit murdery, but even so!" Again, every scene, no matter how many times we've seen it in Who before, he brings something to it. I keep droning on and on about it, but he's made for this part.

Why, as many have noted, didn't the crew set the base to permanent day-mode the instant they realized the ghosts only come out at simulated night?

And do the sonic shades not have zoom?

As far as coordinates go, again I'm not the first to point this out, but really, there are towns submerged by dams all over the place. Even if somebody could figure out navigation by constellation references (which, they could?!), how the heck is "forsaken" enough of a direction to orient aliens to a submerged town in Scotland?

The earworm the Doctor mentions, "Mysterious Girl" by Peter Andre, I had to look it up. May yet wish I hadn't.

Update regarding the mural:

Before the Flood - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Series 9, Episode 4 (Overall Series Story #259b) | Previous - Next | Index

[Watch this space for updates after "Before the Flood" airs!]

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New Who spinoff 'Class' looks more SJA than Torchwood

BBC Three Announces 'Doctor Who' Spinoff 'Class' - Hollywood Reporter

Set in contemporary London, Class centers on incredible dangers that breaking through the walls of time and space. With darkness coming, the city is left unprotected. The announcement promises to reveal a side of Doctor Who and Coal Hill School that fans have never seen before.
The picture is just speculation, no casting news yet, but it'd be strange to set a spin off at Coal Hill School and not have Courtney and Maebh in it.

Also, William Russell is 90, so if we're going to see Ian Chesterton in the DW universe again, lets not dawdle.

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