Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The Pilot - "Look, I know you know lots of stuff about, well, basically everything, but do you know any sci-fi?"

The Pilot - Wikipedia

Series 10, Story 01 (Overall Series Story #266) | Previous - Next | Index

Trippy Bill, image via GIPHY
In "Hell Bent," the Doctor explains the Matrix to Clara as "a big computer made of ghosts, in a crypt, guarded by more ghosts." He might as well have been a critic analyzing the show itself. This episode hammers the point home: Doctor Who is a show made of ghosts. Ghosts, echoes, reflections ... positively every scene is haunted by an element of its past.

And, that's OK. Everything old becomes new again, after all.

But, I don't want to start there. Rather, let's consider how Doctor Who exists in a TV universe alongside a show like The Expanse -- a series which I also enjoy very much, despite it's stark differences from DW. This is a tangent that probably has no place in a reaction post to this episode, but hear me out. The Expanse is classic, almost Heinlein-ian hard sci-fi. No time travel, no FTL travel, not even transporters or replicators; it's a show that, at first, we could be excused for thinking could never have anything to do with the magic-y, ghost-laden sci-fi/fantasy of the DW universe. Yet the Roci and her crew are exactly the sort of ship the TARDIS has materialized aboard any number of times. This Doctor and Bill could totally drop in to any of The Expanse's settings and the show would instantly be Doctor Who in a way Doctor Who could never be The Expanse.

Consider "The Waters of Mars," for instance. It's one of the haunts in "The Pilot," you couldn't help but recall it when Heather got all watery. That crew and that base are an example of exactly the kind of milieu the Doctor drops into all the time; but, imagine if the TARDIS never materialized near that particular base. The story of the Mars colony in "Waters" could have been a show of it's own. A show that might have been very, very like The Expanse. (The protomolecule not so unlike the life found on Mars ... ) This isn't to say DW is better than The Expanse, or that they *should* crossover, only how easy it is to imagine they could once you concede that DW, while not hard sci-fi, encompasses that genre, without being of it. DW is large, it contains multitudes. It is, after a fashion, bigger on the inside.

(This isn't to argue that Doctor Who is better than The Expanse, as a series or episode vs. episode. I dig The Expanse and don't intend to slog it, only to use it as a means to consider one facet of what's magical about DW.)

Reviewers that get to watch the episodes and write about them well before I do have already done an ace job ticking off all the boxes I might've here -- things like noticing the piece of the Mary Celeste down in the basement of the university where the Doctor's got a vault he's protecting -- so I'll link them, per usual, below and recommend giving 'em a read through.

Odds-n-ends:

  • Pearl Mackie deserves every nice thing that's been said about her as Bill. If some asshole has disparaged her performance in print, on the web, or out and about ... well, fuck that asshole because he's an idiot.
  • Look, it's very meta. But it stays this side of being entertaining because and in spite of how meta it is. It's not a new pilot, but it toys with the idea it could be.
  • I'm OK with Nardole, for now. I wasn't sure about him coming back for the last special, am less sure I want him sticking around as companion for a full season ... but maybe there's a point to him, and he's got good chemistry with the Doctor anyways. Worried though that I'll be sick of him soon.
  • Susan is going to be back, in some way, shape, or form, yeah? I mean, OK, I was sure she was going to be back a while ago, too, but this time it looks like a mortal lock.
  • Starting to read rumors today, not sure how credible, that David Bradley is going to return to play the First Doctor like we nearly have been asking for him to do since An Adventure in Space and Time. That would certainly make the return of Susan more likely. 
  • It should probably go without saying, but how great is it that Bill is gay and it's not A Very Special Episode of Doctor Who forced big deal? Extra great.
  • The way this episode shows moments in time as fixed images during the Doctor's lecture on the subject was quite well-executed, I thought. More of this kind of visual storytelling, please. Will the show take little risks like that under Chibnall? I worry that it won't. As much as we all have Moffat-fatigue to some degree or other, we may miss him more than even his biggest fans might think possible when he's no longer involved.
  • I cringed at the "I fatted her" joke even though it wasn't body shaming, the opposite, in fact. So I shouldn't have cringed, but I still wished Moffat hadn't even gone there. Is that some vestigial liberal guilt thing holding me back from appreciating a moment where a TV show, perhaps bravely, says "yeah, that girl is big, but she's sexy, deal with it"? 
  • The badge on Bill's jacket, that's the ghost of Ace. (Whose badges, it must be said, were much cooler.)


Additional Resources:
Tardis Wikia Entry
chakoteya.net transcript
Sandifer post 
This results in an episode that’s not so much uneven as threadbare. He [Moffat] clears so much room for selling the mundaneness of Bill that the episode plot is an afterthought. The puddle - that’s clearly what this monster needs to be called - is, charitably, a minimalist creation. Its explanation does not make anything vaguely resembling sense, and more to the point doesn’t actually try to. The best bits end up being what they often are with Moffat, which is the ritual performance of set pieces. His last big “bigger on the inside” is his most baroque yet, a glorious shaggy dog working its way towards the straightforward classic resolution. Objecting to the TARDIS being named in English is a solid choice of “let’s have Bill say something different.” The Australia gag’s actually great. As are a plethora of details: the Doctor’s “how can I help,” Bill’s “I don’t think they’re mine,” and of course Susan, River, and the TARDIS yelling at the Doctor to take her as a companion. But the whole is less than the sum of its parts. It still adds up to a lot, but that’s still an entirely true statement about “The Pilot.”
AV Club review - gives it a B grade.
A Steven Moffat episode is always good for at least one brilliant, off-kilter observation on the nature of the world. The Doctor’s explanation of how hungry looks a lot like evil from the wrong end of the cutlery is this episode’s entry in that particular canon.
TV Tropes page
When Bill and Heather first meet, "Love Will Tear Us Apart" is playing in the background.
Forgot to mention how much I loved that.

Radio Times

Locations guide

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Last Survivor of the 19th Century Has Passed



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With all the TV networks we have, and for the number of reality TV shows in production, it continues to amaze me that we don't have one that focuses on the oldest living humans.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Disgusting AF



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Wednesday, April 5, 2017

All 26 seasons of classic Doctor Who finally have a U.S. streaming home

All 26 seasons of classic Doctor Who finally have a U.S. streaming home | SyfyWire


This is legit exciting for me, at least, because I haven't been able to get a hold of Pertwee's final story, "Planet of the Spiders," and haven't seen it in probably 35 years.

~whispers~ BritBox won't want to hear this, but I'm planning to take advantage of the free trial to binge the heck out of stories I haven't seen in ages and don't own on DVD.



Saturday, March 25, 2017

Late Capitalism Retirement Planning



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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Running Over Cancer 5K 2017

It was just a "participation medal." But I still like it!

The ROC5K was my second 5K at the Cary Soccer complex, the SPCA run was also held there, and I was ready with potential excuses for not doing better than my last time running it, or my last race: got sick and missed days of running; it was cold after a morning snow; I biked on the Weds before the race and wrecked my legs, couldn't recover fast enough ...

But I don't need them, managed to set a new personal best, better even than my best practice run to date.

Now I've got a 5K lull until the Fuquay race this summer and need to keep biking for the longer term goal of completing a Sprint Triathlon in the Fall. So not knowing where I'll be with the training regimen changing, and how the coming warm weather will effect me, won't set a goal for the Run the Quay race yet, but I'd really like to keep getting faster these next few months and show marked improvement. 22:00 feels out of reach -- a time would've been competitive for my age group in this race  -- but maybe a time under 24 minutes isn't out of the question?

Race 1 - "Decem-burrrrr Dash" - 12/3/16 - 29:10
Race 2 - "SPCA Hot Chocolate Run" - 1/15/17 - 28:25
Race 3 - "I Heart 5K" - 2/11/17 - 26:58
Race 4 - "Running Over Cancer 5K" [official results] - 3/12/2017 - 25:32

Friday, March 10, 2017

We Need to Own Our Government



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Sunday, March 5, 2017

As We Await New York 2140, Worth Remembering How Great "The Gold Coast" Is



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Sunday Morning Noir Conversation Fragment



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Friday, February 17, 2017

Serenity Now!



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I got pretty nervous as soon as the producer said she was turning on her microphone, so I failed pretty hard at trying to make my point. What I wanted to say was I still love Serenity because it's energizing, hopeful escapism -- the kind we (I, at least) need more than ever these days. (By, "these days," I mean we got Trump making Nazis like Reavers set loose upon the 'verse and it's going to take all the little bands of principled folk working together to fix the broken pieces of society.)

All entertainment is political, whether we like it or not, even the escapist kind. The best westerns are about figuring out how to live together in a way that celebrates and protects people's freedoms. They show us people riding horses in the great wide open, sleeping under the stars, etc. but they also show how those cowboys and outlaws get bound together with the teachers, bartenders, sheriffs, and shopkeepers in a community that stands together against the cruel injustices of nature and greedy men. Serenity isn't merely sci-fi with Western trappings; it explores the themes that go along with the dusty long coats and holstered weapons as effectively as any John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, or Kevin Costner sun-drenched epic. Better than most, I'd argue. Certainly with less white supremacist baggage than the typical Western.

What actually came out of my mouth though was more, "OMG if only it were really possible to get the hell out from under our current government and bring it down with the righteous truth and blasters instead of having to carry around protest signs in marches and constantly getting my elected officials' voicemail to leave pleading messages for sanity -- messages that are ignored."


Sunday, February 12, 2017

I Heart 5K 2017

There's definitely something satisfying about setting a goal, then being able to tick it off. For my 3rd 5K, I wanted to be under 27 minutes and I managed it by logging a 26:58 time at the I Heart 5K run this weekend.



The course was fun, not much in the way of flat stretches, but the ups and downs weren't too steep overall. There were a couple long-ish, steep-ish hills, the last uphill climb coming to the finish was deadly, but I managed to only pass, and not be passed on that last one, so I felt pretty good about how I did.

Next race will be back in Cary at the soccer complex, same course I ran in January, so my goal will be to beat that time. Not sure I can say how the courses compare overall in terms of difficulty, but I hope I can go a little faster than I did in this last race. Have a feeling it will be tough though as I felt like I never let up in this last one, didn't leave anything in the tank. In the first couple, I feel like I didn't push myself the whole way, so my gains might be more about focus than improving fitness. Still, I'll keep up the every other day runs and try to keep a more consistent pace. The fact my fastest kilometer was the 4th, and was 20 seconds faster than the first, tells me I can be less conservative and come out a little faster. If I could do each kilometer around 5:10, that'd get me under 26 minutes ... probably too aggressive to shoot for in the next one. However, after the March race, the next one I've registered for is the Run the Quay in June, and I think I should set my goal for that race to at that point by then, maybe shoot for 25:30 or better.

If all goes to plan, I'll also have started swimming and biking before June, with an eye towards my first sprint triathlon in the fall, so I may be doing less running as I work in training for the other disciplines.

Race 1 - "Decem-burrrrr Dash" - 12/3/16 - 29:10
Race 2 - "SPCA Hot Chocolate Run" - 1/15/17 - 28:25
Race 3 - "I Heart 5K" - 2/11/17 - 26:58

Starting line

Approaching the finish line

Done.

Apparently cooking up an evil scheme, by the looks of things.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Women's March Write Up at Town Times by @RealMarkDionne



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Blumenthal Remains Problematic

OK, so apparently there was misquote and Blumenthal meant only that Dems shouldn't block the hearing. A slightly more reasonable stance than we first thought, but the remarks still apply. Dems need to resist, block, oppose at every step. The theft of this seat is still in progress, and there's no reason to reward them for it.

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Thursday, January 26, 2017

94 #AndCounting - UConn v. ECU

The UConn Women set a new record every time they play, so we took the drive out to ECU to see them win their 94th consecutive game. Gabby notched a triple double, a nice bonus for us to see only the 5th in UConn WBB history. A historic night on a couple fronts.

This will likely be the only game I see live this season, though I have some hope of catching a game towards the end of the year -- depending on their 2017-2018 pre-conference schedule -- whether this streak is still alive, or they've started another.

My daughter cheered on Katie Lou

We were all geared up


Always great to see 1st round WNBA draft pick and Husky great Morgan Tuck

There I am in the crowd during SNY's pre-game

Friday, January 20, 2017

Happy 83rd, Tom Baker!



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Thursday, January 19, 2017

A Study in White Privilege



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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Hot Chocolate Run 2017

One of my goals for this year was to finish in the top three for my age group in a 5K. Happy to report I managed it in my first race of the year (second ever) over the weekend.


Finished 48th out of 250 overall with a time of 28:25. That was well short of my goal of getting under 27:00 but I don't feel too bad as it was my first time on that particular course, which featured a pretty daunting hill that we had to run up twice. Despite the hill, my biggest race day source of irritation was that Pokemon Go crashed less than a minute into the race, so I didn't get to hatch an egg at the end. Grrrr.

I've signed up for races in February and March with the hope bettering my time with each race and finally cracking 27 minutes.

Race 1 - "Decem-burrrrr Dash" - 12/3/16 - 29:10
Race 2 - "SPCA Hot Chocolate Run" - 1/15/17 - 28:25
 

Monday, January 16, 2017

When You Put It That Way ...



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Friday, January 13, 2017

Emboldened Hypocrites to Enjoy 4 Years of Bold Hypocrisy



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Thursday, January 12, 2017

So That's What a Literal Death Panel Looks Like



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