The Caretaker Review

Okay, okay! I know I’m late with this one, but I just got around to watching the episode.  Don’t hate me too much… I’m a busy woman!  As an extra added reminder, this site is not my job.  I have a full time job on top of this and am attempting to hold down some sort of life.  So cut me a little slack, hmmmm?

All right, with that bit of whining out of the way, on to the good stuff!  I’m writing this on my first viewing of the episode (as I’m watching), so it’s first impressions only.

We start out with the Doctor and Clara in trouble.

“Why do you have two jackets?  Is one of them faulty?” – The Doctor

Good, a little humor with our danger right off the bat.  Already I’m a happy girl.  So we get to see what Clara has been up to lately, and it looks exhausting!  She’s been balancing her adventures with the Doctor with her relationship with Danny, keeping her time travelling secret… wonder how long that will last now that “John Smith” is working at the school?

The look on Clara’s face when he shows up is priceless.*

ClaraPanic

 “Did you see those eyebrows?” – Danny Pink

So the Doctor is going to try to pass himself off as an actual person in the school.  This should end well…

“River and I, we had this big fight” – The Doctor

I love the nod to the past, without making a big thing about it.  However, it feels like 12 is sometimes making more references to the past than actually living in the present.  Maybe I just notice it more, but it feels that way.

We next see our monster-of-the-week and a death.  Just enough to show us the kids aren’t safe before heading back to the school.  The Doctor can’t keep his nose out of Clara’s class and Clara gets annoyed.  Still no real story development, but it makes for some amusing banter.  The Doctor and Danny finally meet.  It causes much panic for Clara, especially when she sees the Doctor being his usual rude self (continuously calling Danny a PE teacher) but I noticed she didn’t immediately come out and say who he was.

When the Doctor thinks another teacher is Clara’s boyfriend, he follows the couple around like an interested yet amused puppy.  It’s actually quite adorable!

The annoying kid that’s been making fun of Clara all episode has a little run in with the Doctor, but then it’s time to get some answers…

“Why do I keep you around?” – The Doctor “Because the alternative would be developing a conscious of your own” – Clara

When the Doctor pulled out his new toy, I immediately thought of Q (from the James Bond movies).  I feel like he needs his own Q…  Anyway, Clara and the Doctor finally have a conversation about her “boyfriend”.  It’s painfully apparent from the get-go that they aren’t talking about the same person, but I enjoyed watching it play out anyway.  I’m sure it’ll blow up soon.

Danny cancels plans with Clara, and I have a weird feeling we’ll see him in some sort of a non-teachery role later in this episode or soon after (military, companion, something else?).  It was very mysterious, and it made for a very awkward conversation.  Without plans, we see both Danny and Clara at the school.  Danny seems to be investigating some alien tech while Clara searches for the Doctor, who’s already gone on his mission.

Now that Danny has messed with things, the Doctor’s plans aren’t going to work out very well.  We wind up in danger yet again, but it only lasts for seconds.  I feel like the baddie wasn’t there enough for me to care about anyone’s safety or the Doctor’s mission.  I know this is mostly meant to be a character driven episode, but the lack of action to this point has been a little disappointing.  It wouldn’t be bad if I’d felt like we were advancing the overall arc more, but after the last episode I’m finding this lackluster at best.  However, with half the episode left it does have time to redeem itself.

It doesn’t take long for me to get some satisfaction… Danny realizes what’s going on and we finally get to have this out!

“You’ve made a boyfriend error” – The Doctor

Clara finally spills her feelings for Danny, the Doctor has his anger out and poor Danny is just confused.  He finally gets the truth.  He finally gets to see the TARDIS, but it doesn’t get to be wondrous or exciting.  Instead there’s a lot of anger, Clara is uncomfortable and the Doctor is demanding an explanation for her choice in men.  I actually found this part quite well done, and in my opinion the best part of the episode so far.

Clara and Dannie finally have a heart to heart about the whole time travel thing and the Doctor.  She has to express her feelings about him and why she does what she does, even if she doesn’t fully understand it herself.  More importantly, she has to realize that she’s been hiding her real self from Danny and cheating him out of an honest relationship.  He’s obviously hurt, and I can’t say I wouldn’t feel the same in his position.

As a good faith gesture she sneaks Danny into the TARDIS so he can see what really goes on.  Only the Doctor isn’t that stupid and calls her bluff.  Danny reveals himself and there’s a fight.  Now, yes, the Doctor is being a complete jerk.  Danny is just as guilty though, and poor Clara is caught in the middle.  Stuck between your friend and boyfriend.  As someone who’s been there, I can tell you it’s a terrible feeling.

Unfortunately for our teachers, it’s parents night.  It’s also the night when our baddie returns.  Clara will be our decoy while the Doctor gets his contraption working… but what about Danny?  Guess he finally gets to see Clara in action… or he gets to jump in and help.  That man can do a serious flip.  I do have a bit of an issue with nice strong Clara running straight into his arms while the danger is still going on, but I’ll let that slide I guess.

Everyone has reached an understanding, and I’ve got some of that development I wanted.  We see that Danny really cares for Clara, and the Doctor just wants him to be good enough for her… which shows how much he also cares for her.  Really, there’s a lot of love beneath all that anger.

We get another flash of Missy, but this time our dead guy didn’t die for the Doctor so maybe that’s why they weren’t meeting officially.  I felt like this was a wasted scene, as there was no progress at all.

So overall I wasn’t really happy with the episode, but I’m glad the whole secret life thing is out and the meeting between Danny and the Doctor is over.  I really do like Clara better this season, though it feels like they’re setting her up to leave the TARDIS for a life with Danny.  I find Danny to be a bit dull, but if they let Samuel Anderson give the character a bit of life (he was really charming for a split second this week) I think he could be really enjoyable.

What are your opinions?  Feel free to let me know in the comments!

*Yes.  I totally paused the ep to make this!

Time Heist Review

I’m actually writing this one “live” during my first watch-through of the episode.  So please ignore any weirdness with tense.  Big spoilers, as usual.

We start the episode off well enough, Clara on her way to a date.  That only lasts until the TARDIS phone rings.

All of a sudden we find ourselves in a room with a couple extra people and find that everyone has had their memory wiped.  Good start, I’m curious!

So we have a bank we’re supposed to rob and what appears to be a new monster in a box.  The next part kind of reminds me of a movie that I saw long ago about a heist (the music and all) but I can’t quite wrap my head around the name of it.

Doesn’t matter, ignore my lack of brains.  What it comes down to is that we have a teller that’s actually a brain souping monster (although he looks like he’s in prison).  That will soon be what banks do in real life, won’t it?  When our little group thought about blowing through the floor, I realized the TARDIS must absolutely be in the bank.  I’d had my suspicions from Clara’s offhand comment before, but I felt like that confirmed it.

A little filler, then we accidently come face to face with the teller in his box/cage.  A scare for Clara, then Saibra is forced to… dispose of herself.  Only I don’t feel like she killed herself.  To me, it looks like a teleporter.  I’m sure we’ll get to that later.

On we go and of course we’re forced to split up.  Clara gets caught but Psi saves her.  We start to look through the vaults, but then… caught!  So it turns out the teller is also the last of his kind, and the prison-type-getup looks that way for a reason after all.

Then the aha moment.  Our new “friends” are alive and the TARDIS is in orbit.  The escape is made from our villain, and we head for the vault again.  At 3/4  of the way through, I feel like we’ve hardly seen Ms. Delphox, and I see her as more scared than evil.

“excuse us, but we’ve come to rob you”

Clones… Didn’t see that one coming.  We finally get a rant from the Doctor, and this is where he’s got it all figured out.

“Shuttipy up up up”

When the teller feeds, I love that we get a nod back to all the old Doctors.  Really, though, this is about getting the Doctor’s memory back and seeing how they got there.  Then we understand that the teller is not alone, and the real reason for the mission.  We skip ahead to see the Doctor saved the day, and really are we surprised?

Our ending sends Clara back for her date, and the Doctor with a comment leading to suggest he wants to one-up Danny.  Do I detect a note of jealousy?

All right, my opinion after watching it the first time?  It’s kind of a fun stand-alone episode.  It’s not that fun, and I wasn’t that impressed with it.  The whole time I was thinking I’d seen Psi before.  Turns out he’s Jonathan Bailey and was in Broadchurch.  This would not have drawn my attention so much if the episode was better.  I felt like the characters in the episode weren’t “complete” enough (as if they were all just window dressing), and the story didn’t lean towards the dark or the fun enough one way or the other.  I might not have minded if there was progress with the main story arc, but we didn’t even get that.  Yes, the more I think about it the more I feel disappointed.

I’ve heard that watching the episode a second time makes it better, so I definitely intend to do that… As of right now I’m expecting more from next week.

Thoughts?

Oh, and I was sooo wrong about the TARDIS being in the bank!

Listen Review

Oh how I love Who day! As usual, spoilers.

The opening speech made 12 seem a little crazy, until his chalk took on a life of its own… But it definitely had my attention!

Then we see Clara and her date with Danny.  Again, the very cool flash forward.  Again, so very uncomfortable… then to a good time… then to anger and walking out.  This relationship just isn’t going well.  You can physically feel it when things are uncomfortable, which I  think was done well.

I love the biting remarks of 12.  He is so rude and has no idea… it’s awesome, and I wish I could get away with this sometimes.  But that only lasts a moment, and then the creepy begins.  Just enough to tease, then Clara is hooked up to the TARDIS to check out her nightmares.  This is a bit of a terrifying thought.  I noticed the TARDIS doesn’t want to let her go, which makes me wonder if this will lead into something else later.

So, since Clara manages to get herself distracted, we wind up seeing Danny as a child.  Finally, we see 12 use the psychic paper to investigate things.  Note that the Doctor is drinking coffee, while Clara goes to have a chat with Danny about his dreams.  They’re right, everyone has had that dream.  Human nature,.. but what’s on top of the bed?  Whatever it is, the Doctor feels the need to lecture about adrenaline while it sits there.  We have a bit of tension, then the mysterious creature disappears.

Capaldi’s Doctor is so much more alien.  He just doesn’t have the people skills as some of the previous Doctors, and I’m really enjoying it.  Between the mean comments (that are true more often than not) and his attitude it general I just love him.  Moving on…

Clara returns to her date to apologize in her own little way, then things go back to awkward, then angry.  Then away we go to the TARDIS.  The Doctor couldn’t stay and wait 5 minutes for Clara, so he comes back with a Danny look-alike.  Then to the end of the universe, some more insults and back to the creep factor.  Not being able to see the villain is much worse that seeing them, don’t you think?  The look on Clara’s face when she receives confirmation of who Orson is – fantastic.

Okay, so we’re going to hang out for a night to see what happens in the dark.  While we wait, we’ll talk about Clara’s dating life, but that doesn’t take very long.  Company arrives quickly, and Capaldi gets to make all kinds of funny faces while he acts.  Clara does a believable job of looking afraid, while 12 just looks a little insane.  Unlocking the door doesn’t help, and neither does yelling at Clara.  You can see it hurt her feelings, so she calls him a name to try and hide it.  We have barely a hint of what happens outside the TARDIS before Orson has to go and save the Doctor.

While he’s out, Clara decides she should try to fly the TARDIS.  Of course the screen can’t be working, so Clara decides to just open up the door and go out.  What does she find but a crying child.  It seems as though we’ve found a Time Lord, and it must be our Time Lord.  It seems Clara has started all of the bad dreams all along.  There was never anything there, just like in real life.  Clara has been very good to the Doctor.  She gave him the speech from the 50th (see the tie-in for the barn), and the adrenaline speech and the ability to accept himself.

“What if the big, bad Time Lord just doesn’t want to admit he’s afraid of the dark?”

When we see her at the end of the episode, she’s fixing things up with her new boyfriend… Rupert.

In cast you didn’t know, “Fear makes companions of us all” was actually a 1st Doctor quote.  I just thought I’d point that out before moving on.

This was definitely a Clara-centric episode.  The Doctor was just there for some comic relief and some speeches.  I kind of like what was done with the whole Clara/Danny thing, but there was one thing that really bothered me.  When we first met Rupert, there’s was something hanging out under his blanket.  So what was it?

As much as I wanted to love this episode, and did in some ways, there were just enough things that bothered me about it for me to say it wasn’t as good as the rest of the season.  It had quite a bit of potential, but it just wasn’t where I wanted it to be.  Opinions?

Deep Breath Review

I shouldn’t have to say watch the episode first.  If you’re reading something called Deep Breath Review and you haven’t watched the episode yet, I think you brought that on yourself. Fair?

Overall, I feel like the episode basically amounted to: The young flirty Doctor is gone, the older darker Doctor is here.  He’s the same character, but a different man.  The dynamic will be different.  Accept it, because the fan base is built up enough to withstand the shock.  It’s a return to the pre-2005 era, and I for one love that idea.

I also felt that the premier allowed Clara to shine, and Jenna Coleman to finally do something with her role.  Up until now she’s been just kind of there, and flirting.  This gave her a chance to start interacting with other characters and show a little depth.  Up until this point I haven’t been able to get attached to her because she was just window dressing, but now she’s more engaging.  Hopefully we’ll continue to see character development for her.

All right, to the episode itself!

Before the opening sequence, we’re treated to a dinosaur in Victorian London, the appearance of the TARDIS and the return of the Paternoster Gang (Jenna, Vastra, Strax).  There is something obviously wrong with Doctor, as he can’t tell Clara from Strax, can’t remember the Gang properly (the green one and the not green one) and calls Clara “the not me one, the asking questions one” then mistakes her for Handles (remember the cyberman head from 11’s last episode?) before passing out.  The regeneration needed to be addressed, and this was a good start.  It was also a nice way to let Capaldi be a little wacky right away without it being for no reason.

We have a new opening sequence, which is to be expected.  I’ve heard it was fan inspired, which is great.  I’m not sure if I like it, but I do, if that makes any sense at all.

12’s bedroom rant scene was fabulous!  “Don’t look in that mirror, it’s absolutely furious!”  It’s the first time you really notice his Scottish accent, and I love that they addressed it.  Vastra knows just how to handle him, which I feel is somehow fitting, but I could do with a little subtler man-bashing.  Yes, I get that Jenny and Vastra are married.  Yes, I get that they don’t care for men.  I don’t need to pointed out every 3 seconds.  This particular scene I found funny, but it was the first of many, which was taken a little too far.  Some people have already pointed out that they found it excessive, though I could easily let that go.

The Doctor translating for the dinosaur was a nice touch.  It was a nice setup for later.

The veil scene with Vastra was quite useful.  It proved that Clara was being judgemental, no matter what she was projecting to others and no matter what she thought herself.  After all, the veil was only there as long as Clara could see it.  Vastra reminded everyone (including the fans) that the Doctor was very old, that he had a young body to be accepted, and that the time for flirting is over.  She made Clara realize that the old Doctor isn’t coming back.  Seeing Clara angry/indignant was something we seldom see, and I rather enjoyed it.

12 promises the dinosaur he would keep it safe and get it home.  Seconds later, it bursts into flames.  It drove home the fact that innocents get caught up with the Doctor, and get hurt or killed despite his best intentions.  He does show remorse, so he’s not entirely different.

The interaction between Clara and Strax allowed for some much needed comic relief.  Sometimes Strax can be a bit much for some people, but personally I really like him.

Did you know that the homeless man that 12 is interacting with is actually Brian Miller?  That may not mean much to you, until you realize he was the husband of the late Elisabeth Sladen.  The alley scene allows 12 to give a little head nod to the 4th Doctor (the long scarf) and by extension Sladen herself.  It also gives him an opportunity to address the fact that we’ve seen him in Who before.  Did anyone else pick up the similarities between his comments on his eyebrows and the Scottish independence talk?

More comic relief, though I must say that Jenny posing made her look fabulous!  A little chit chat about the villainous plot that’s afoot, then Clara must decipher the code in the newspaper.  Meeting the Doctor for lunch she discovers him wearing the homeless man’s jacket and smelling like it.  Some banter here makes me love the new arrangement, and I love that it doesn’t stop once they realize it’s a trap.  Of course, each figured out the other didn’t write the ad while they were calling each other names… The ‘banter’ continues once they’re trapped and need to use the sonic to escape (“it’s times like this I miss Amy”) but then things get darker.

In another reminder that this isn’t the Doctor we know, he abandons Clara in the room with the captain.  He wouldn’t leave his screwdriver for fear he might need it.  So here she is with her life in danger, with no hope and just a memory of being asked how long she can hold her breath.  It would only be a matter of time before she would fail, and I think this was handled beautifully.  I found myself unconsciously trying to hold my breath along with her, and willing her to be able to keep going, even though I knew she wouldn’t last.  Once captured, the hope was there that the Doctor would rescue her, but it was never for certain.  Drawing on strength from her previous experiences let the audience further connect with her, and the edge in the scene was something we haven’t seen for a long time.  It was wonderful.  Clara held her own, and we needed to see that.

Of course, the Doctor still has to save the day, since that’s what he does.  A little more comic relief (“I had being wrong in public, everybody forget that happened”) along with a realization that something’s not right with the paper before the cavalry arrives.  This is where things get interesting.  First, the Doctor telling the captain he’ll probably be killing him and pouring two drinks.  How often have we seen the Doctor drink the hard stuff?  Next, seeing this ship (the SS Marie Antoinette) is the sister ship of the Madame Do Pompadour, and the Doctor not being able to place it.  Guess these droids are more familiar than we thought.  After that, the gang below holding their breath.  When Strax can’t do it any longer, he turns the gun towards himself to avoid betraying his friends.  Despite his value for comic relief, he obviously loves the group and is fiercely loyal.

By the way, I just need to say that the balloon made of flesh was nicely disturbing…

Lastly, the demise of the captain.  Did the Doctor do it or did he just manipulate him into killing himself?  Does it really matter?  Isn’t it really the same thing?

We get to see a new TARDIS and the Doctor’s new clothes, have 12 admit that he previously thought he was Clara’s boyfriend but no longer does, and have Clara decide to leave.  You can just see the disappointment in 12’s face even though he knows what comes next, but then… the call.  Oh, the call!  I have to admit that I knew this was coming, which spoiled it a bit for me.  As it was, I teared up and kept it in, but if it had been a surprise I don’t think I could have done it.  The second viewing was even worse, and I had to walk away from it mid-call for a couple minutes… a couple of times.  It made 11’s regeneration so much better, and I know it was directed at the fans to tell them to give Capaldi a chance (especially those who haven’t experienced an older Doctor yet).  I’d already embraced Capaldi, but it was still very nice to see 11 one last time.

You can actually see the moment when Clara sees through the 12th Doctor’s old face and sees the 11th Doctor in him.  The moment when she realizes he’s the same man, and the moment when he knows she can see him.  The hug made me laugh, since he had no idea what to do with his hands, and I think we needed a laugh right then.

Okay, deep breath (ha, see what I did there?).  One more thing before I’m done.  There’s all kinds of speculation about Missy.  The fact that she seems familiar with him says she’s seen him before, and I just want to point out that the layout of the courtyard appears suspiciously like a TARDIS control room.

This is WAY longer than I’d planned, and I’ve left out a lot of things.  So, feel free to comment with your thoughts.  I want to hear them all!

And I don’t know about you, but I can’t WAIT for the next episode!

Review Of Deep Breath

From Doctor Who TV, a spoiler free review of Deep Breath

Note: While this review refrains from mentioning plot specifics, read on at your discretion.

Eight months after we saw Peter Capaldi question the colour of his kidneys, Deep Breath is almost upon us (just 24 hours to be precise). We’ll waste no time with fancy introductions and cut straight to the chase: yes, we can confidently now proclaim that Capaldi is definitely the Doctor. But this is assuredly a new, volatile and more dangerous Time Lord. Capaldi is riveting to watch from the word go.

The Doctor starts the episode in a typical post-regenerative fashion as he stumbles out of the TARDIS in a barmy scene that echoes The Christmas Invasion. Yes, for the first third of the episode it’s fair to say the Doctor has lost his marbles a tad! This leads him on a journey of self-discovery involving a lonely T-rex, horses and the homeless (a hilarious moment featuring a nice cameo). It’s not until the mid-point and Steven Moffat’s publicised ‘dining scene’ where the episode and Capaldi really start to come into their own.

Comparisons to previous Doctors are inevitable. It’s easy to see shades of classic Doctors like Hartnell, Pertwee, and the Bakers (yes both of them, and the latter in a good way) but Capaldi is definitely his own Doctor and shows as much range as a seasoned actor should. Much has been made of his incarnation being ‘darker’ and by the conclusion and one sure-to-be-debated scene you definitely feel he is not a Time Lord to be trifled with. Yet there’s still a warmer, more vulnerable side, it’s just more hidden and harder to access than it was before. There’s also a decent amount of humour, most of it coming from the Doctor and Clara’s bickering!

It would be premature to say you feel you have an exact handle on Capaldi’s Doctor by the end of Deep Breath, but that’s part of the fun. There’s still plenty to be learnt about Capaldi and it is definitely going to be a very interesting journey to see how he develops over the course of the series.

Of course as much as the episode is about Capaldi’s Doctor, there’s a strong focus on Clara and how she is reacting to the mad man in the box she thought she once knew. There’s a portion of fans that won’t quite feel comfortable with this new person claiming to be the Doctor and Moffat knows this all to well and projects this on to Clara. It means we get to see Jenna Coleman go through a wide range of emotions and she pulls it all off with aplomb. It’s no Moffat lie to say Capaldi brings out some of the best in Clara we’ve seen. Other standout scenes include one where Clara enters a verbal joust with Madame Vastra and another when she’s placed in a particularly deadly monster confrontation.

Speaking of the monsters, the darker nature extends to these too. While Doctor Who is still obviously a family show for BBC One and violence can’t be dwelled on, there are some grotesque themes here that are far from ‘family’ (which could explain the slightly later timeslot). Guest star Peter Ferdinando plays the lead villain, the Half-Face ‘Man’, and he is a creepy counter to Capaldi. The best thing is that the villains actually feel a bit more threatening and are given more screen time.

Series 7 was criticised for having some pacing issues. Some stories moved along so fast there was little time to breathe and endings could feel rushed. Thankfully, Deep Breath’s extended run time obviously affords more time for quieter moments and character development. It remains to be seen how subsequent episodes will hold up with the regular 45-ish-minute slots. Why can’t Doctor Who have at least an hour every week?

Bringing acclaimed film director Ben Wheatley (Kill List, Sightseers, A Field in England) on board was a wise move. He gives the episode some very unique and striking visual shots. There’s an eerie, unsettling atmosphere running throughout this version of Victorian London. The direction is complemented by Murray Gold’s score. While pieces like Clara’s Theme are present and correct, there are several new arrangements. At this stage it’s hard to tell if any of the newer tracks will develop into Capaldi’s own theme.

For all the praise, Deep Breath isn’t perfect. The first third feels a little mixed in terms of tone and perhaps it takes more time than necessary for the central plot to kick in. But this is very much a character episode so that’s probably understandable. Other issues will probably come down to your tolerance of the Paternoster gang. If you’ve grown tired of Strax’s comic antics there is little to change your mind here. He feels a bit out of place with the tone of the episode, but is largely kept to side scenes. Jenny and Vastra get more screen time and are far more tolerable, but again it’s hard not to feel that they all should have been confined to Matt Smith’s era.

To conclude, while it’s a strong opener, it’s not quite as accomplished as Steven Moffat’s previous Doctor debut, The Eleventh Hour. But coming second to that is little to complain about. Deep Breath leaves fans wanting to see plenty more of Capaldi, and that’s the most important part.

8/10

TARDIS Plaque

I’m back after a rough few days.  Now I’m back… kind of.  I have a lot going on and need to get caught up before returning to my regular job, but I’ll try to post in between tasks.

For now, here’s something cool from Rubbertoe Replicas:

TARDIS Plaque

You can read a review of this item HERE