Thursday, November 26, 2015

Face the Raven - the discussion

Sarah Dollard - beautiful writing.  Face the Raven was a wonderful episode filled with mystery, familiar friends and foes, bravery, and of course, love.  Even without its significance, it was a good episode.  With the significance, it did not disappoint.

Let’s start at the beginning.  As a viewer, I knew something heart wrenching was coming and felt apprehensive even before the episode started.  It was wonderful seeing Clara and the Doctor so happy and carefree at the top of the episode.  That last moment of joy and seeing again that they are the best companions for each other.

I was so happy that they brought back Rigsy.  He was a great character and someone I’d like to see as the Doctor’s companion.  We didn’t get to see him interact much with the Doctor last time, but this time you could feel the instant chemistry.  Of course, now that he has a wife and kid, the hopes of him being a companion are gone, but it was sweet seeing a bit of his new home life.  I also loved his tribute to Clara at the end, using his artistic skills that we knew about from before.

The mystery itself struck the right balance of being intriguing enough to draw you in without overpowering the main point of the story.  Memory loss, apparent murder, a secret world, multiple aliens, deception, and a ticking clock - what more could you want?  The more I see of Ashildir, the more I dislike her (in a good way).  I guess it shows what being immortal and living too long alone can do to you.  It’s like the Doctor if he didn’t have companions to keep him in check.  What’s interesting is that Captain Jack never seemed to have too much of a problem remaining a “good guy,” but maybe he hasn’t lived long enough yet.

Now for the big moment.  For me, the best, most emotional moment wasn’t the actual death but the last moments Clara and the Doctor had together, underscored by the brilliant music of Murray Gold.  The Doctor’s reaction to finding out that her end was coming.  Clara’s knowing that the Doctor will overreact and her determination to save him even when she’s gone.  And of course, their sweet goodbye, each expressing their love and gratitude without having to say it, each being as brave as they could be.  Watching it a second time, I still cried when the Doctor asked her to stay with him.  Then Clara’s last steps, seeing her fear but willing herself to be brave as she faced the raven.  It’s how we all hope we can react when facing fear.

It was a touching end fitting of a wonderful companion.  Regardless of Clara’s ultimate ultimate fate in Doctor Who (speculate all you want for the next couple of weeks), this episode did her justice.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Sleep No More - discussion the same night

Sleep No More - our first and one of only two self-contained episodes this series.  Hmm.  After the epic Zygon two parter, a single episode was what I wanted.  I'm not sure Sleep No More was the right single episode for me, though.

I am a fan of Mark Gatiss, the actor and the writer.  I thought his Robot of Sherwood last series was delightful and had the perfect tone after Deep Breath and Into the Dalek.  The premise of Sleep No More was interesting, as was the found footage format.  Both had potential, but I felt they didn't reach it.

It felt like there was a lot of running around that didn't help bring depth to the story.  I never felt connected to anything in the episode.  The found footage format and the different camera angles, especially upon the realization that they weren't helmet cams, could have been scarier.  I wanted it to be scarier.  Maybe that was as far as they could push it to keep it family-friendly?  I also became confused when we saw things from the point of view of Chopra after the Doctor said his POV was the only one we didn't have because he had refused to use Morpheus.  Or did I miss something?

The sandmen monsters weren't scary either - psychologically or physically.  I think I understand that the point of the film was to get us to watch it to perpetuate the monsters, so the story in the film doesn't really matter in a way.  But in reality, it's still a TV show, so we do need to be interested and feel some fear when we find out that by watching it, we have allowed the monsters to spread.

I did like the "twist" in the end.  A little bit "The Ring-like."  But I wanted the whole episode to have the intrigue of the end, taken a step further.  Reece Shearsmith was also good casting.  Immediately he set the tone of something off and made me feel uneasy, but I didn't know exactly why, yet.

Apologies if my comments were difficult to understand.  I find it difficult articulating things that don't sit well with me.  Overall, this episode had elements that could have been brilliant (mysterious circumstance and monsters, a creepy not-what-he-seems baddie, and found footage format) but they missed the mark for me.

And then next week . . .

Sunday, November 8, 2015

The Zygon Invasion / The Zygon Inversion - discussion the day after

My favorite episodes so far this season!  As I've mentioned before, I'm a big fan of the Doctor's big fan, Osgood.  She was my favorite from the 50th anniversary.  I was heartbroken when she died.  And thrilled when I saw her in the series 9 trailers.  I had been waiting for these two episodes all series, and they did not disappoint.  Here are just some of the things that made The Zygon Invasion and The Zygon Inversion so great:

The Doctor-Clara Relationship
I've been going on and on about how much I love the development of the Doctor and Clara's relationship.  They've moved to yet another level with this two parter.  The Doctor usually falls into battle situations while with his companions and they work together to avoid war.  I've always assumed that if the Doctor ran across a situation while the companion wasn't there, he'd take care of it himself.  It was great to see that in this crisis, while the Doctor was presented with the crumbling of the ceasefire, the Doctor actively reached out to Clara, asking for her help.  Just shows again that he needs her as much as she needs him.  Isn't that what we all want?

We also saw a bit of what he'd be like upon her death.  It really is heartbreaking, and I will probably cry when the time comes at the end of this series.  Not just because we're losing my favorite companion but also because of how it will hit the Doctor.  Maybe this preview was a way to help soften the blow later on.

Peter Capaldi's Brilliance
Part of why the Doctor-Clara relationship is so compelling and the impending end so devastating is because of Peter Capaldi's brilliant acting.  He is incredible at getting us to feel everything the Doctor feels.  His monologues have such depth, and his long monologue in the Inversion takes the cake.  He should be the peace envoy to everything.  And everyone in the world should be a Whovian.  The world would be a much better place.  Forgiveness.

Jenna Coleman as a Baddie
I can't wait to see Jenna Coleman play a baddie in future projects.  It was great to see a different side of her acting abilities in these episodes.  Everyone knows Doctor Who is great for actors because they get to be in different genres of stories pretty much every week, but Jenna Coleman has also had the opportunity to play more characters than probably anyone in Doctor Who history.  All of her characters have been the altruistic hero until Bonnie.  Who would've thought that sweet innocent face could be so intimidating?  And even better was seeing the guns-blazing hell-bent evil dictator maturing and having the change of heart, all in one episode.  Credit to the great team effort by Jenna and the writers.

Storytelling Marvels
Everything about the storytelling in these two episodes worked, especially the writing, editing, and sound.  The openings of the episodes immediately drew you in.  The use of the Osgoods and their videos.  There was just the right amount of deception and foreshadowing.  My favorite bit was something so small but carried so much weight - the sound of the text message being sent to the Doctor.  That entire sequence of Clara forcing Bonnie to text without her knowledge was amazing, but the best part of that sequence was how they cut away visually and the swoop of the text is all we need to know that everything would turn out alright.

Concept of Osgood
Why do I love Osgood so much?  It's hard to pin down.  Of course she's fun and clever.  From the 50th, she represented good - the person you could trust that would do the right thing, like not revealing who was human or zygon even though she knew.  Steven Moffat has talked about her representing us, the fans.  She's not only a fan but the fan that has become the Doctor's friend and been asked to join him in the TARDIS.  After this last episode, she's also just Osgood.  No species or labels.  Who she is, is more than good enough.  We don't need to know "what" she is.  People will always want to categorize you, but as Osgood would say, "I'm me."