Star Who? 6 – Doomsday Machine Caretaker of Marinus

Right, another Wednesday, another blog about Doctor Who and Star Trek.

Doctor Who 2005 S08E06 – The Caretaker 3/5

Well, readers from last blog will recall my dread for this one. It might of been low expectations or pure dread, but it wasn’t as bad as I feared. It was far from great. This one focuses on Clara and her boyfriend, with the Doctor getting mixed up with them due to having to go undercover in the school that they both work in due to an alien threat. It’s genuinely funny, mostly due to Capaldi being a dick as the Doctor. Which is also a little bit of a problem since the line between him being teasing or flat out mean to Clara is getting a little blurry. At least this one didn’t sink into total romance garbage like I feared it might, so I guess I’ll keep watching.

Star Trek S02E06 – The Doomsday Machine 4/5

This one was another great one. The enterprise stumbles upon another federation ship, the USS Constellation, all shot to hell. Upon investigating, they discover only the Captain alive, and the cause is a planet destroying machine that is of course, on line to hit a populated galaxy. So there’s a lot going on, with the first third being a bit of a mystery as they figure things out, and the last two thirds being all action with Kirk and gang dealing both with the mad Captain survivor and trying to figure out how to stop the Doomsday Machine. About the only thing missing from this one is the over-moralizing and social commentary that usually is brewing with Trek, but it’s not really missed since this one doesn’t muck around and just drives forward. Great stuff, and well worth a watch.

Weird brain aliens!

Doctor Who S01E05 – The Keys of Marinus (6 episodes) 2/5

This one features the Doctor and companions arriving on a planet that has an acid lake and a glass beach. Weird eh? Anyway, ends up a bunch of strife is happening, and the Doctor is forced to retrieve the titled keys in order to free a cosmic consciousness that will prevent the baddies from taking over. The keys are hidden throughout the planet so the Doctor and group have to use pre-set “Time Dials” (watches) to travel about, which is kind of cool. As a result, each episode of the arc is a kind of a mini-story, from primitive action to court room drama. Which is neat. The problem with this though is that it’s so episodic that it doesn’t really gel narrative wise. Hell, the Doctor vanishes for two of the episodes, supposedly so Hartnell could go on vacation. So once again you get a story arc that revolves around Ian as much as anyone. Susan, the Doctor’s granddaughter. Remember her? She’s still around but barely does anything plot wise to keep things moving other than panic and make a lot of noise. Which is a shame since you would think they would at least try to incorporate her more into the episodes. Anyway, not the worst episode ever, but not a particularly remarkable one either.

And with this one I’m going to end Star Who. I have fun writing them, but I also realize that I’m partaking in a form of blogging that I hate to read myself. The episode recap. I skip by them on every site that posts them, so why am I doing the same thing? Really, my favourite part of Star Who is the blog titles that sound like terrible prog-rock albums.

So if you enjoyed this side blog, thank you and I appreciate it. I’ll keep going with my movie a day blog until the end of the year, and as I finish seasons of Doctor Who and Star Trek, I will post them there.

The End




Star Who? 5 – Time Apple Polo

We just had a long weekend so I nearly forgot to post this since I was thinking it was Tuesday instead of Wednesday. A real life time paradox, fitting of this stupid blog! Too bad the new Doctor Who was a bit shit…

Doctor Who 2005 S08E05 – Time Heist 2/5

I love a good heist movie. Even the bad ones I tend to at least like. So why did I find this one a bit crap? The Doctor and a team have to break into the universes most secure bank, and there’s a weird memory wipe bit so you’re discovering the reasons along with the Doctor. There’s lot to love. It just completely falls flat. I’m going to blame production. The design and everything is fine, the plot is a bit dodgy in execution, but what really bugged me was the look. I know it’s a cheap show, that’s not the problem. Well, it’s partly the problem. They attempted to make this episode “cool”, with slow motion bits to a “James Bond” style score. When the score is cheap synth music, the whole thing looks like it is trying too hard to be something it’s not and just falls apart. So many shows these days rely on a score that just undermines the whole thing. See CASTLE as an example. If they scrapped the score and the slo-mo, hip “Oceans 11” style stuff, it could of been great.


Star Trek S02 E05 – The Apple 3/5

Kirk and landing party are exploring a planet that appears to be not unlike biblical Eden except the flowers spit poison darts into your chest and the rocks explode like bombs. Just like Eden! They encounter a naive, never aging populace that survives via worship of a God personified by a giant mountain idol. So this is another one of those mystical Star Trek’s that seems to be pro-Christian living and freedom while shitting all over the idea of organized religion. It’s kind of bold stuff when you think it’s 1967 primetime TV, especially with Spock’s concerns that Kirk is the “Apple” of Eden, giving knowledge to the people who will be corrupted by it. It ends up being a pretty good episode, with the “God” putting a big whammy that threatens to destroy the Enterprise. Kirk claims a crew of just under 500 people if I recall correctly, seems small for a ship that size right? 400 of the crew must be janitors. Which reminds me, where’s the Star Trek show dealing with the janitors and people who are on the ship to earn a paycheck? I still think that would be a great Star Trek show! Someone make it happen. In the end, another solid Star Trek episode.

Doctor Who S01E04 – Marco Polo 3/5 (Seven Parts)

This one is a tough one to review since it’s the first “lost’ episode. At some point, the BBC decided it wasn’t worth keeping old shows, so they wiped their tapes. At this point in time, no video elements of this story arc are known to exist. The version I watched is a fan made restoration using still photos and the surviving audio elements. So it’s tricky to give this one a fair shake since it’s basically a two and half hour slide show. That said, plot and story wise, it’s a good one. This would be the first historical episode, and it has an educational feel to it that is a bit awkward. Was Doctor Who designed to be “Carmen Sandiego” style educational show? Anyway, after fixing the faulty switch from the last serial, the Doctor gets Ian and Barbara back to earth, only the early twelve hundreds where Marco Polo see’s being able to use the Doctor’s caravan (TARDIS) as a gift to Kublai Khan so as to get out of some obligation he has. There’s lots of intrigue, the Doctor himself is even more unlikable than before, and it’s pretty clear that the show should be called “The Adventures of Ian” at this point since he seems to be the real drive of these adventures and is constantly explaining and figuring out the plot points. It’s a shame this one is lost since based on the photos, the production design was a step up. In the end, if you can tolerate power point episodes, this one (probably) isn’t the worst you can do if you’re obsessively trying to watch the entire series.

So there we are. The first crap episode of the new Doctor Who. the preview for episode 6 showed the Doctor becoming a janitor at Cara’s school so he can keep an eye on her romantic interest. So the series might be heading strait to the shitter and become completely unwatchable. So next week should be interesting!

Star Who? – Listen to the Mirror Of Destruction

Another blog! Three days in a row. You didn’t think I would forget about poor old Doctor Who due to the horror challenge did you?  This one features a great episode so let’s get to it.

Doctor Who (2005) S08E04 – Listen 4/5

Another really strong episode. This one practically goes full horror, with the Doctor wondering what would happen if there was a being that only existed to hide, what would it do? Some genuinely spooky bits, it works really well. There is also some insight into both the Doctor’s past and future that I’m trying not to think too hard on since I don’t think it fits. I seem to think that Gallifrey, the Doctors home planet, was a bit more cosmic than the English farm setting they showed here. Maybe it was ret-conned? Future Doctor Who looks bad-ass, I want to see more of that. The nit-pick on this one is once again the assistance of the dumb and unnecessary romance angle for the companion. I have a feeling that the previous two Doctor’s stories relied heavily on the companions wanting to fuck the Doctor, so they are trying to create a new boyfriend for Clara. It’s dumb, but to this episodes credit, and the only reason I’m not knocking it down, is that the whole thing relies on the romance bit. It’s going to get really corny if they keep trying to shoehorn this dating stuff in every week though. If they want to do “Sex In The City” with Clara, then give Clara her own show. Sex in the TARDIS!

Star Trek S02E04 – Mirror, Mirror 4/5

This one is a classic episode, one of those episodes that leech out of pop culture into popular culture. It’s the one with “Evil Spock”, identified via his goatee. See, you’ve heard of this one! They also get fancier uniforms that incorporate a gold sash. It’s a great episode too. Due to a magnetic disturbance while beaming up from a planet, the landing crew of Kirk, Uhura, Bones and Scotty are swapped with those of a parallel dimension where instead of peaceful explorers, they’re raging asshole pirates. Everyone on the evil Enterprise seems hellbent on assassinating each other in an attempt to become Captain. It makes for lots of fun bits, and the the evil Enterprise really is a hellish place so it actually makes it tense to watch Kirk and crew navigate the violence and politics while trying to figure out not just what the hell is happening, but how to get back to they’re own dimension. It’s trippy good, and well worth a watch regardless of your Trek fandom.

Doctor Who S01E03 – The Edge of Destruction 2/5 (2 Parts)

This one was a bit flat. A small explosion from the TARDIS control panel knocks everyone out. When they come too, they are all acting a bit odd, and as they get more suspicious of each other, the more violent they get. The Doctor is full on asshole in this one and thank goodness it’s a short one since it was dull as dishwasher despite sounding like a cool one. They never leave the TARDIS, so this should make it suspenseful. Maybe I was having a bad night, but my brain kept wandering and I kept having to back it up to figure out what was going on. I was glad it ended, since it was constantly a confused mess. So confused that I had to read the wiki blurb on it to re-familiar myself with it since I’m writing this the day after. There was one neat bit though, you get an inkling during the episode that the TARDIS might be self aware. Which is important, maybe. I know the Baker Doctor was always talking to the TARDIS, so maybe this is why? Anyway, a switch is labeled with a sharpie for maximum cheapness so that’s a good point to end on a positive. The next episode should be better.

See? The best so far new Doctor Who, A really good Star Trek and a shitty old Who with a sharpie label. This blog is awesome.


The End

Star Who? – Changeling Mutants of Sherwood

It’s Wednesday so you know what that means, it’s time for me to beak off about Doctor Who and Star Trek! We got three good episode on this blog, so let’s not waste anytime.

Doctor Who (2005) S08E03 – Robot of Sherwood 3.5/5

As you can tell by the title, this one features the Doctor meeting up with Robin Hood after he asks his companion Clara who she would like to meet in history. So it’s a lighthearted episode as opposed to a heavy one. It also totally works, with the Doctor wanting nothing to do with Robin and his merry band of happy assholes, and being none too polite about it. It’s a bit goofy, but there are plenty of genuine laughs to be found, and Capaldi completely nails his performance as the Doctor. It’s also completely bonkers in plot which helps to sell it all too. So new Doctor Who continues to be a blast! Hooray for Doctor Who with an old guy as a the Doctor!

Star Trek S02E03 – The Changeling 3.5/5

One look at Spock’s pissed off face above and you know what this one is all about. The Enterprise encounters a weird object in space that ends up being the lost probe pictured above. The probe, named “NOMAD”, has gone bonkers so instead of gathering data, it’s sterilizing planets based on finding every living organic thing “imperfect”. It goes full asshole once on board, brain wiping Uhura and flat out killing Scotty. The only person it listens to is Kirk, and that’s only because it’s dumb programming is confusing him with the similarly named scientist that created him. The episode is a hell of a lot of fun, and the dopey NOMAD ends up being a pretty good villain in the end. The resolution is pretty clever too, and ramps up the tension to keep you interested.

Doctor Who S01E02 The Mutants (7 parts) 4/5

Most people will know this one as THE DALEKS, since it introduces the Doctors greatest foes in a seven part epic. SEVEN PARTS for the second storyline! That’s pretty confident stuff! The episode is pretty great. The Doctor is still a moany old asshole, he fakes a TARDIS problem in order to get his own way and people end up getting killed for it. No big shakes for Hartnell though, fuck ’em, he’s got to see the Dalek city! This type of moral indifference will vanish over the years and other Doctors. Part of the fun in watching these old ones is seeing them work out the kinks in the characters and dynamics. Anyway, basic plot is after the last episode, instead of returning Ian and Barbara to their London, he fucks them off to a strange planet. This is the first hint we get that the Doctor either has no idea what he is doing, the TARDIS is broken, or he’s a massive prick. It’s never properly explained in this story. Everything on the planet is petrified, and it ends up that there was a massive, 500 year war in which neutron bombs were used. Two surviving people were left. The Daleks who took refuge into robot bodies in their city to survive the radiation, and the Dalek described “mutants” that are basically Hitlers aryan dream living in the forest since they figured out a pill to prevent radiation sickness. I was sure I had seen this episode before, but I didn’t remember any of it, so it should be fun to see how they explain how the Daleks are such a universal terror since these beginnings don’t fit in at all with what happens years later in “Genesis of the Daleks.” Also, I believe it was part six that had a scene where Barbara has to jump across a ledge and manages to bust off a part of the cheap shitty set. As a fan, I live for the cheapnis of these, so that was fun! The Doctor and his gang are in near constant peril throughout, so it all adds up to a really good episode and you can see how people went crazy over it back in 1963.

Not bad right? I told you they were three good ones. It’s weird watching these. The old Doctor Who is shot in flickery old black and white video, the Star Trek I’m watching is off the newish blu-rays with enhanced 5.1 audio and effects, which means it looks and sounds better than brand new Doctor Who. Not to say that the production value of new Who is poor, it’s one of the better shows on television for the most part. It’s just odd watching these all at the same time is all.

Well that’s enough for this week. Comments and suggestions always welcome!

The End


Star Who? – 100,000 Inside Adonais

It’s Wednesday which means it’s time to geek out on my blog! Since this is the second Wednesday I was able to post a Star Who?, it seems this will be the series schedule! Let’s see how many weeks I can manage before I screw it up. Since last week, Mr. Monkey informed me on some recent happening regarding the Doctor Who reboot regarding his regenerations and how they’ve reset it so he has 13 new ones. It’s kind of put me off since it means we wont have some grand wrap up to 50 plus years of stories. The greedy bastards! Of course, they could continue on with a new time lord, or pass the TARDIS to Susan, the Doctors granddaughter. I still think a girl Doctor would be cool, and you could see her dealing with things that the current Doctor has bungled in his career. Lots of possibilities lost now that they retconned it. Anyway, it got me wondering to what happened with old Susan… so let’s look at the shows this week (from 4 weeks ago, potential spoilers ahead).

Doctor Who (2005) S08E02 – Inside The Dalek 4/5

I was looking forward to this one since it’s the first, baggage free episode for the new Doctor, and it has Daleks in it, so really, what more do you want from Doctor Who? NOTHING MORE! It was great. Capaldi is completely nailing the Doctor in a way that hearkens back to classic Doctor Who while still putting his own mark on the character. I hope he ends up being the Doctor for the next twenty years. The episode felt classic, too. There was action and what not, but the main drive of the story was exploring the morality of the Doctor’s relationship with the Daleks, which is good? Which is bad? Can a Dalek, the most evil force in the universe, be good? Classic Who. My only nit pick is that the producers seem obsessed with having some kind of horseshit romantic angle shoe-horned into the series. I’m guessing this is a hold over from the previous series, and I can give no shits nor fucks about a romantic side plot for the companions. Doctor Who has never needed sexual tension to be good. I’m hoping they abandon it.

Star Trek S02E02 – Who Mourns For Adonais? 3/5

This is one of those goofy episodes. The Enterprise literally gets held by a giant hand in space reaching out from a planet. They beam down, and discover that the god Apollo is holding them hostage, he’s in need of people to worship him after Earths people had abandoned him and the rest of the old gods. Apollo takes fancy to Lieutenant Carolyn Palamas who returns the favour, and poor Scotty takes I think three shit kickings trying to protect her honour. It should be incredibly stupid, but it actually really works. Aside for the goofy plot there is a lot of side exploring about the nature of faith, the basis of religion, and other philosophical things that makes Star Trek so interesting. Hell, the theory that maybe Apollo is an alien that visited earth as one of the Greek gods is pretty much the basis of about a thousand episodes of that bullshit Ancient Aliens TV show. Neil Gaiman will later on explore similar territory of old gods losing power as people stop worshiping them in his book AMERICAN GODS, I wonder if he saw this episode? Is he a Trekkie? Anyway, this is another episode that sounds stupid on paper but ended up being pretty good.

Doctor Who S01E01-04 100,000 BC (An Unearthly Child) 3/5

That’s right, we’re going deep! All that talk last blog of the old Who got me wanting to watch some classic Who, so I’m starting at the beginning! This is the debut story and it is weird to see now. This introduces William Hartnell as the first Doctor, and I forgot what a moany asshole he was. Maybe he gets more likable as the series goes on, but in this one he’s a cantankerous jerk. That aside, the template for all future episodes is solidly in place. The TARDIS is set up, the companions being the viewers eyes to identify with the weirdness going on, it’s all there except for one strange, major plot point. The plot is basically about a couple of school teachers, Ian and Barbara being worried about their student Susan Foreman so they go to talk to her parents at her home. They arrive at a junkyard and see the Police Call Box and it’s from there that we are introduced to the Doctor as Susan’s GRANDFATHER. I don’t remember any family ever being mentioned with the future Doctors, or how much this relationship is explained in future episodes since it never is in this story. It’s a huge plot point though that could be explored. Does Doctor Who ever stumble upon her in a future episode? Is she a timelord traveling around as well? Wouldn’t it of been cool if the relaunch in 2005 featured her? Anyway, Ian and Barbara think the Doctor is full of shit, so The Doctor gets all “Fuck you!” about it and takes them to the stone age where they get mixed up in a caveman tribal war over the loss of fire. Weird thing is Ian is really the drive of the story since the Doctor is a total prick so it’s Ian pushing the plot forward trying to show peace and friendship to the savage cavemen, with the Barbara and Susan basically just being along for the ride. It’s still not a bad episode though, especially for a debut.

That’s it for this week. Good? Is it just too much gad damned Doctor Who now? What do you need from me to make this better? Anyone?

The End

Star Who? – Amok Breath

I nearly forgot! New blog theme! Watching a Movie A Day is not enough! Due to overwhelming interest of nearly a million responses*, I will be doing a side blog on deep-geek nerd Sci Fi. Let’s get into it!

So it ends up I’ve always been a big Doctor Who fan. I grew up watching the old series on PBS, Sunday at 12:30am after a rotation of Monty Python, Red Dwarf, and Blackadder re-runs. Technically my doctor was Tom Baker since he was the first one I watched (The Talons of Weng-Chiang was the first story) and I got hooked. That said, my favourite Doctor was always the second, Patrick Troughton. So it was with great joy that I looked forward to the re-launch in 2005 with Christopher Eccleston as the Doctor. I loved it! Finally, a Doctor that looked and acted like he was on meth and could kick the shit out of someone if needed! Finally, a Doctor not aping Tom Baker! Sadly, he left after one season, and just seeing the commercials with David Tennant put me off. So I stopped watching. Time and Doctors had moved on, and I had my Doctor Who memories.

It was seeing pictures of the new Season 8 doctor, Peter Capaldi, that piqued my interest in the new Doctor Who. Here was an old guy again, maybe it wouldn’t feel so “Teen Idol” Doctor Who like the previous two new guys appeared to be and go back to being boring old Doctor Who. By miss-reading a blog by the esteemed David Kalat where I thought he was comparing Capaldi to first Doctor William Hartnell, I was sold on watching the new Doctor Who again. Typically I would track watching this show on my Movie A Day blog by the season (which will happen). Since Who is so episodic (well, it used to be anyway, I guess I’ll find out) I thought it might be fun to recap them by the episodes. Come join me in looking at the new Who!

Doctor Who (2005) S08E01 – Deep Breath 3/5

This one starts off in typical fashion when the Doctor regenerates in that the Doctor is a confused, spastic mess of a person. In fact, the first 20 minutes or so of the episode nearly put me off the whole series. This one, I’m guessing, takes up right where the season 7 finale left off, so there’s characters like some Lizard woman and a T-Rex running about Victorian London that had me completely lost. So if you’re coming to the series new like I am, this is a terrible start.

After the first 20 minutes though, things settle down and it gets into the proper plot of the episode (after a rather clumsy, after-thought of a wrap up of the Season 7 plot) and the whole thing gets pretty awesome. Capaldi starts to settle into his performance, and he’s a fucking great Doctor. He is certainly more in the spirit of Hartnell and third Doctor John Pertwee, but he seems to have a more potentially cruel side. The story, discovering strange clockwork men in Victorian, London get’s genuinely spooky and suspenseful. If it wasn’t for the terrible beginning I would give this one 3.5.

So, longtime readers will know that I’ve spent the past bunch of years helping to care for my Dad, who sadly passed away this July. One of the last things we were watching together was Star Trek, the original series. We were going to watch the whole damn thing, but he only made through the first season before going into hospital. Watching Doctor Who this past week niggled my nerd brain to watch more Trek, so as a bonus to my lovely, fawning public, I’M REVIEWING STAR TREK AS WELL!

Star Trek S02E01 – Amok Time 3.5/5

The thing to remember on this one is that it aired in 1967 as the season premier for the second season. So a plot that features Spock suffering from Pon Farr and needing to go back to Vulcan to deal with it seems particularly daring. What’s Pon Farr you ask? Why, it’s a period in a Vulcan man’s life where he gets so horned-out to mate he has fight to the death for his bride or he will die from hormone overload. What an insanely, sexual plot for the  premier! Anyway, the episode is really good, with both clever writing, a cool fight between Kirk and Spock and a neat resolution is given to McCoy. This episode also debuts the character of Chekov, supposedly created as an answer to The Monkees as a way to get teen girls to watch. Let’s not dwell on the negatives (Chekov will always be a negative), as goofy as the plot is, this was a good one.

There it is, the new Star Who? blog. I’ll try to keep the Doctor Who season 8 plots vague and spoiler free like I do with the movies, but I’ll probably get a bit deeper into the Star Trek since it’s fifty years old and you have had many chances to watch the show. Feedback always appreciated.

The End.


*4 responses, 3 for, 1 against… good enough for me!