sawyl: (A self portrait)
The Guardian has an interview with Pearl about her new role in Dr Who...

ETA: ...and another one, this time from New York Comic-Con...
sawyl: (A self portrait)
The BBC's cunning strategy of announcing the identity of the Doctor's new companion during Match of the Day has paid off: my dad, generally more interested in football than SF, phoned with the exciting news that Pearl has got the part!
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Apalapucia. Second destination for the discerning inter-galactic travel. Because No 1 is hideous. It's a set of lift doors. Amy has a twitter feed. Press a button: Sensible Rory picks green. Because what kind of tool picks red. Oh, Amy. That's who. Amy through the magnifying glass: "Time's gone wobbly. I hate it when it does that" Rory can't handle the hand bot. "Where have you been? I've been here a week!" "Two different time streams running parallel but at two different speeds. Amy, you're in a faster time stream!" But Amy's no longer in the Red Waterfall room: "It's never simple!" Infodump: the planet is under quarantine for a plague that kills in a day; the plague only affects two hearted races, so that's the Doctor out of things; Red Waterfall time is compressed; the time glasses sync up the two time streams; the green anchors can watch their loved ones live out their lives in a single day. Rory's right: it's horrible. The Doctor has a plan: hack the time glass and use the TARDIS to break through, while Amy hides in the facility and tries not to get killed by the handbots' incompatible drugs.

"Glasses are cool. Hello Rory cam." The Doctor has stalker gear? Two Streams looks a lot like an empty airport. Clom has a Disneyland? Killing with kindness? Thematic statement! So that's what the handbots keep in their heads. Welcome to Aperture Science. Time to escape through the vents. "Eyes front soldier!" Rory is distracted by the Venus de Milo meanwhile Amy checks out the freaky topiary in the garden. The AI isn't all that smart. But Amy is: she short circuits the handbots and works out a way to hide close to the temporal engines. The Doctor works out how to see everyone. "Are they happy?" "Oh Rory, trust you to think of that!"

Nice job on Karen Gillan's make up. "I think the time stream lock might be a bit wobbly" No kidding. Kendo Amy is hyper-capable and maybe not so keen on the Doctor as Original Amy. And also, seems to have been wearing the same trousers for the last 40 years. Maybe it's something to do with compressed time. "I don't care that you got old. I care that we didn't grow old together" Cast Away. "Survive, because no-one's going to come for you. Number one lesson" The Doctor homes in on the regulator valve. Amy wears the stalker glasses. "They look ridiculous." "That's what I told him. Still anything beats a fez, eh?" Drink! Rory can still make Kendo Amy laugh. Mime work. "Out of then and into the now!" The Doctor has a plan to create two Amy's but Kendo Amy spots the obvious problem: she'll cease to exist if they rescue Original Amy. Rory calls the Doctor on his slapdash attitude to travel.

Original Amy tries to convince Kendo Amy. Recursion. But this time it's different: "I'm going to pull time apart for you!" Kendo Amy wants escape on the TARDIS: "Can that work?" "I dunno. It's your marriage" I'm definitely in the demographic for this episode. Technobable! The though so powerful it can rip through time is the macarena? The echo is a nice touch. Temporal feedback. Original Amy's hockey skills come in handy. Time to route around. Teleports vs time jumps. Rory's discomfort at Amy's flirtation is nicely done. Kendo Amy kicks handbot arse. "Do not be alarmed. This is a kindness" All the worse because the hanbots, unlike the daleks, really think they're helping — they just can't no for an answer.

Original Amy is down for the count. Time to use the Mona Lisa as a weapon. Time to grab the girl and run for the TARDIS. Time to remember Rule 1: the Doctor lies. Hair splitting: is preventing someone's existence the same as killing them? Time for Rory to choose: Kendo Amy understands, because she used to be Original Amy, but she still can't forgive. She knows she's going to fight for her life, so she asks for her chance to escape to be taken away: "Don't let me in. Tell Amy, your Amy, I'm giving her the days. The days with you. The days to come. The days I can't have." And Kendo Amy is gone, as if she never existed. As always, the Doctor dodges the hard questions and leaves Rory to break the news, because although the Amy he betrayed never existed, he's still betrayed her one way or another...
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Stepford in the sky. Old Lady, grim lift, child with night terrors. OCD. "Five times. It has to be five times." Scary shadows. Significant Conversation overheard: "He needs a doctor. Psychic paper. Something tells me I'm a long way out of the target demographic for this one. I wouldn't take the lift if I were you. Going door to door: old lady; psycho slumlord; and, in a nod to The Shining, twins. "Maybe we should let the monsters gobble him up" Rory and his big mouth strike again. The Doctor spots the boy. The Lift of Doom strikes. Told you not to take it.

A house call. Hello Alex. Are the bins possessed? George has always been a funny kid. Eight in January. Foreshadowing? Rory thinks the TARDIS has gone funny again: "The Doctor's back there in Eastenders-land and we're stuck here in the TARDIS..." The Doctor favours the talking cure. The dusty house is made of fake wooden stuff. Amy finds a rather lame lamp and a giant glass eye. "The Three Little Sontarans, the Emperor Dalek's New Clothes..." The Doctor can't solve a Rubik's Cube. All scary things go into the cupboard. Visit from the slumlord breaks the tension. The cupboard readings are off the scale. The dusty house doesn't have a door knob and the hands are painted on the clock.

The Doctor makes tea. And reveals himself to Alex: "You're not from Social Services, are you?" The old lady is on her own in the house. Creepy laughter getting closer to Rory and Amy. Scary Doll is Very Scary. "Should we open the cupboard?" The Doctor argues with himself. "Never anything on is there Bernard? Bergerac? God 'elp us. Thirty years old, that..." The Slumlord's life is empty. And he gets dragged straight to hell. The cupboard is actually just full of junk. The Doctor helps Alex realise the Awful Troof. So who is George? Time for the Doctor and Alex to go to the scary house. Rory panics. A bit. The Scary Dolls turn the slumlord into a Scary Doll. Definitely time to panic.

The Doctor cracks the case: "Either we're trapped inside the doll's house or this is a refuge for dirty posh people who eat wooden food. Or termites. Giant termites. Trying to get on the property ladder..." Perception filter! The Doctor rambles. Amy's lame plan is lame and she reaps the consequences. Five lights: George's fears and rituals are shaping everything. The boy's a cuckoo: the child Alex and Claire wanted. "I can't save you from the monsters. Only you can." U-turn. Confrontation isn't enough: Gorge needs to know he's not being rejected. And with that, we're home from Narnia. Kippers for breakfast? Nasty. And we're done with a creepy nursery rhyme...
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Wheat field. Amy with a map full of arrows. We're crop circling. Should they be using an app for that? Mels' muscle car, in contrast to Rory's retro mini. "Doctor not following this. Doctor very lost..." Close your eyes and think of Dawn Summers. "Time travel. That's just brilliant" Thematic statement! "You've got a time machine. I've got a gun. What the hell. Let's kill Hitler!" Greatest line ever? Retcon. Amy's total confusion over Rory. Love the cut from the TARDIS model to the real thing. Temporal grace = clever lie. Hah! South Wales doubles for 30s Berlin. Complete with a shape changing robot full of miniature people and murderous antibodies. Someone's been reading Isaac Asimov.

The TARDIS interrupts the robot's mission. To kill Hitler. Oops. "Believe me, it was an accident" I love the read on that line. Rory punches Hitler and locks him in the stationary cupboard. So much for that. The tiny people reckon that the TARDIS is hiding a female war criminal. Mels proposes to the Doctor. "Penny in the air" She's Melody. And she's regenerating. Circular logic. "You got to raise me after all" Hello Alex. "I love it. I'm all, sort of, mature. Hello, Benjamin!" Someone's having way too much fun! "Oh, that's magnificent! I'm going to be wearing lots of jodhpurs!" Everyone else looks mildly appalled. The Doctor and River play I know you know. The sonic and letter knife duel is pure Harry Potter. "I'm a psychopath. I'm not rude." "Mummy, pay attention. I was born to kill the Doctor" Judas kiss. And, as always, she jumps out of the window.

Classic bit of nazi baiting. With added cleavage. "Can you ride a motorbike?" "I expect so. It's that sort of day..." The Doctor was killed on the shores of Lake Silencio? Clue there, I think. "Get me someone I like" Oooh, fan service. "Fish fingers and custard" Fancy nazi hotel, complete with Pachelbel's canon even though one of the scores quite clearly says "Johannes Brahms" on it. River makes an entrance and semi-naked people leave. "OK, I'm trapped inside a giant robot replica of my wife. I'm really trying not to see this as a metaphor." So that's why River ages backwards. "You killed the Doctor. On the orders of movement known as the Silence and the Academy of the Question." Robot Amy infodumps. While the Doctor takes the time to dress up like Fred Astaire. "At least I'm not a time-travelling, shape-shifting robot operated by miniaturised cross people which, I have got to admit, I didn't see coming" You and me both. The cross people explain: they use time travel to extract and punish people who've done wrong and send them to hell. More infodumpage: the Silence is a religious movement; their core belief is that Silence will fall when the Question is asked; the first Question, the oldest question in the universe, hidden in plain sight.

The robot sends river to hell and Amy triggers the robot's immune system. "You will experience a tingling sensation and then death" Ouch. The cross people have a Star Trek transporters. Time to escape through the eye. Now we know why River can fly the TARDIS. A word in private, presumably a confession of love, an identity is revealed and a sacrifice is made. Is it enough to balance the scales? "She'll be absolutely fine." "No. She won't. She will be... amazing" The Blue Book makes its first appearance and we know why River became/becomes an archaeologist: "I'm looking for a good man..."
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Melody Pond? Hah! Silver eyepatch lady threatens. Amy's passive-aggressive bedtime story is intercut with the cybermen getting a pasting. Significant shot of Soldier Girl in the background. Nice misdirect on the baby's parentage. Superman pod? Check. "I have a message from the Doctor and question from me: where is my wife?" The cybermen use centrifugal gravity? Significant Soldier Girl is sewing something Significant. She also gets a name: Lorna Bucket.

Meanwhile, in Victorian London: "Thank you, Parker. I won't be needing you again tonight" "Yes, milady" Thunderbirds! Having just eaten Jack the Ripper, Lizardwoman finds the TARDIS in her drawing room. A Welsh Sontaran nurse it the 39th century who seems to be Morbo's second cousin? Why not. River breaking back in: the Doctor has taken her skating for her birthday. But she can't help: the Doctor's going to rise higher, fall further, and finally learn the truth about the mysterious River Song. The Blue Guy exposits: the Doctor is calling old favours and going to war.

Lorna gives Amy her Significant Sewing. Foreshadowing? "They're talking like he's famous" "He's sort of like a... dark legend" Amy listens in on Col Manton's St Crispin's Day Speach. Apparently the pope is now a mainframe. And also female. The big reveal: "Point a gun at me, if it'll help you relax" The Headless Monks seem to have mastered the dark side of the force.

"You do realise he's man, don't you ma'am?" "Mammals. You all look alike" Lizardwoman and Jenny deserve their Sarah Waters-penned spin-off. "The Doctor must think he's winning, right until the trap closes" Luckily Significant Lorna overhears. And suddenly there are space pirates! The Doctor humiliates Manton. "Good men have too many rules" Nice close up of Matt Smith. "Today is not the day to find out why I have so many" Rory to the rescue. "Crying Roman with a baby. Definitely cool" The Doctor understands baby. But not how family names work.

"You have never risen higher" Lizardwoman says the fatal words. "Could she even regenerate?" Call back to the end of The Invisible Astronaut. "I know how you can blush" She may be cold-blooded, but she's got a good understanding of the audience demographics. "It's all running about and sexy fish vampires..." When did Dr Who turn into On Chesil Beach? "Why would a Timelord be a weapon?" "They've seen you" Nasty home truth for the Doctor.

The trap snaps shut. "That's the attack prayer!" Ick. Amy's going to need serious therapy to get over that. River arrives in a thunderclap and explains it all. "This wasn't me!" "This was exactly you!" "Can't you read?" Matt Smith's look of dawning realisation makes up for all the stuff that hasn't worked so far, as does Amy's look of abandonment. "The only the water in the forest is the river" Well, duh. And it's time to fade to black and tell the viewers that they'll have to wait until September for the rest...
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A reprise of Dr Who catchphrases past. The acid finally comes in handy. "It's just so inspiring to hear me say it!" Narcissism much? I knew the shoes were going to be important! Just what is Jen painting? Acid + stone = poison gas. Check. "I think I coughed so hard I pulled a muscle" Foreshadowing. Jen has been turned to revolution by memories of previous incarnations. Amy is very confused about identity theory. "Being almost the Doctor is like being no Doctor at all" Callback to Human Nature. "There can be only one!" The Doctor's not a Highlander fan. Silver eyepatch lady. "It's a time memory. Like a mirage. Nothing to worry about" So. Not. True. Amy accidentally spills the Impossible Astronaut beans. But to which Doctor?

"You can't fake a burn" But you can fake an entire person. Jen plays the feeble female card and Rory falls for it. A million gallons of boiling acid? Check! The two Miranda's prove they're identical. "The eyes have it" So that's what Jen drew. Creepy. As is her extendo-jaw thing. "How long have we got?" "An hour? Five seconds? Somewhere between" Oh Rory, you are far too trusting. How come the phone works, when the link to the mainland doesn't? It's curtains for Jimmy: "I'm quite hansom from this angle!" Great last words. Except for Jen, all the gangers are very human: even the sacrifices are split between gangers and humans. The Doctor pulled the old switcheroo! And Amy fessed up to the wrong one! "It may not be the end" Leaving open the possibility of an Anubis Gates resolution. Glass and steel offices are still popular in the 22nd century.

Recap of the Doctor's original offer of fish and chips. "Shenanigans" The Doctor wanted to know how to block signals to the flesh. "You haven't been here for a long, long time" Since the end of the The Impossible Astronaut. And we're in silver eyepatch territory.
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Nice establishing shot of the island. Armoured suits, halberds, supertoxic acid and question about the nature of humanity: we're in Frankenstein territory. The TARDIS has a stereo? And a dart board? "I love a cockerell" Looks more like a binnacle to me. Gamma particles? If that's anything like gamma radiation, Amy and Rory need never worry about contraception again. The Doctor's a Dusty Springfield fan? I'm not sure that kissing acid burns is an accepted emergency treatment. Oh, so we're in the 22nd century. "You know which one" Fantastic little bit of acting from Matt Smith.

Font and sarcophagus: cue the Flesh. "Moss grows. It's no more than that" So, slavery then. "It's like it was scanning me" When you stare into the abyss and all that. The duplication scene is wonderfully disturbing. The weathervane is the power source for everything? Something tells me that staying plugged in during the storm is a stupid idea. Vinyl is apparently going to make a comeback in the 22nd century. "It seems the storm has animated your 'gangers" Again with the Frankstein motif. Or possibly Short Circuit. Cue the deep question about identity and memory and continuity. Rory is empathy guy. Also peril guy. "Who was in harness?" He was holding the plate with a tea towel! "You seem to know something about the Flesh" Oh Doctor.

Serious H&S violations — it's worse than Black Mesa. "My name is Jennifer Lucas. I'm not a factory part. I had toast for my breakfast... I'm not a monster! I'm me!" I like Jennifer. The boots thing? A convenient way of telling the Doctor and his 'ganger apart? Woman with the silver eye? Check. Rory gets the whole identity thing; Amy wigs. Full on exorcist twist from 'ganger Miranda. More debate about the nature of memory. "Oh great. That is just so typically me" It's never seeing your worst characteristics reflected in the mirror, is it?

"The chapel. Only one way in. Stone walls, two feet thick" Time to fort up. The armour and halberds are back. 'Ganger Jen's a pretty mean mimic. I'm not very impressed by that door. And, quelle suprise, something nasty is lurking around in the back of the vault. Anubis Gates much? Or maybe it's just a misdirect.
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"I only wish I could go in your place... No I don't, because it's really going to hurt." Very Gaimanesque. The Doctor's mail face is a delight. Time to leave the universe and get soul snatched. Ten years on and we miss Douglas Adams as much as ever. Love the glowing washing machine. "Keep back from this one. She bites" "Do I? Excellent! It's like kissing, only there's a winner!" Suranne Jones is beyond superb, both here and throughout. And also super cryptic. I love Auntie and Uncle's accents. House, though, is HAL level creepy. Auntie has mismatched hands — never a good sign. Nice gibberish. "You want to be forgiven?" "Don't we all?" Thematic statement! The bogus errand is totally bogus. Oh noes; misled by mail spool. Amy cracks the bogus errand.

"Ah, it's my thief. It's about time." Love the dialogue. Also the acting. "When you stole me. And I stole you." Fan service. Green glowing console: that can't be good. It isn't. "And we're in the TARDIS, so we're safe." Think again. The tragedy of mortality. "Do you have a name? 700 years; finally he asks!" Hah! They really are like a married couple. House is a sadist? Colour me unsurprised. "So entertain me. Run." Love the junkyard vista. So that's what the TARDIS corridors look like.

"You have never been very reliable... You didn't always take me where I wanted to go!" "No but I always took you where you needed to go" Thematic statement? Ah bulkhead doors: the staple of every SF chase sequence. "I wanted to see the universe so I stole a Time Lord and ran away." M. Gaiman, with this fan service you are really spoiling us. Disturbing graffiti is way disturbing. Rory is dead again. Foreshadowing? "Which one's Amy? The pretty one?" The TARDIS has a thing for Rory! Love the way the lighting changes as the POV switches. It's something nasty in dark 2.0. Crimson: is that the Soviet flag? Recursion. House knows some nasty tricks. But so does the Doctor.

"I just wanted to say hello. Hello Doctor. It's so very, very nice to meet you." I seem to have something in my eye. Eyes. Damn it.

The goggles are terribly steampunk, especially with the rest of the costume. "The only water in the forest is the river" Foreshadowing much? "I should probably make you two a new bedroom" "OK, um, Doctor, this time could we lose the bunk beds?" It's a miracle Amy managed to get up the duff, what with the ladders and all. "Are you there? Can you hear me? OK. The Eye of Orion, or wherever we need to go..." Because it couldn't really end any other way.
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Square rigger from out of the fog. Gris-gris and half-set sails says something is very wrong. Nice misdirect on the injury and the idea of the siren is established. "Yo ho ho! Or does no one actually say that?" Matt Smith's delivery is a thing of beauty. Technobabble. They've been becalmed for 8 days. "She's not a doxy..." Amy buckles a mean swash. "You have killed me." "No way! It's just a cut!" And now we know the siren is attracted to blood. Rory is butterfingers. Treasure Island moment. "You should dress as a pirate more often!" TMI. Cue green Lily Cole, turning people to dust. "Freud would say you're compensating" The hold has leeches? "No curse is getting through three solid inches of timber" Cue the siren. The Doctor has a tricorn.

Naked flames the powder magazine? Not a good idea. "He's my son." Well, duh. Of course the boy has the mark too. I don't think you're to escape; it's far too soon. "Darkness. Demon. You can have first go." The Doctor shows his pragmatic side. Mutiny! More lame technobabble, this time with added foreshadowing. How could the kid have got this far without realising the Awful Troof? I like Bonneville's gloating. "TARDIS runs off on it's own. That's a bit of a new one." Um Frontios? "I was wrong" "What, again!?!" She does it with mirrors. The breathing thing is particularly bizarre.

"You're doing fine. Just stay calm." Another cryptic remark from woman with the silver eye. Nice moment between the Doctor and the Captain. "Man the sails!" Yes because it's not like a square rigger requires a big crew, is it? Wow that crown sounds tinny. Ouch: Rory and the boom get better acquainted (didn't the ship used to have a square-rigged mizzen?). The Doctor cracks the case: something to do with tangled dimensions. Wells reference? Alien boogies! Someone's a Coma fan. The absinthe fairy is actually a doctor. Um, anthropocentric much? "I can teach you how to save me. You've seen them do it loads of times in films" CPR survival rates are really low, y'know. You're going to sail more distant seas, Captain. Classic movie resuscitation scene, complete with delayed recovery. Space Pirates! Flashbulb memory and a reminder of the whole Schrödinger's baby thing: because living in the 21st century means having a thirty second memory span.
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Three months later. Amy is running away from a bunch of G-men, but where has she come from? Canton is suddenly evil and the flashback doesn't explain it. Area 51! What's the point of the yellow line? False beard is totally FALSE. "I see you" The fnords are even creepier than the angels. River: BASE jumper extraordinaire. If the bricks are the densest thing in the universe, how come the scientists can move them by hand? "Nothing gets through that" Except, presumably, something that can travel in time. Evil Canton catchs Rory on a dam in Utah. "Looks aren't everything" Thematic statement? The prison/evil thing was a bluff. Who'd have guessed it? "It's not Apollo 11. That would be silly! It's Neil Armstrong's foot." Longest cold open ever.

Recap time: fnords are real; memories can be edited; they've spent the last three months tracking them; and someone really liked Memento. That's not nanotech. It's more like centitech. Telepathic connection? Still haven't learnt the lessons of Silence in the Library, have we? I guess it beats scribbling all over yourself. Nice setup of the post-hypnotic thing — very creepy. Welcome to Arkham. Amy's been raiding Dana Scully's wardrobe; it totally suits her. The administrator is fantastic: vulnerable and crazy and damaged. "There's always a bit left over, isn't there?" How much worse to be stuck in a haunted house when you're unable to remember the monsters and the only clue is frantic voice mail from yourself?

The Doctor is being held prisoner in the Large Shandon Lecture Theatre? Been there, done that, know the feeling. Nixon glad-hands. River and Rory look seriously 60s. "No I think she's just dreaming" Woman with the silver eye has got to be a foreshadow. Photo of Amy with a baby. "How can that be?" Return of astro-child and yet another lacuna. Dear fnord: you may be able to alter memories, but that doesn't make you invulnerable. "You have to tape everything that happens in the office" Oh [expletive deleted]! I knew the telepathy chips were a bad idea. Flashbulb memories: "Silence will fall" Ambiguous much?

"It's an exoskelton. Basically life support" An incubator? Bringing up baby, fnord style? The whole moon thing was just a blind to build a space suit? The fnord has never watched a Bond film. Charmingly imprecise confession of love from Amy. "Is this really important flirting?" The TV has bunny ears! Oh very clever. Matrix-style shoot out. Nixon worries about his legacy: "Dare I ask, will I be remembered?" Oh boy. "I think the moon is far enough for now, don't you Mr Delaware?" "I figured it might be..." More resignation than agreement. Alex Kingston: master of the look of barely suppressed agony. Is Amy having Schrödinger's baby? Is that's what a time-head looks like?
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"This isn't as bad as it looks!" How can Amy not get Laurel and Hardy? It looks like Royal Mail now deliver across time as well as space. Why a school bus? "I've been running my whole life. Now its time for me to stop." Oooh, foreshadowing. The Doctor is 1103. And doesn't like wine: "I thought it would taste more like the gums!" Iconic shot of the astronaut standing in the water. "It's OK, I know it's you" and cut away to avoid revealing an important plot point. Cue Morgan Sheppard with a can of gas. "We do what the Doctor's friends always do: as we're told." River cracks the case.

Matt Smith is fantastic in the diner scene: the jokey opening line, the same sort of introductions as before, but everything falls flat and the Doctor doesn't know why. Alex Kingston's look of fury is great. And also scary. The Doctor is 909. The whole thing is a nice reversal of the status quo: the companions (and the viewer) are in on the spoilers and, just this once, the Doctor is the one in the dark. "Rory, is everybody cross with me for some reason?" River exposits. "Why are you in prison? Who did you kill?" Foreshadowing? "Fish fingers and custard" Great moment between the Doctor and Amy.

Cue Mark Sheppard with a glass of whiskey. "1969. Who's president?" Nixon's back! And he has tapes! "I can't trust anyone..." And we're in farce mode. The TARDIS and transfer of momentum. How does that work then? "I'm going to need a SWAT team ready to mobilise, street level maps of Florida, a pot of coffee, 12 jammy dodgers and a fez" Did Perry Mason make it to Gallifrey? Amy sees the fnords. Nice period detail on the lavatory door. I like bathroom woman's shock/forget loop — it's funny and creepy and underlines the plot point.

"Surnames of three of America's founding fathers." "Lovely fellas. Two of them fancied me!" Heh. It's a trap? Well, duh! Someone needs to clean their medical equipment. Haven't the fnords every heard of hygiene? "I'm quite the screamer..." "What's going on here?" "Nothing! She's just a friend!" She's so not. The fnords get creepier: how can you fight someone you can't remember? Call back to River's death in Silence in the Library — it's not even a retcon. She's travelling backwards in the Doctor's timestream and she knows she's going to die of a broken heart. Dr Who: the least heteronormative show on the Beeb. Amy is pregnant, so whence River's queasiness? Thematic statement: guns are always bad.

And we're done.
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A sad day for Whovians with the death of the mighty Nicholas Courtney. Not just great as Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart but, in more recent times, wonderful as the superannuated Inspector Lionheart in The Scarifiers — his double act with Terry Molloy's slightly dithery Professor Dunning was a great delight.
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While I rather liked The Waters of Mars, I've got to admit to rather mixed feelings. I liked the way the doctor got to wrestle with his conscience in a way that he hasn't had to do for a while, and I thought moments between the doctor and Adelaide Brooke, particularly when the doctor was stuck in the airlock, were really very good. But I wasn't so impressed with all the running around — as the doctor all but said, Bowie Base should have commissioned a special space Brompton — which seemed to do little more than fill the time between the attacks of the killer water people.

Still, it was intriguing enough to make me look forward to the xmas episode...
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I'm impressed. This week's Torchwood series was really rather good. Far better than the previous series; it really seemed to benefit from being scheduled on consecutive evenings.

The 456 were a particularly inspired choice of villainous alien. All that creepy Wyndhamesque stuff with the world's children all speaking in unison was particularly effective; especially the way that, once the children had finished making their sinister group announcements, they instantly and immediately snapped back to their normal activities as if nothing had happened.

I also thought that the physical portrayal of the aliens was particularly good. The decision to keep them largely unseen really added to their creepiness and gave the impression that they might be capable of anything. The long pauses in their dialogue and their uncertain responses also worked particularly well and really cranked up the tension — you could never be entirely confident that they weren't about to flip out until their reply came through the translator.

The guest cast, too, particularly good. Peter Capaldi was great as John Frobisher, the reluctant and, when the occasion demanded it, ruthless civil servant given the task of managing first contact with aliens — I loved the way the character transformed, from being self-doubting and slightly vulnerable with his human colleagues, into a strong, certain negotiator when dealing with the alien emissary. Susan Brown, who played Frobisher's deputy, Bridget Spiers, was wonderful, especially in her scenes with Frobisher's new PA.

I also thought that the politicians were rather good. Brian Green, the PM, with his Pilate-like refusal to dirty his hands in the sordid business of the aliens and his determination to focus on the political bottom line was very nicely played by Nicholas Farrell. There were a couple of excellent moments towards the end where he sits, apparently ignored by all around him, only to pick himself up a few minutes later and come out with some breathtaking piece of political cynicism that really seemed to hit the mark. And the way that his authority was undercut by his Home Secretary, played by Deborah Findlay, who chose to step into the space left by her vacillating Prime Minister, was very nicely handled — the moment when Findlay's character finally says the unsayable, that the UK could well do without 300,000 underachieving children, was brilliantly callous.
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I've always been rather sceptical about Torchwood. Too much running around and shouting, and not enough tension for me. But Children of Earth has converted me. It's really rather good. Peter Capaldi, in particular, was on excellent form — his scenes with the 456 ambassador were genuinely creepy.
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Rather bumpy Boxing Day, marred by a massive lunchtime row over my sister's less than wonderful table manners. After a temporary expulsion and an apology, peace was eventually settled with a game of Pictureka. When it became clear that my team had been prematurely hobbled — it's never a good sign when both pater and grandmother are both assigned to the same side when playing games of observation — I decided to opt out.

With the rest otherwise engaged, I sloped off to the study to watch the Dr Who Christmas Special on the iPlayer, which I rather enjoyed. I particularly liked the whole steampunk thing, which really suited the cybermen and the delightfully sinister Miss Hartigan, and thought the whole David Morrissey misdirect was particularly nicely handled.

Then, with Dr Who safely watched, I returned in time to help out with the Guardian topical cryptic crossword. I think we managed to complete the whole thing, with the exception of the clue, "Block bridge spectator on big hand(6)", which turned out to be "kibosh", which completely confounded us.
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The latest Dr Who radio adventure was truly outstanding. Set in fin de siècle Sweden, it featured the heisting of a diamond that wasn't really a diamond, Lucie pretending to be an aristo called Miss Palmer-Tomkinson and a ride on the electric railway. Best of all, though, it also saw the return of my two favourite characters from the last series, Karen and the Headhunter, who'd gone into business together as time travelling petty criminals. Now there are two characters seriously in need of their own spin-off series...

Max Warp

Oct. 28th, 2008 09:11 pm
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Today's thing much liked: Max Warp, the most recent Dr Who audio drama. The bizarre premise — Top Gear in space meets an Agatha Christie murder mystery where nothing is quite what it seems — was wonderfully weird, while Graeme Garden and James Fleet were just superb as the respectively blustering and boring presenters of the best spaceship show in the seven galaxies.

Truly inspired.
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Today's edition of R3's Music Matters is well worth catching, if only for Petroc Trelawny's insightful interview with John Adams. They discuss artistic collaboration — something Adams describes as being, "...after a murder/suicide pact, the most painful think two people can undertake together" — whether Adams is precious about letting go of his pieces once they've been written and how to go about telling a conductor that they've completely failed to understand a piece of music. Adams also mentions that he's on a DHS watch list, probably because of controversy surrounding The Death of Klinghoffer, which seems somewhat bizarre.

In other related radio news, I'm looking forward to hearing the new series of Dr Who radio adventures that kick off tomorrow on BBC7. I really enjoyed the last series back in 2007, which combined some really excellent episodes — Human Resources was truly inspired — with an enjoyably sparky relationship between the Doctor and his no-nonsense sidekick, Lucie Miller, so I'm hoping for great things.

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