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Dr Who New Comic Review

Dr Who New Comic Review (… Phew)

Even as the Doctor regenerates and replaces massive cheekbones with hawk-like eyebrows, his comic book offerings is rebooted in two new series.  I’m reviewing the first offering of each, so in a strange way I too am a time traveler except instead of a tardis I have a train to my grandparents’ house and instead of a companion I have this bag of  spare clothes and instead of… I’m going to stop.

The two new series are for the 10th and 11th Doctor respectively ( the 12th Doctor’s comic book run will begin in October) and  in both we have just lost touch with companions (Donner and the Ponds). In each case the Doctor meets his new partner in this first issue: 10 meets the smart yet strained Gabriella who is trying to hold down 2 jobs in the family business while studying at night school; while 11 meets Alice a middle aged lady who is struggling after the death of her mother. Dr Who has never been a scientifically rigorous exercise in time travel, so it is characters – particularly companions – who provide the series with its draw. I think that both comics have strong potential here. Alice’s grief and the manner with which 11 must interact with her to both comfort and distract her puts a different edge on the usually exuberant Doctor. Much of 10s comic follows Gabriella; her family drama plays out well, her father’s concepts of family loyalty fighting her desire to live on her own terms. It’s too early to say how this will play out but the writers (Nick Abadzis [10], Al Ewing [11] and Rob Williams [11 - I know these look like their ages...])  have set up these relationships well.

Titan Comics have also done a good job of presenting the Doctor. 10 talks to himself while 11 bickers with Alice in the same way he did with Amy: “Don’t do cryptic… I already bagsied cryptic”. Fans of the television series will see their characters well represented here, if some drawing are slightly odd – Matt Smith’s face was not, last time I checked, actually twice as tall as it is wide. The art as a whole is less inspired. For 11 (Alice X Zhang, Simon Fraser and Gary Caldwell) it is colourful, but takes few risks. The style in 10 (Alice X Zhang, Elena Casagrande and Arianna Florean) is better, with a less cartoony feel, but while I enjoyed the detail in a few panels, the comic would have benefited from the same approach throughout.

While it is probably too early to tell, I felt the story in 11 was poorer than it could have been. There was Dr Who’s usual lazy portrayal of any non-Doctor authority figure as craven and stupid and the ending was too sentimental for my taste. Not a deal-breaker, but juxtaposed to the strong characterisation of Alice, there could have been greater depth. The comic hinted at a longer term story arc which might be more fulfilling on that level. I found 10 more satisfying in this regard, though little actually took place instead setting up the pieces to be resolved in a proceeding comic. I really hope Gabriella’s family get more treatment because I think there is real interest there.

Overall I enjoyed reading both comics though I would assert a preference towards 10 over 11 (I felt the same way about the TV series though, so perhaps it’s an accurate depiction). The comics are fun but both lack edge. I am up for convincing over the coming issues, but I’m not sold yet. That said, if you are a big Dr Who fan or someone looking for adventure, these are sure to be a hit and both have the potential grow into great series.

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First Doctor Who Series 8 Photo

The BBC has released the first picture of Peter Capaldi from Series 8 of Doctor Who.

Capaldi, notably in Matt Smith’s costume (presumably so as not to spoil the new costume just yet…) is pictured with Jenna Coleman.

The pair are currently filming the first two episodes of the new series in Cardiff, Wales.

 

Dr Who Name 1

Andi Gets Another Tattoo – The Dr Who Gallifreyan name

I went ahead and got it done again! As you all are aware from the TARDIS on my leg to the Bow Ties are cool T-shirt I’m an avid fan of Doctor Who. I took a notion last week of getting a third tattoo, so I had a think and wanted either a Space related one, a Portal one or another Dr. Who one, I came up with the following three…

In the end I decided to go for the Gallifreyan – more will eventually follow. So here it is complete, not going to lie it hurt a lot in the inner arm but it looks amazing, so I can say it was totally worth it.

Doctor Who - A Town Called Mercy - Poster

Review: Doctor Who – A Town Called Mercy

Doctor Who - A Town Called Mercy - Poster

A Town Called Mercy

In Brief:

The Doctor. A Doctor. Two sides. One coin.

In Depth:

The latest Who offering promised a Wild West adventure… and we most certainly got it!

It’s probably best to say that, whilst A Town Called Mercy isn’t quite the beautifully dark Asylum of the Daleks romp, or the madcap hi-jinks of Dinosaurs on a Spaceship, it does manage to place itself rather squarely between them – and even finds a few moments for quiet contemplation that the first two speedy entries to Series 7 could not!

Mercy begins quite simply compared to the others as well; rather than a reasonably long teaser before the opening credits, we get a brisk scene setter that both sets the piece as a legend of the Old West, and introduces us to the enemy of the piece, the Gunslinger – a beautifully created cyborg assassin. I give much praise to the costume, props and make up departments of nuWho, and to acting of Andrew Brooke, who brought this menacing figure to life.

We are then back with Eleven and the Ponds (there is no scene of him picking them up in amusing circumstances) as he has popped back into their lives; he’s supposed to be taking them to the Mexican Festival of the Dead, but fate being fickle, they’ve somehow landed on the outskirts of the town of ‘Mercy’, which is surrounded by a ‘barrier’ of wood and stones and Keep Out signs.

“Has someone been peeking at my Christmas list?!”

So naturally they head into town…

It really sells the piece that the production team went all the way to Spain and the filming site known as Fort Bravo, to film this adventure; the set is a classic example of an authentic Western town, right down to the Grand Central Bank! It probably helps to no end that various films over the years have been made at this site and has firmly cemented in viewers mind that this is what the Wild West would have looked like. But even then no CGI can compare to the real dust blowing across the ground, and the vast vistas of barren land.

The writer, Toby Whithouse, has crafted a marvellous story that weaves the best of the Western tropes (showdowns at noon, gunfights, mysterious strangers, gunmen) and included a few sci fi tropes for good measure; combined with the direction of Saul Metzstein, a real physical world that exists within the Whoniverse is very much present, and crucially, alive.

The guest stars this week are Adrian Scarborough (as Kahler Jex) and, deep breath now, Ben Browder (as Marshall Issac). Jex is the other alien of the adventure (separate to the Gunslinger), presented as another alien doctor who has dedicated his life to healing the sick; the townsfolk are very protective of the man, especially Issac, who believes that America is a land of second chances…

Adrian gives a very nice turn as Jex with a curious tilt to his accent that steps just the other side of English; determined, fearful and enigmatic. Unfortunately, for this reviewer, his role is somewhat sidestepped by the entrance of Issac, a character who sweeps in and takes control of a volatile situation, but without stealing the whole show from the main cast; but given that this role is played by Ben Browder of Farscape (possibly the most creative science fiction television I have had the pleasure of watching) and Stargate SG1 fame, it’s particularly thrilling to see him involved in nuWho. It’s a very selfless performance, where Browder gives much more to the characters and actors around him than the role probably calls for (until the moment where everything relies on what Issac does and the rest of the episode must inevitably follow!)

It turns out the Gunslinger is hunting down this Doctor Jex, and when the purpose why is revealed, it’s somewhat of a surprise how the story twists in the light. It turns out that Jex is responsible for creating the cyborg, through heavily implied disturbing experiments, all in the name of stopping a war on his home planet – he is regretful and seeking his own redemption for what he did in the name of war – but also firm in his choice.

Eleven is somewhat, understandably, horrified; this was a man who he saw some semblance of himself in. In one of the more shocking moments of the episode, but completely forecast by previous moments, Eleven, prompted by Jex to see similarities in their behaviour, forces Jex to cross over the Keep Out line to where the Gunslinger can get to him, and to make sure he can’t back across, he steals a gun and holds it point blank at Jex. Only a short regeneration ago, this is the man who never would…

“Today I honour the victims first! His, the Masters, the Daleks! All the people who died because of MY mercy!”

It’s here, now, that Amelia Pond steps up to the plate; acting as the voice of reason, and the audience, telling Eleven why he can’t do this, why he has to be better than this. It’s a great moment, between Karen Gillan and Matt Smith, where she has to out-Doctor him.

When reason, or better judgement returns, a quiet moment in the cells between the two Doctors is quite telling; Eleven sees too much of himself in the man. Jex has dedicated himself to healing the sick for his atonement, as has Eleven, in his own way, for all his sins.

“We all carry our prisons with us.”

Matt Smith is given a plethora of emotions to work with this week; elated at the mystery, horrified at the discovery, thrilled at finding someone like him, terrified by finding someone like him… You can see why Eleven still has so much more to explore as he keeps changing and growing as a character; in the darkness there is much good to be found.

It’s a shame really that Amy and Rory are not given as much to work with; but maybe that’s the point. They are just stopping in the Doctors’ life now; he has no one with him to ground him, to keep him seeing everything through fresh eyes – more than ever, this episode is more about how the Doctor sees things than the companions – perhaps that why there is no sequence showing Eleven picking up the Ponds.

The episode isn’t all doom, gloom and grit; there are plenty of laughs and humour found too. I’m torn between the Doctor proudly swaggering into a saloon and ordering a drink (“Tea. The strong stuff. Leave the bag in…”) and his latest ability to be revealed: “I speak horse…”

I’ve been a bit of the fence about how much is Eleven being silly and mysterious, and how much is truth, but given that he maintains a conversation with the horse (…[Her name is] Susan… and she wants you to respect her lifestyle choice…”) after he has ridden out into the desert and there is no one else around… I’m more inclined to believe it.

By episode’s end, events have taken an optimistic tone; wrongs are righted by those who committed them, and a new legend in history of the Old West has been born. We are left as viewers not really knowing who to condemn; as a wise man said, America is the land of the second chances… this episode of Doctor Who reaffirms that who we have been and the things we have done, do not have to define us for the rest of our lives… and sometimes they do…

“You’re both good men… you just forget sometimes.”

This episode isn’t quite as complicated thematically as Whithouse’s last episode from Season 6, The God Complex, (which I enjoyed very much by the way) and I’m inclined to say I’d like to give these episode 3.5 horses racing across the desert out of 5, but that just seems unfair given that there was more of an emotional story at the heart of this offering than last weeks Dinosaurs on a Spaceship, but they are two very different beasts… I’m going to have to settle on a very strong 3 and a half!

Next week: the slowest invasion of Earth ever… and the Doctor comes to stay. In your spare room. Bring on The Power of Three

Dinosaurs on a spaceship

Doctor Who: Dinosaurs on a Spaceship Review

In Brief:

I actually can’t do better than the episode title…

In Depth:

A very good episode that jumps straight back into the current set up for the first half of Doctor Who series 7, whereby the Doctor has no regular travelling companion, instead he picks up people along the way for brief trips and then drops them off again!

“This is the gang! Never had a gang before!”

This episode figuratively blasts off from Egypt 1334 BC, to India 2367, to African plains circa 1902, to modern day Earth (specifically the Ponds [they are not Williams’] living room) and then FORWARD again to 2367.

All in the first 10 minutes – got that? That is how fast this episode moves and it does so delightfully, maintaining the viewers interest, and really showcasing the movie/blockbuster feel that Moffat and his crack team have been advocating for months now. But I think what’s really key is that this episode is not as dark as the series opener – there is no divide within the Ponds here – fact is they come across as though they’ve never been stronger!

So Eleven has just wrapped up an incident in ancient Egypt with Queen Nefertiti or Neffy to her friends apparently (Rhian Steele), who tags along, next is big game hunter John Riddell (Rupert Graves), and of course the Ponds (it’s been a while… 10 months!).

Oh and Rory’s dad – Brian Williams (Mark Williams).

Eleven whisks them all away to the spaceship of the title, which contains, you guessed it… dinosaurs! Which is on a course to Earth. Which is currently tracking it. And will launch missiles in 6 hours.

In a few short moments the gang is quickly divided up (Eleven, Rory & Brian opposite Amy, Neffy and Riddell) and both work separately towards discovering why the ship is headed to Earth, who built the ship (I only saw it coming just before they revealed it – I’m silly like that), and why are those who built it no longer onboard…

And then there are also two large robots (think C-3PO and R2D2 only bigger. With lasers) and trader/space pirate Solomon (David Bradley)!

With so many characters involved before we’ve even gotten to the 20 minute mark you could be forgiven for feeling this episode is a wee bit over-stuffed (!) but the proof is in the pudding and writer Chris Chibnall gives every single character their due. Riddell and Solomon both come over rather one note characters, given not much in the way of motivation or reasons for who they are and how they came to be, but it’s more than up for by the sheer vigour and relish they put into their roles.

I’d love to see Riddell back; it’s a shame it most likely won’t be without Amelia Pond and her great big gun by his side!

“I’m worth two men… you can help if you like…” KA-CHIK!

It’s Nefertiti who’s character gets some delicious lines and moments within the episode too, sparking very nicely off of our dear Amy Pond too! Amelia (Karen Gillan) particularly delights, as not having to play moody and heartbroken, instead she gets to play Doctor for Riddell and Neffy, solving her own little mysteries to help her Raggedy Man any way she can, and the sheer delight to be taking charge!

And of the Ponds in general it is very good to see them getting along and bouncing off of each other; throw in Rory’s dad into the mix you do get some cracking one-liners.

Funnily enough it’s Brian Williams who gets the stand out moment of the episode, which has absolutely nothing to do with dinosaurs on a spaceship, running and pick shouty-explodey-wodey moments – it’s just a small moment towards the end of the episode but you’ll know it because its so vastly different in tone to everything that came before and I did love the music… But he also offers some good scenes between him and Rory, where he gets to show off his nursing and confident TARDIS traveller side. It’s actually brilliant to see where Brian’s character ends up at the end of this episode – faced with the Ponds leaving very soon now, having a sort of companion who is overwhelmed by the events but actually sees the solution through all the madness happening around him, and grows because of it, is very satisfying.

“I am NOT a Pond!”

I’m happy to see he’ll be returning in Chibnalls next episode of the series, The Power of Three.

What’s particularly striking about this episode is just how much fun Matt Smith is having as Eleven; he gets to bounce around the screen (seriously, watch how he runs compared to everyone else) and he shifts acting gears at a moments notice from playful to serious. His first moments interacting with Brian, blaming him and accusing him of invading his TARDIS (the Doctors fault), turning on Rory for bringing his dad along without permission (“You materialised around us!”) to welcoming him on board as a deliberate tactic. The episode is Matt Smith firing on all cylinders.

There’s a lot of good back and forth banter and interplay, but the serious moments do follow.

Take Eleven with Solomon where it takes it up a notch; gone is the playful façade and you do start to wonder exactly how well do we the viewer, really know this man. The actions the Doctor takes at the end of this episode do fit the man now, especially after a particularly uncomfortable act Solomon commits to get his own way…

Or how about Amelia and Eleven, discussing in a brief moment, where so much is left unsaid, that the Doctor is weening himself off of the Ponds, and Amelia genuinely fears she has been replaced with Riddell and Neffy. We know the Ponds are coming to the end of their time with the Doctor, but Amy’s bold faced statement about what could only tear them apart…

There’s also the gentle re-enforcement that now that the Doctor is “dead” he no longer is recognised; Solomon scans him in an attempt to value his identity and the computer, which has archives of all time and space, cannot find a match. In between stories is Eleven going around and deleting knowledge of himself? The Question is coming… Doctor Who indeed…

Oh and I haven’t even mentioned the dinosaurs yet who looked glorious! They are used when necessary and an awful lot of time has clearly gone in the CGI (was it the Mill or the Walking with Dinosaurs team!?) and the animatronics/physical versions! When the triceratops licks Brian William’s in pursuit of his uh, lets say sporting goods, it was particularly funny to see his (and Rory’s) reactions. The dinosaurs conveyed real menace and playful insecurity as needed – to quote Mr Pond “Goodo!”

So all in all, I have to say this is a good, fun episode to watch. It’s such a refreshing change to last weeks more grim and gritty approach from Moffat which challenged and thrilled, whilst this one sparks and runs. Both approaches kept this reviewer on the edge of his seat, and disbelieving at how much time had really gone by.

Clearly this blockbuster format is working a treat!

3 and a half Doctors riding dinosaurs out of 5!

Next week? Showdown at the OK Corral in A Town Called Mercy…

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Doctor Who Paper Craft

 

Doctor Who is back.  Yes, we are all rather excited about the latest season, but let’s get down & nerdy for a second, and talk the real reason for our Gallifrey-induced ramblings.  Doctor Who PAPERCRAFT!

From the Tardis and K-9, to the Doctor  and a few of his enemies, paper is entering a whole new dimension.  Check out the templates below, and get ready to print, fold, and enjoy!  (Don’t forget to break out those Sonic Screwdrivers and extra color ink cartridges – you’re going to need ‘em.)

 

 

Dinosaurs on a spaceship

Doctor Who: Dinosaurs on a Spaceship

Shortly after the airing of Asylum of the Daleks the BBC have uploaded the trailer for the next episode entitled Dinosaurs on a Spaceship. You can find the clip below.

 

The epic movie like poster for this next episode of Doctor Who also surfaced last week and if you haven’t seen it yet here it is;