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16th September 2014
ed_rex @ : Review: Listen, take two
Watching "Listen" (again)
The first time I watched "Listen", home after an 11-hour shift that followed an early rise, I wrote, "I definitely enjoyed it, definitely want to watch it again." I also wrote, "It sounds silly when I type it out, but [the story] gave me the shivers ..."
Well, hell. I did watch it again and now it seemed silly when I watched as well. There were no shivers to be found.
What was there was a mixed bag of an episode, combining Steven Moffat's still-effective skills at atmospheric scenes, with a show-runner's determined but mis-guided need to further place his singular stamp upon Doctor Who's cannon of mythology and back-story, and proof (as if any more were needed) that as a writer, he gives not a single damn for story-logic.
You don't have to read my review if you don't want your fun spoiled, you know. You really don't. Spoilers (in both senses of the term) ahoy!
14th September 2014
ed_rex @ : Review (of sorts): Listen
Listen (to me!)
I feel unesay.
Not because posting my inchoate, exhausted and half-drunk reactions to my first-watch of "Listen" makes me feel like an obsessive fan desperate to share his thoughts with all and sundry — although, clearly, that's what I am — but because I distrust the first reactions I so desperately want to share.
Yet here I am. Sharing my feelings instead of my thoughts, my knee's jerks rather than my practiced dance steps.
Steven Moffat has written an episode of Doctor Who that, on first viewing, I enjoyed quite a lot. I liked it. But — or should that be and so ...? — I feel uneasy. I am afraid of what judgement sober second thought may call down upon my first reactions.
So for now and for the record, those who care to read can find those first reactions here.
I liked it; what did you think? And do you think you're opinion will change when (if) you watch it again?
9th September 2014
ed_rex @ : Review: Robot of Sherwood
The Doctor and the Outlaw
I don't know about you, but I can forgive quite a lot when I'm laughing. Plot holes, character inconsistencies, even magic arrows "Of Random Plot Resolution".
In other words, "Robot of Sherwood" was cracking good fun, a story that didn't take itself too seriously while still managing (mostly) to take the Doctor & Co. seriously enough. Our suspension bridge of disbelief swayed, but it did not snap and neither did it twirl.
Robot of Sherwood gifted us an episode rich with clever dialogue (banter, even), exciting and sometimes funny action sequences, good actors having a very good time performing a low-concept story (see its title) that far exceeded expectations.
Thank you, Mark Gatiss, for bringing fun back to the Tardis — and (oh, all right!) thank you, Steven Moffat, for staying the hell out of the way and letting it happen.
If you're old enough to remember (or like me, have travelled back in time to enjoy) "The Pirate Planet", you're almost sure to enjoy "Robot of Sherwood", and nevermind the lack of a tin dog or bird. Click here for the words of one critic clapping.
3rd September 2014
ed_rex @ : Review: Enter the Dalek
The good, the bad and the Doctor
I feel dirty, like I awoke alone after a night of passion to realize my inamorata's clever words were lies, that her body had stained my sheets and her gentle caresses had left indelible, greasy streaks all over my body. Though I cannot deny the passions I had felt in the dark, with morning's light comes the fear that my wallet, and even my closet, may be empty.
I liked "Into the Dalek" when I watched it the first time. I really did. Even enjoyed it when I watched it a second time. Yet, when I began writing about it, started to think about what it was that had entertained me, the flaws shone ever brighter, like stars appearing one by one after the sun has slipped below the horizon.
"Into the Dalek" is the kind of episode that seduces with surface charms, then laughs at our pleasures, mocks our innocent hopes. Slick enough to entertain in the moment, the story shrivels under the the light of critical consideration.
Sorry, folks. I really thought this would be a positive review for a change. I was only when I began to write, and to really think about what I had watched, that I realized I had been fooled again. After all, The only good dalek ...
24th August 2014
ed_rex @ : Review: Deep Breath
Moffat's misogyny rales on
Doctor Who is blessed with a remarkable fandom.
Way back on the 12th of July, a black-and-white "screener" of the 8th series premiere, "Deep Breath" was released onto file-sharing sites, following a similar surreptitious (and — need I add? — thoroughly reprehensible!) release of the scripts of the first five episodes the week before. The Scot was out of the kilt, as it were, and anyone who wanted to could easily download a copy.
And yet, those of us who did encounter the samizdat seemed all to subscribe to a gentlefen's agreement that there would be no spoiling for those who preferred to wait for the final product in all its CGI glory. (At worst, some critics might have taken advantage of the incident to draft his (or her!) review ahead of time.)
Though I read a number of Who-related feeds, I didn't come across any unofficial spoilers, not even after the episode was aired in a number of movie theatres around the world. (I didn't look hard, but the point is, one would have had to look to be spoiled.)
Now, finally, the official broadcast is history and we're free to discuss that for which we've been waiting the better part of a year: a new season and a brand-new (if almost elderly) Doctor.
Was it worth it?
If you're able to forgive or justify its internal inconsistencies, tawdry fan-service, cheap laughs and a misogynist streak that holds on like a mysterious infection laughing at ever-stronger doses of antibiotics, well then, yes, I don't doubt for you it was.
If, on the other hand, you were hoping against hope for a story whose details and characterizations made sense and for a climax that didn't take from the show's companion every bit of agency she had, you will have been as disappointed as I was.
Read more/don't read more, it's up to you. But don't say I didn't warn you! In the world according to Steven Moffat, a woman without a man to tell her what to do is nothing ...
8th August 2014
jpgr @ : Ongoing Book Sale
Yep, I still have a number of Who books for sale. I have updated my list to make sure everything is listed and the sold books have been deleted.
Virgin New Adventures
Virgin Missing Adventures
BBC Eighth Doctor Adventures
BBC Past Doctor Adventures
BBC New Series Adventures
Torchwood (a few left)
Miscellaneous paperbacks (includes short trips & decalogs)
Big Finish audios
Some books have prices but I am willing to negotiate. If a book is not priced, I can check the going rates.
Please PM me with your email if you are interested.
28th April 2014
acciochocolate @ : TimeGate 2014, the DW (and more) convention, Atlanta, GA, USA, May 23rd-25th
TimeGate 2014, the Doctor Who (& more) annual convention, is taking place in Atlanta, GA, USA, over the Memorial Day weekend, May 23rd-25th. Please check out the site for a list of guests, events, hotel and travel info, memberships, and more, here: http://timegatecon.org/
If you find yourself feeling a little overwhelmed by the throngs of people at the big cons like SDCC and Dragoncon, please consider attending TimeGate. :) However, just because the con is smallish, doesn't mean that there isn't plenty to do! We have seven tracks of programming! Also: major events, with the con's guests, in the Main Ballroom, several rooms for gaming, a wonderful consuite, photo opps and autographs with the guests, an even larger dealers' room this year, fan tables, performances (musical and theatrical), a charity cabaret, a masquerade, and more.
One of the tracks, or portals as we call them at TimeGate, is the Wardrobe Portal, which is mostly about costuming/cosplaying in the Who'verse. The DW track is the Gallifrey Portal, which has the major guest events in the Main Ballroom, in addition to the fan panels in the track room.
Memberships are only $45 through May 1st; afterwards, they are $60 at the door. Check the website for member registration:http://www.timegatecon.org
See everyone at TimeGate 2014!
9th January 2014
ed_rex @ : The Time of the Doctor, reviewed
Fanboy's triumph, viewers' tragedy
I've said it before and will certainly say it again: there is a big danger in giving control of a venerable and much-loved popular fiction franchise to a writer who grew up reading or watching the stuff.
When a true fan takes the wheel of their beloved creation, it can become a toy, a gadget used to satisfy the writer's childish fantasies, not a vehicle for delivering stories to others.
The results tend to become ever-more convoluted and self-referential, leading to a slowly-dwindling audience of those hard-core fans who enjoy the nostalgic winks, the meta nods, while the general public starts to look elsewhere for its entertainment.
As for fans like me, who wants story and character to go along with the in-jokes and arcana, the result can be torture. We feel almost as if a person, someone we love, is being abused and yet helpless to do anything about it.
And so I keep watching (for those of you who have wondered): because I care, even though my caring has been so painful, so often, these past three years.
I'm sad to say that "The Time of the Doctor" was not what I was hoping to get for Christmas. Far from it. So be warned: My review is long, spoilerific, and laced with venom and vitriol (though also, I fancy, sweetened with a strong dose of pure Canadian maple syrup. And pictures. And arguably one paranoid fantasy).
5th December 2013
ed_rex @ : Review: The Day of the Doctor
Flawed redemption still a happy anniversary
It was 1978 or 1979. I was in grade 8 and quite liked my home-room teacher. Mr. Pritchard also liked me, the bright, nerdly kid who had made the school's "newspaper" his own, contributing articles, editorials, cartoons — and (yes) even reviews.
One afternoon after class, as I watched over the Gestetner machine chunking out its blue mimeo pages and Mr. Pritchard watched over me, I mentioned I was looking forward to Saturday, when another episode of Doctor Who, this British television program I'd recently discovered, was going to be broadcast, right before the hockey game.
Mr. Pritchard looked up and laughed, his moustache bristling his delight. "Really!" he said, "Is that still on the air? I used to watch it when I was your age!" He was probably about 30 then, meaning I had barely been born when he was my age!
Learning of that long continuity delighted me as much as — and maybe more than — it did Mr. Pritchard. And now that 15 years of the program's history has become 50, and my personal continuity with it is twice what my teacher's was, the fact that Doctor Who is still on the air delights me even more.
All of which makes me doubly-pleased that the program's 50th anniversary episode, "The Day of the Doctor", exceeded my (admittedly, low) expectations by a wide margin. While not without some significant flaws, Steven Moffat's long-awaited 2013 series finale (of sorts; the upcoming Christmas special will probably mark the real series end, as well as the transition to the next) was a well-crafted entertainment, that balanced humour, drama and nostalgia and, even, pathos, without getting bogged down by the Enormous Anniversariness of it all.
Though some nonsensical elements demonstrated yet again Moffat's tendency to confuse plot with story and maguffin with plot, structurally, "The Day of the Doctor" was a happy anniversary present for this jaded and weary viewer.
Certainly it was the most entertaining multi-Doctor special to come down the pike since, well, forever. I really did laugh and I really did cry, on both first and second viewings — and it's been quite a while since a Moffat-scripted episode of Doctor Who hit me like that.
As usual, my full review is liberal with spoilers. And yes, I spend quite a lot of time exploring those "significant flaws". If you don't want your pleasure challenged, I recommend staying away; if you want in read on click here for The Day of the Doctor: The Bad, the Good, and the Meta.
22nd November 2013
ed_rex @ : Reviews: The Name of the Doctor/The Night of the Doctor
The Night Before the Day of the Doctor
Resurgence of hope?
Doctor Who returns tomorrow, in yet another special, this one to be simulcast all over the world, the better to prevent the spilling of spoilers before their time.
Do I sound cynical? Those (few) of you who have been wondering what happened to my long-promised review of "The Name of The Doctor", first broadcast last spring, might well expect me to be.
I won't disappoint you: I still am.
But I ran across a bit of a surprise a couple of nights back, in the form of an eight-minute (mini) episode called "The Night of the Doctor." I don't suppose many of you reading this are still in the dark about it, but just in case, I'll offer no details here. Beware the spoilers that lurk in my review!
The surprising pleasure I received from the above-noted short film, saw my cynicism tempered, a little, by hope that this Saturday's long-awaited extravaganza might also surprise me. That hope saw me finally re-visit last spring's ostensible finale, "The Name of the Doctor" — and, yes, to also finally review it. That review is behind this cut. Spoilers, of course, and also a return to much wailing and gnashing of critical teeth. You've been warned on both counts.
18th November 2013
jpgr @ : Big Time Who Sale
In anticipation of possible downsizing, I am selling of my collection of Doctor Who books collected over 30 years. It includes:
Virgin Missing Adventures
Virgin New Adventures
BBC Past Doctor Adventures
BBC Eighth Doctor Adventures
BBC New Series Adventures
If you're interested, please PM me with your email and I will send the list in an Excel spreadsheet.
19th October 2013
scifiangel @ : Scifiangel Eleven Doctors-manips (PG-13)
All Eleven Doctors, three versions of the Master, and two versions of Jack Harkness, as well as an assortment of companions old and new.Rating:
I don't own our lovely boys. They belong to the BBC. I make no money from this, much to my sorrow. Full disclaimer under cut.Author's notes:
I've been doing a lot of manips for the 11 Doctors special I've been working on with beachy_geek
It's a tour de farce featuring all Eleven Doctors, three versions of the Master, and two versions of Jack Harkness, as well as an assortment of companions old and new. We've been working on it for almost a year and posting it since March. It's finally finished and the last chapter posted. It can be found here: 11 Doctors
Anyway, I wanted to post some of my manips from it for all to enjoy.11 Doctors
12th October 2013
chasepan @ : A Third Doctor tribute: Doctor Who, Jesse and Jeremy 130
Who, Jesse and Jeremy - Chatper 130--a loving Third Doctor tribute http://www.whofic.com/viewstory.php?sid=4986&warning=Adult
Doctor Who, Jesse, and Jeremy 130: http://www.whofic.com/viewstory.php?sid=4986&chapter=128
The Doctor has degenerated backward into his Third Doctor body. He has to enter the Matrix to rescue the kidnapped Jesse and Jeremy. Within he finds an Anime Doctor, himself cast as the Master, and a big bold UNIT vs the Monsters in the Alps adventure!
This Chapter: Rated R (Mature)
Doctor/Nick Hoult Master/Jesse/Jeremy
Features: UNIT, the Master, Engin, Spandrell,
4th June 2013
murkyfragments @ : Music Video: Light 'Em Up 9-10-11
Light 'Em Up 9-10-11Music:
My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light 'Em Up) by Fall Out BoyMade by:
murkyfragments (although my Youtube account name is crOwnlEssG)Details:
Series 1 to 7Notes:
This is my first ever fanvideo... so yaaay!Link: here
16th May 2013
ed_rex @ : Review: Nightmare in Silver
Nightmare In Tedium
Neil Gaiman channels Stephen Thompson
(Which is never a good thing)
On more than one occasion, the writer Harlan Ellsion insisted his name be removed from a movie or television program and replaced with that of Cordwainer Bird in place of his own. He did it when he believed his script had been butchered: changed to the point where the on-screen result would in some way make him look bad. It was his way of "flipping the bird" at those who had ruined his work and, more, of protecting his own reputation as a screen-writer.
If Neil Gaiman doesn't have a pseudonym for similar circumstances, he should get one — and apply it retroactively to his sophomore entry as a screen-writer for Doctor Who.
"Nightmare in Silver" isn't the worst episode of this year's often-dreadful half-series (far from it) but it isn't very good, either.
It is almost inconceivable that the the writer of "The Doctor's Wife" (not to mention of the Sandman graphic novels) could have handed in a script as dramatically disjointed, as illogical and as frankly boring, as that which showed up on our television screens this past weekend. And surely, it wasn't Neil Gaiman who closed the episode with the appalling spectacle of the Doctor almost literally drooling as he ponders the sight of Clara in a skirt just "a little bit too tight".
A nightmare in silver? More like pewter, or even tin. Spoilers and snark, as usual.
12th May 2013
ed_rex @ : Review: The Crimson Horror
Patterns of abuse
(I know, this is coming awfully late; I've got "Nightmare in Silver" queued up now. Hopefully, that will result in both a more timely and a more positive response. But for now ...)
I know a lot of you enjoyed "The Crimson Horror" and, in comparison to the previous week's travesty, you had every right to.
Nevertheless, what you enjoyed was still pretty lousy television and I guarantee that, unless you make a real study of it, you won't remember a damned thing about it a year from now.
Don't believe me?
Read "Carry On Up the Tardis!" to find out why it was the idea of "The Crimson Horror" you liked, and not the show itself.
As usual, both plot- and fun-spoilers abound, so enter at your own risk.
4th May 2013
ed_rex @ : Review: Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS
The contempt of the show-runner
An insult. A slap in the face. Or should I say, another insult, another slap in the face?
What more is there to say? The whole of Steven Moffat's Doctor Who has been a long series of insults dressed up as Big Ideas, punctuated by apologies from the likes of Richard Curtis and Neil Gaiman.
But how long can we point to "Vincent and the Doctor" or "The Doctor's Wife" and tell ourselves that Steven Moffat actually cares about the cultural institution in his charge?
The truth is, we have become so used to terrible television that when the merely mediocre happens along, people like me nearly start preaching the second coming.
It's time we face the truth: Steven Moffat holds us, his audience, in utter contempt. Take as Exhibit 37, the latest mess of a program broadcast under the name of Doctor Who.
"Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS" begins with an implausible and arbitrary set-up and is propelled by a plot that works only through the unlikely stupidity of its guest characters, the even more unlikely (and dumb) decisions of its regulars and a resolution that re-uses — yet again! — one of Moffat's now tired and tiresome time-travel tropes — and which then cheats on its own rules. The BBC brain-trust ought to be ashamed to have allowed it to air.
My full review is behind this link, but be warned: I am not happy and sometimes I say so in language unfit for ears of the young and tender, or for eyes of work-mates reading over one's shoulder. Also, there are spoilers, as per normal.
Finally, if you want to suggest that I hate this show so much I shouldn't be reviewing it, you may be right. But I committed myself to seeing Series 7 through to the end, and so I will. But after that? If Steven Moffat is still in charge, I rather suspect I'll be done with the show for the duration. Those of you as sick of my opinions as I am sick of Steven Moffat's stories probably have more reason for hope than I do.
22nd April 2013
ed_rex @ : Doctor Who: Hide, reviewed
Of ghosts, of monsters, of hockey teams
A fan's faith, reborn
April 22, 2013, OTTAWA — I grew up during the 1970s and was a fan of the Montreal Canadiens (a professional (ice) hockey team, the only sport that really matters in Canada). The 1970s was a good decade to cheer for the "Habs"; les glorieux won the Stanley Cup in 10 of the first 14 years of my life.
Since then, they have drunk from that sacred Cup but twice, a bitter drought for those loyal followers who yet wave the bleu, blanc et rouge and who, each autumn, dream again the following spring will see a return to glory at last.
Saturday's episode of Doctor Who, "Hide", felt almost like I had (yes) been transported back in time and in space, to the Montreal Forum on the evening of May 21, 1979, to witness my team's 4th Stanley Cup victory in a row.
All right, I exaggerate. One episode does not a championship make. And maybe the metaphor doesn't entirely make sense. But neither, often, does logic in Doctor Who. So (as an American might say), sue me.
The conceit feels right to me — and besides, when was the last time someone discussed hockey and Doctor Who in the same place?
Point is, for this fan, the last few years following the Doctor has felt a lot like watching the Montreal Canadiens lose hockey games. The uniforms look more or less the same, and there's still a lot of travel involved, but victories are few and far between.
"Hide" was one of those victories. And a victory so convincing, this fan suddenly feels those naive hopes of a championship springing like wheat from an arid field. Click here to find out why. Far fewer spoilers than usual.
20th April 2013
ed_rex @ : Review: The Cold War
"The Cold War" weds mediocrity with subtle brilliance
Jenna-Louise Coleman becoming a revelation
Late again, I know. Life and an episode of back-aches has kept me busy.
And more, I found it hard to find my focus on this episode. An entertaining tale on the surface, dig just a little bit and you find in the Mark Gatiss-penned "The Cold War" only another stop on Steven Moffat's Travelling Medicine Show of Intellectual Horrors.
An idiot plot, in other words.
But there was an upside, beyond the mere fact this episode made for the second in a row that managed at least to be an entertaining distraction on first viewing. That is, that Jenna-Louise Coleman is starting to look like the best regular actor to grace this series since maybe as far back as Christopher Eccleson's turn as the Ninth Doctor, and certainly since Catherine Tate played Donna Noble.
I know, I know, it's early days, and so I stand to be corrected, but so far Coleman is doing remarkable things with often ludicrous material. "Click here to read more, and to watch a video aide. Spoilers, as always. Links to my Series 7 reviews can be found at Edifice Rex Online.
12th April 2013
ed_rex @ : The Rings of Akhaten reviewed
The Rings of Akhaten" is solid Doctor Who
Decent space opera fun is welcome tonic in a dismal era
I really enjoyed this episode on my first viewing and, despite hearing from some quarters that it was awful — worse even than "The Bells of Saint John" — I liked it well enough the second time 'round, too. But then I've always had a preference for off-Earth adventures and have a fondness for space stations, so possibly I cut it more slack than I otherwise might.
In any case, "The Rings of Akhaten" suffers from special effects more ambitious than successful and, maybe, from a script that was cut down hard to make a two-part story into a single episode, but still managed some decent space opera fun, a welcome dollop of secular-humanist scepticism courtesy of the Doctor and our first chance to get to know Clara Oswald as more than just a mystery with a fetching smile, but as a genuine character.
For my full review, visit "Good news from the Rings, someplace (almost) awesome". Spoilers as per usual.
6th April 2013
ed_rex @ : A week late: The Bells of Saint John reviewed
"The Bells of Saint John" entertains, but fails in the details
|Clara meets the TARDIS. Screenshot, contents copyright © BBC.|
What is it with Steven Moffat and passivity as drama? It isn't just women in refrigerators or women happy to have been bounced back in time to live out their lives in a previous century, now it is the Doctor himself, literally waiting for the phone to ring in order to get our story started.
Passivity is looking less and less like unconscious misogyny and more like the mark of a writer unable to think of a more creative way to get to the parts of the story he thinks are "cool". Many have noted his treatment of women, but it seems a trope he uses to the point of exhaustion. Rory Williams anyone? And now the Doctor ...
In the opener for Series 7 (Er, 7.5, I guess), we're treated to the conceit that the Doctor has decided the best way to find someone is to hide away in a 13th century monastery and hope she comes to him. That it works is a given, else there'd be no story, but it's a pretty inane way to get things started.
Not that I didn't enjoy "The Bells of Saint John"; I did — at least, on first go-round. For a bit of a wonder, Moffat's script moved along at a good clip and offered some tension and humour. But on second viewing, the story didn't make a whole lot of sense, which leaves me less than confident about the rest of this year's series.
My my full review, please see The Mad Monk meets the Lazy Writer (beware of spoilers!).
13th March 2013
ed_rex @ : The last words of Elisabeth Sladen
Speaking ill of the dead
Elisabeth Sladen: the autobiography
Like many North American of a certain age, my introduction to Doctor Who was haphazard at best. The first episode I remember seeing was Robots of Death, in which Louise Jameson's Leela was the companion, not Elisabeth Sladen's Sarah Jane Smith.
Nevertheless, TV Ontario sooner or later broadcast at least a few of the Sarah Jane serials, and the buttoned-down young journalist joined the half-naked savage as my favourites among the Doctor's companions.
So I was very much part of the target audience when Sarah Jane returned to Doctor Who in the (revived) series' second season episode, "School Reunion". That production managed to please both old fans and new, so much so that Sladen's return spawned a spin-off, The Sarah Jane Adventures, a children's program that often managed to be quite a bit better than its big brother.
The Sarah Jane Adventures featured Sladen as its alien-fighting principal, a woman in her seventh decade who was nevertheless forever running down corridors, hopping fences and facing down monsters, even as she played reluctant mentor and den mother to her teenage co-stars. Sarah Jane Smith was so credible as a paragon of courage and intelligence that one longed to believe those traits reflected the performer as much as they did her writers.
Fan of both Sarah Jane Smith's first and third incarnations (even Sladen quite rightly acknowledges the failure of her second, in the early 1980s), I am clearly also part of the target audience for Sladen's memoir. And so it was I impatiently waited for a Canadian release of Sladen's autobiography, completed just a few months before her surprising and terribly untimely death from cancer in 2011.
Sadly, the contents between the frankly dated and cheap-looking covers pretty accurately reflect the contents of the book itself.
Though the autobiography does not stoop to gossip or cheap score-settling, neither does it offer much insight into acting; into what it was like being a feminist icon of sorts; or into Sladen's life. Those hoping for more than some amusing anecdotes about working with Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker will find in this book some tasty snacks, but nothing remotely like a full meal.
My full review is at my site, ed-rex.com.