Posts Tagged ‘John Hurt’

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Doctor Who- Day of the Doctor Review

January 8, 2014

Due to work commitments and scheduling, I won’t have as much time to writing blog entries celebrating the action adventure, science fiction, fantasy, anime, video game, nerdy, geeky stuff that I love. I am going to try and get as much adventure watching as I can and comment on all those fantastic things that we all come to love and enjoy. For now, I hope to write at least every other week on something that I have recently watched or am rewatching for the millionth time.

To start off this year, I watched two “Doctor Who” episodes. I did not want to venture outside as I was also a bit under the weather. So I watched these episodes with great interest and happiness.

“Doctor Who” has reached a milestone as one of the longest running TV shows ever broadcast. Sure there’s a long 16 year gap, where there wasn’t any live action shows, but like “Star Trek,” it remained popular through repeats and other media, like radio and books.

This passing year marked the 50th Anniversary of its debut. A time traveling fantasy showcasing history, science fiction, and drama, it was meant to be an entertaining children’s show. It has exceeded this and has become a world-wide phenomenon.

“Day of the Doctor” marks the time traveling Doctor worst day, and how he manages to change this with the help of the past, present, and future selves. It can be a little confusing, or ‘timey whimey’ to follow, but it is a satisfactory yarn that I wish was a little bit longer, more grand, and epic. Not that it wasn’t, I wanted it to be bigger than it was.

John Hurt plays the “War Doctor” during the time in the Doctor’s life where he fought for Gallifrey against the Daleks in the Time War. It was he who was responsible for the destruction of Gallifrey and all of its people, along with the Daleks. He carried this horrible responsibility and memory for a long time.

For the present incarnation of the Doctor as portrayed by Matt Smith, he reunites with his “Impossible Girl” companion Clara Oswald (Jenna Coleman) for another adventure, when they are suddenly taken by UNIT (Unified Intelligence Taskforce) led by Kate Lethbridge-Stewart (Jemma Redgrave), daughter of the Doctor’s friend Brigadier Allistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart. They are asked to investigate a strange issue at the National Gallery. The Doctor’s ship, the TARDIS, is air lifted by helicopter to Trafalgar Square, with him and Clara in it.

At the National Gallery, they are presented artifacts belonging to Elizabeth I, who put the Doctor in charge of the Undergallery, a stash of relics that she deemed too dangerous for public consumption. This includes a three dimensional painting of Gallifrey’s  city of Arcadia. This depiction is of the last day of the Time War where the planet was destroyed by the Daleks.

Kate brings the Doctor to view other three dimensional paintings, where apparently something escaped from the painting. The Doctor was analyzing the mystery at hand when a time vortex appears in the room. The Doctor becomes frustrated at the sudden appearance of the vortex, recalling the events that lead to it, and tosses a reclaimed fez into the vortex, then following shortly after.

Meanwhile, back in time, the Tenth Doctor (David Tennant) romanced Elizabeth I (Joanna Page), believing she was in fact a shapeshifting alien known as a Zygon. Instead it proved to be his horse that was the alien. While trying to elude the Zygon, the Doctor encounters a pair of Elizabeths.

While trying to figure out who the real Elizabeth is, a fez comes through the time vortex that appears before them. Shortly afterwards, the Eleventh Doctor appears. The two Doctors trade pleasantries as they come to realize who they both are. They dismiss the Elizabeths in order to solve the puzzle of why they are together in the same time period. The War Doctor appears, looking for the Doctor.

It turns out that the War Doctor had stolen one of Gallifrey’s most dangerous weapon, “The Moment,” a sentient weapon of mass destruction. The Moment takes on a familiar avatar, the “Bad Wolf Girl” (Billie Piper) who is molded after the Ninth and Tenth’s Doctor’s companion Rose Tyler. She takes the War Doctor on a journey into his future self to see what happens as a result of the decision that he was about to make.

The three Doctors are taken prisoner by the Zygon version of Elizabeth I and imprisoned in the Tower of London. While trying to figure out a way to escape, they bicker amongst themselves on the many issues of their lives. During an idle moment, they figure out a way to do a massive calculation that would deconstruct the prison door.

Meanwhile, Kate and Clara go to the Black Archive, a repository of all the alien technology that has been encountered  and collected that has an association with the Doctor. They hope to use a Vortex Manipulator to send someone back in time to rescue the stranded Doctors.  We also learn that the Zygons are the invading force that had burst out of the paintings through some sort of event. They are massing and are trying to force a takeover of the Black Archive.

Clara manages to escape from the Zygons and rescue the Doctors, noting that the door was unlocked all the time. Elizabeth I turns out to be the real one, manipulating the remaining Zygons to lock themselves away in the stasis cube created three dimensional paintings. After a brief marriage ceremony between Elizabeth I and the Tenth Doctor, the Doctors and Clara return to the future to stop the invading Zygon forces taking over the Black Archive and threatening humanity.

After seeing the results of his actions, the War Doctor travels back in time to The Moment, and plans to set off the device. The Tenth and Eleventh Doctors appear planning to help him shoulder the burden. Clara is disheartened by their planned action, noting that she could not imagine her dear Eleventh could hold the immense responsibility.

This sparks a defiant moment for the Doctors, noting that they still have a chance to change the future. They formulate an audacious plan that has little chance of success, the alternative being no better. The plan is to be carried out by all thirteen versions of the Doctor.

This is by far a fantastic story of redemption for the War Doctor. John Hurt is both fatherly and hilarious, scolding his younger selves as well as still being curious and thoughtful. David Tennant and Matt Smith are a perfect pairing, playing off of each other’s characterization of the Doctor. Smith portrays him as a wily animated sort, while Tennant is both laid back and fierce. They riff off each other’s lines like musicians, both raising each other’s performances.

The story can be a little confusing- it’s a time travel show- but if you pay attention to the story and follow along as the characters explain the events that are occurring, it won’t seem overwhelming. The show does succeed in bringing all thirteen versions of the Doctor into play, although only briefly, and the way it is done is truly exciting. I wish some of the other Doctors could have interacted together in some way, but that would have been very difficult.

Having been a newly anointed Doctor Who fan, I found this hotly anticipated anniversary episode to be everything it set out to do. I only wished there was even more to it. Something to make it more beefier. I wanted it to go on even longer. At the end I hoped it blossomed into even more adventures, and in a way it does. It makes you want to see all the different adventures. With fifty years worth of television, film, radio, and other media, it’ll leave you wanting more.

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Doctor Who- Day of the Doctor

November 23, 2013

Spoilers.

As of this writing, in just a few hours, the BBC will be broadcasting the 50th Anniversary episode of this classic TV series. It is a huge milestone for any television series. I may not be able to watch it until it comes out on DVD.

Crap.

I quickly became a newly minted Whovian after watching a near marathon session of Doctor Who episodes to see what the fuss was all about. I found the stories to be charming, brilliant, mash-ups of science fiction, fantasy, history, and other bits of wibbly wobbly timey whimey stuff. The acting has been superb, with David Tennant and Matt Smith inhabiting the role of the Doctor. All the episodes that I have been able to watch shows great storytelling, and grand adventures.

The only other television show that I know of that has survived  nearly as long with such a huge following is ‘Star Trek.” They share several similarities in how the series survived and remains a tent pole in pop culture. “Star Trek” survived its initial cancellation thanks to syndicated television. It branched out into other media, movies, and spinoff TV series. “Doctor Who” also flourished in reruns and branched out into media like radio and animation. There were some spin off TV shows as well set in the same world as “Doctor Who.” There was a gap of time when the series was not being shown on TV, leaving fans disheartened that the series may never be revived. That gap lasted about 16 years until a new team bought the show into the new millennium, and with the success of the new series, it has led to this.

This hotly anticipated episode has been shrouded in secrecy, with little or no details being released until these last few weeks before the premiere. This includes the trailers for the episode, some shorts that leave several clues in the story, and some snippets of the episode itself. The trailers have been just as puzzling, showing a jumble of scenes explaining next to nothing about the overall story, only that it brings two of the incarnations of the Doctor together to render aid to the unknown one who was not worthy of the name of the Doctor.

This is a stellar event, having two of the most popular actors that have played the Doctor share the same episode. From the trailers and the bits of interviews that the two have shared, they have gotten along smashingly and had a grand time with this episode. I am a little disappointed that the other Doctors have not been announced as appearing in the episode.

Of course, that’s a big gray area.

Paul McGann, who played the Doctor in the 1996 movie, made an appearance in one of the short prequels for this episode, which shows him becoming the War Doctor. If this is any indication on what we can expect from this episode, many fans will be delighted with the story. I do hope it will be filled with surprises. I hope I am able to watch it.

Crap.

John Hurt plays the one who betrays the name of the Doctor. In Season 7’s cliffhanger of an ending, we see the Doctor enter his own timestream to rescue his companion, “The Impossible Girl” Clara Oswald. She had risked her life to save the Doctor from The Great Intelligence, a psychic entity that had a long grudge with the Doctor, and vowed to destroy him.

In leaping into his own timestream, the Doctor encounters many versions of himself, which Clara sees. There was one, who lurks like a shadow, which gave the Doctor pause. It was revealed to be one who seems to have committed atrocities that went against his principles. It was then revealed that it was the Doctor as played by John Hurt.

Whoa.

I’ve watched the episode repeatedly and am impressed with the story leading up to this. The Doctor must confront a part of his past that seems to be affecting other parts of his timeline, thus meeting the 10th and 11th versions of him. And what does his cherished companion Rose Tyler have to do with this episode? Will we see River Song show up? And will other versions of the Doctor appear? I can’t wait to see this episode! Are they going to stream it? Or do I have to subscribe to cable and get BBC America to tune in?

Crap.

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The New Doctor Who

August 10, 2013

Actor Peter Capaldi, as he appeared in the "Doctor Who" episode "The Fires of Pompeii."

Actor Peter Capaldi, as he appeared in the “Doctor Who” episode “The Fires of Pompeii.”

I am slowly becoming a “Whovian.” This is not in reference to a Doctor Seuss book, or a misspelling of hooligan. A “Whovian” is a fan of “Doctor Who.” I am almost a card carrying member, with sonic screwdriver in hand. (Yes, I have one. I’m saving up for a light saber next.) I have been watching the modern series for quite some time now.

For those not in the know, “ Doctor Who” is about the adventures of a time travelling alien and human companions who go through the universe in space and time, having grand adventures and saving our world and many others. The Doctor, as he is known is Gallifreyan or a Time Lord, the last of his kind. He went off to explore the universe in a stolen, sentient, time machine known as the TARDIS- a phone booth shaped ship that is bigger on the inside. No, really.

This series was introduced to me by my nephew and sister who had become fans of this show. I had been interested in the show for some time, but never got into watching the series until recently. I have now watched many episodes of the current series intently. Among my favorites are “The Pandorica Opens,” and “The Big Bang” from Series 5. Lots of time travel and rebooting of the universe. No, really.

What has kept me watching is the sharply written series. The stories are rich and complex, with elements that tie different episodes together. They tell an elaborate tale along a certain path, which may jump back to another part, explaining how and why this happens. As the Doctor would say, “Time Travel- sometimes it’s hard to keep things straight in your head.” The many adventures and the lead ins into the next adventure are exciting and fascinating. Maybe just a little confusing.

There is a feature built into the series that has helped it last for its fifty years. Gallifreyans are nearly immortal- when they become severely injured, they can regenerate into a new form. They literally become a new person with a new personality, but retain the thoughts and memories of the previous incarnations. This feature had allowed different actors to assume the role during the life of the show.

There has been several fantastic actors portraying the Doctor in this recent set of series. Starting off with Christopher Eccleston as the Ninth Doctor, and then the superb David Tennant as the Tenth Doctor. In all there have been eleven actors who have portrayed the Doctor.

The current actor playing the Doctor, Matt Smith, is stepping down from the role in the next series, leaving at the midway point marked as the Christmas special. Smith has proven to be one of the most popular Doctors ever, with his quick witted banter, physical nuances, and charm. He makes the Doctor highly animated, a little agitated, and gives him both authority and aplomb in any given situation, along with child like wonder and curiosity. He gives the Doctor’s anger, sadness, loneliness, curiosity, and happiness with deft strokes. He is manically happy and curious, yet can command a fleet of starships to stand down because he is talking.

The BBC (British Broadcasting Company to you and I) have announce Matt Smith’s replacement. Peter Capaldi is a veteran TV and film actor, appearing in dozens of movies and television series. I am not at all familiar with his work, but have seen one of the movies he has appeared in, “Lair of the White Worm” al oooong time ago in a sleepy horror movie night.

I am excited to see how he handles the role of “a madman with a box.” Each series builds up to an exciting storyline, which mixes in information from past episodes, if not overlap past and future episodes. They are exciting and thrilling in scope. Some storylines are epic in nature, spanning across the series. I want to see how he becomes the next incarnation, and how he may be connected to the mysterious version of the Doctor, seen at the end of the finale of Series 7, “The Name of the Doctor,” portrayed by John Hurt.

Series 8 is leading towards a confrontation with a mysterious aspect of the Doctor’s past (or is it future?). While Capaldi will be jumping on halfway through the series, he is going to be connected to the previous events and their consequences. He’ll be carrying on with the story, bringing his experience and his characterization of our favorite Time Lord. While I am sad to see Matt Smith go (and rather angry with how his companions Amy and Rory were ‘killed off’ in series 7) I am excited about the next adventure where we learn about an aspect of the Doctor.