Sunday, April 30, 2017

Doctor Who: Thin Ice

Writer Sarah Dollard’s first contribution to Doctor Who was last season’s “Face the Raven,” an episode I was lukewarm on, though that had little to do with her script. Dollard was tasked with killing off Clara, yet not really. It was a tough sell because it happened so fast and without fanfare at an odd time of the season, so it was difficult to buy into at a point when believability was necessary. That story and the season would have been better served by dropping the near universally panned “Sleep No More” altogether and giving Dollard an extra episode to flesh out her inventive trap-street universe with a two-part cliffhanger of Clara realizing her impending death. That could have worked much better.

Given free rein to play in the Whoniverse largely edict-free, Dollard delivers a brilliantly cracking yarn in “Thin Ice” with a proper beginning, middle and end. It’s got no narrative gimmicks to weigh down her ideas, all effortlessly accomplished in 45 minutes. Despite being set in 1814, the script has a social conscience about numerous issues that ricochet off the past into the future, reflecting the here and now. This is something that I often crow about new Doctor Who not doing nearly enough of, and Dollard’s hand is so sure and steady that never once does the material come across as preachy.

Read the rest of this recap by clicking here and visiting Vulture.

Graphic courtesy Design by Stuart Manning

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Doctor Who: Smile

Going into “Smile,” I was leery about two things: Emojibots and Frank Cottrell-Boyce’s writing credit. The former because, well, I’m a writer, and like many other writers I cringe at them instinctively. The latter because Cottrell-Boyce’s only other contribution to Doctor Who was season eight’s ambitious failure “In the Forest of the Night,” arguably the weakest offering of that year. Turns out the ‘bots weren’t as annoying as actual emoji and Cottrell-Boyce’s script is an improvement on his previous offering — and yet “Smile” still feels like a mild letdown after all the promise of last week’s season opener.

Bill Potts: “You can’t reach the controls from the seats. What’s the point in that? Or do you have stretchy arms like Mr. Fantastic?”

The opening TARDIS sequence is loaded with the sort of priceless banter that “The Pilot” laid the groundwork for. Bill’s grilling of the Doctor over the seats is especially amusing to anyone who’s been watching this show for the past decade: Why are the seats so far away from the console? (Why are there seats there at all? Nobody ever seems to use them.)

Read the rest of this recap by clicking here and visiting Vulture

Graphic courtesy Design by Stuart Manning

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Doctor Who: The Pilot

Two Christmas specials aside, it’s been a seemingly interminably long wait for new Doctor Who. A guy I know recently asked, “Is that show even still on?,” which cut me deeply. A strong, multi-episodic arc of Time Lord and TARDIS will make things right again, and “The Pilot” is rife with promise of greatness to come. As Steven Moffat-penned scripts go, it is refreshingly lacking in twists and turns, has less plot than a typical offering, and is more a collection of set-ups, ideas, and emotions. There’s a comforting intimacy on display here not often seen in this series, and certainly not in a season premiere.

The first thing that happens in “The Pilot” is the revelation that Nardole (Matt Lucas) is robotic in nature; the noises he makes and the bolt that drops from his body indicate as much. Back in December, his quickie resurrection was one of my few complaints. While it’s difficult to swallow the Doctor reattaching Nardole’s severed head to his body, it is less problematic to imagine that the head could be merged with a new and less cumbersome set of technology than it was previously attached to. Perhaps a few tricks picked up from the Doctor’s many encounters with the Cybermen?

Read the rest of this recap by clicking here and visiting Vulture.

Graphic courtesy Design by Stuart Manning