Into the Dalek – Doctor Who Explained

Good Dalek[This post is of a series: Doctor Who Explained. It's the third installment. Read the prior one's here!]

The Doctor has several enemies but none can rival, the Daleks.

At first glance, they look more docile then threatening with their plunger arm and motorized wheelchair speed. But its the psyche of the Daleks that’s frightening.

Daleks only experience hatred and are powered by fear. The fear of what they can do to every being in the universe. Their mission is to purge the every planet of life. As they wage war upon the worlds, people resist, people fight, but most of all people fear. Which in turn fuels the Dalek’s existence. Met by fierce opposition from all armies but none have succeeded in defeating the Daleks.
Except the Doctor.

Within the show, the Daleks have been a foe from the very beginning. The Doctor has faced them single handled through duels, world wars, muses, and traps. But the epitome of them all, the Time War. Every routine scenario has been played out so the only place left to go is into the Daleks. Literally.

And doing so aides the first time viewer, we get to see what makes a Dalek. Why are they nothing but hate and how do they strike fear into every living soul? As we follow the Doctor we see that a Dalek is a small creature infused within a metal case of destruction. It’s part alien, part machine. It’s hard drive stores everything that it has experienced yet only allows anger, fear, and hatred to be felt.

[This next bit will make the most sense if you have watched the second episode of Season 8. Entitled: Into the Dalek. Go watch it on Hulu Plus or Amazon Prime, I’ll wait for ya! SPOILERS!]

As the episode starts I am pleasantly surprised by how fresh and polished it feels. From the 2005 reboot the production value has increased immensely. Sure, sets are recycled & CGI has crept into everything but Doctor Who’s storytelling has matured well.

As the Doctor confronts Rusty, the Dalek, his distain for his race is evident. So when he discovers that Rusty is good, he is beside himself.
The mystery of finding a “good Dalek” mirrors the Doctor’s pursuit to find the “good Doctor.” This theme is embossed by the Doctor’s question., “Am I a good man?”

So as the Doctor goes on this Dalek safari, the Doctor’s mind is preoccupied by something deeper than just curing a helpless patient. Once again, as the Doctor figures out who he truly is, so do we! I found his cutting words and harshness unflattering. Yet Clara stands beside him, being a “pal” as best she can.

Anticlimactic is an understatement when the Doctor “heals” Rusty only halfway through the runtime of the episode. So as Rusty returns to his “normal” destructive self, I rejoiced. And ironically, so did the Doctor. I thought that as the arch-enemy of the Doctor returned, he would valiantly destroy it. Instead, the Doctor just gave up, slumped his shoulders and retreated into his own mind.

“He is lost in the ruin of himself, and we must bring him home” came to mind as I watched this 12th Doctor not live up to The Doctor’s true nature. The Doctor always questions logic and endlessly redefines time. But apparently not with this one.

Clara’s swift slap to the Doctor’s face surprised me but even more so the Doctor, himself. He’s always aware of his surroundings and knows what’s coming. But not this. He’s perplexed. Clara mocks the Doctor with questions. Is that all? Is that all we learned today? Dalek’s will always be bad, and that’s it? As she goes on you can tell that for once she has it figured out before the Doctor does and is begging him to catch up. (But only in Clara’s fierce yet flirty way!) The Doctor’s gears begin to turn and within a blink, the Doctor is back!

Instead of seeing all Daleks as fixed beings in time, unable to change or grow, the Doctor finally sees Rusty’s unique potential! Joining minds with him, the Doctor shows Rusty true beauty. Just as he does, the plan backfires as Rusty discovers the Doctor’s own hatred. His instilled hatred of the Dalek race mirrors Rusty’s hatred for every race. The Doctor himself is a Dalek in nature. Fueled by the fear of an alien race, desiring to obliterate them from the universe. This is what makes the Doctor a “good Dalek.”

For the Doctor, this victory isn’t celebrated. He is just left back where he started. Asking himself, “Am I a good man?”

 

For me, I am still pondering on that one as well as:

  1. What is Paradise?
  2. Who is Missy? (a crazed Mary Poppins?)
  3. What’s the Doctor’s catch phrase?

I am still just as confused and intrigued as ever!

Let me know what you thought of the first episode: Deep Breath. What questions do you have that are left unanswered? And what parts of the Doctor do you wish to know more about?

Deep Breath – Doctor Who Explained

you don't see me

[This post is of a series: Doctor Who Explained. It's the second installment. Read the first, here!]

Doctor Who in it’s simplest form is about a time traveling alien that guards the plant Earth from all evil in time & space. From there it winds into a complex web of rules & exceptions to the rules. But the bare facts are, The Doctor:

  1. is a species of alien that looks human but isn’t
  2. has two hearts
  3. has lived for close to 2000 years
  4. refuses to use violence to solve the dilemmas he encounters
  5. takes a human companion (or several) with him on his adventures

The show has it’s own unique story. It began in the 1950s as a children’s show. It continued to be aired until the 80s then was rebooted in 2005. Each season is a continuation of the prior. The character, “The Doctor” is the same one from the 1950s even though the actor has changed. Each time an actor has completed his tenure as playing the Doctor, he is killed off. But since the Doctor has two hearts, one dies while the other revives him. Presto! The Doctor regenerates into a new body, and in turn a new actor. A new actor playing the 5o year old role of the Doctor. Now take some time for all that to soak in…

That being true the Doctor that we watch has everything of the past 12 Doctors. The experiences, the knowledge, the disappointments, the victories, EVERYTHING!
No where else in literature & story have I found such a compounded & complex character.

If you feel like you are in over your head with all this, it’s because you are! And I am too! There is too much to comprehend about the show Doctor Who as well as the character of the Doctor. And that’s what draws me to it. The complexity of it all! So forge ahead with me into this wibby-wobbly-timey-wimey mess of a show. Together we’ll make as much sense of it as we can.

(This next bit will make the most sense if you have watched the first episode of Season 8. Entitled: Deep Breath. Go watch it on Hulu Plus or Amazon Prime, I’ll wait for ya! SPOILERS AHEAD!)

With the start of Season 8 we are all met by a new Doctor. So when this Doctor comes on the scene with a big “SHUSH” to Strax (the potato looking alien) its a surprise to everyone. Fans & characters alike. So, when Clara, the Doctor’s companion, wishes to fix the Doctor, to “turn him back,” we all sympathize. Even the Doctor himself has remorse towards choosing “this face.” Yet he’s the first to try and figure out why he has chosen such a face (with “attack eyebrows.”) It’s a search for the true identity of the Doctor.

This theme is beautifully sewn in and out of the episode. On the surface, questions are asked of why this elderly face but under the surface questions are asked of where is the true nature of the Doctor. The Doctor has had twelve prior bodies to this one, but the same personality has come out through each of them. Clara, his friends, the world, and us the fans are all searching for what makes the Doctor, THE DOCTOR! His quirks, his mannerisms, his wittiness, his demeanor, his moral code, his drive, his essence. And it’s dizzying to watch the characters find out him out just as we are trying to find out him out.

So if the pursuit of the true identity of the Doctor is this big ball of grey, the black & white of him reveal themselves with just as much grandeur. Most notably the line of “The Doctor has taken the case” plays to the Doctor’s curiosity to get to the bottom of everything. And from there, the Doctor we all know and love comes through. With witty dialogue & mannerisms to being a couple steps ahead & also just as lost: The Doctor is back!

But even after the Doctor saves the day in his typical fashion, Clara still walks out on him. Just as she does, she receives a phone call from the Doctor. The Doctor that she knows & loves, the Doctor prior to this one. He is speaking to her from the past, urging her to help the new Doctor and not to be afraid. This scene pulls several heart strings but  it’s message stands out.

We can’t remain in the past, wishing & hoping for the already gone. We must not fear. We must press on. Even if the people we have pressed on with are different.

 

Even with the conclusion of the episode, there is plenty more to figure out and get confused upon. Here’s a couple of questions I’m asking:

  1. What is Paradise?
  2. Did the Doctor actually push the Droid out?
  3. Who is Missy?
  4. What is this Doctor’s catch phrase? (Every Doctor has a catch phrase!)

Even watching all the episodes prior to this one, I am still asking myself these questions. And you may have many more! That is great! Doctor Who is a show of questions & impossibilities. Revel in them and hope that all will be answered.

Let me know what you thought of the first episode: Deep Breath. What questions do you have that are left unanswered? And what parts of the Doctor do you wish to know more about?

Doctor Who Explained

Doctor Who LogoI am finding that I stand in the rift between several fandoms and the everyday world. Speciality Coffee, VGHS, and Fixies just to name a few. But one fandom baffles (or excites) the most. Doctor Who.

I am a Doctor Who fan, or as some would say “Whovian.” A friend of mine helped me make the leap and I’ve never looked back. I’m hooked. I now have seen all of the Doctor Who reboot seasons, I own several pieces of Doctor Who apparel and I incorporate the Doctor’s witty dialogue into everyday speech. And as you read this you are either becoming excited or you are becoming disgusted. BOTH OF THESE REACTIONS ARE FASCINATING. Which brings us back to the reason I am writing.

People that have watched Doctor Who (for the most part) enjoy to follow the Doctor around in his adventures and then condemn anyone that doesn’t view the the Doctor in the same regard to Sci-Fi purgatory. On the other hand, people that have not watched Doctor Who (for the most part) don’t get it. And since they don’t get it, they forget about Doctor Who and outcast the “Whovians” never allowing them to partake in everyday amenities like running water & electricity. Okay, that might be too strong but to a degree they both happen. Doctor Who fans have literally (and figuratively) left the Earth behind in their love for the show all the while non-fans roll their eyes in annoyance towards just another serial TV show.

I would like for that to stop. I agree that both sides do have thier faults. But a healthy dosage of Doctor Who and reality would make this planet a better place.

So for next several weeks we will travel between the space-time continuum of fandom and reality. I’ll explain Doctor Who to any curious companion as well as expand upon what I geek out over while watching it. (It’s different then what you think.)

The new season of Doctor Who has just started so I’ll write a post about each episode after it airs. The show airs on BBC America on Saturday Nights at 7:30pm. (DVR it or watch it via AmazonPrime if you can’t find it on cable.) If you’ve never watched Doctor Who, now worries. This IS a perfect time to start. There’s a new Doctor (I’ll explain that later) and everything about him will be explained through-out the season.

Please join me in this journey through time and space. It’s gunna be FANTASTIC!

Here is the master list of all the episodes & their review/explanations:

  1. Deep Breath
  2. Into the Dalek
  3. Robot of Sherwood
  4. Listen
  5. Time Heist
  6. The Caretaker
  7. Kill the Moon
  8. Mummy on the Orient Express
  9. Flatline
  10. In the Forrest of the Night
  11. Dark Water
  12. Death in Heaven

No Coffee

Some of the coffee that I enjoyed on my Feast Days during the season of Lent

Some of the coffee that I enjoyed on the sabbath

For the past month or so I have refrained from drinking coffee. 

This was quite the undertaking for me since I regularly consume four cups a day. I always wondered if it was physically possible for me to give it up, but what actually got me to take the plunge was a Christian tradition called Lent.

Since childhood I have heard that Lent is a time when you stop eating sweets or drinking your favorite soda. And as a child, that sounded awful! I never had a good grasp on the reason for it…possibly just a churchy  endorsement for New Year’s resolutions? It wasn’t until a friend explained it to me, that I saw Lent as good.

The Lent season is the 40 days leading up to Easter, when Christians celebrate Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the dead. During this countdown, you voluntarily give up something that you regularly enjoy (the fancy word is fasting). During Lent, whenever you would  normally partake in that action/thing, you instead focus your attention on Christ & his love for you personally. But, on the sabbath (most commonly Sunday) you take a break and “feast” on the thing that you have refrained from as an act of worship to God, Jesus’s father.

So, here’s how it played out for me: I love coffee, I’m obsessed with it. I enjoyed every bit of it: purchasing it, making it, smelling it, sipping it, chugging it, then repeat! So naturally, coffee seemed like the first choice for my Lenten fast . Every minute I would have normally devoted to coffee, I instead had gaps of empty, quiet space. In those places I began to reflect over life, pray to God, read the Bible, & even take some naps. It surprised me how much time and attention I gave to these little caffeine-infused beans. Without it, I had much more time to worship, create, & rest. It was refreshing to refocus my time and attention on the God’s love for me—and for the world.

Now, by no means is coffee bad!. It’s actually really good for you. But it started to become an addiction in my life. I was not only addicted to the caffeine but also to the coffee-making ritual. It began to be the reason I got out of bed—and a material thing like coffee should never be the reason I get out of bed.—Not saying it can’t help me get out of bed!

The coolest thing about this “no coffee” journey was my sabbath feast. I took time out of my schedule to go to my favorite coffee shoppe & reflect over what I was learning  about myself, my God & others during my fast. Sips from a beautifully crafted cappuccino fueled my journaling. I drank and cherished each beverage more deeply then I would regularly have. It was a great exercise of thanksgiving for everything that came to make each cup of joe, as well as life in general.

My fast from coffee concluded on Easter this past Sunday. Before I joined my family at our local church service, I brewed a cup of coffee. As I drank it, I was reminded of this great truth:

Through an amazing occurrence of events, the Creator of the universe allowed His son to be the punishment for all of the world’s wrong and injustices. Then, He brought him back to life so that the world could also live a restored and full life with God.

So yes, I actually did give up my coffee habit & learned a whole lot about myself and my God who created me—and the great drink that is coffee!

Inside Llewyn Davis

Inside Llewyn DavisThe latest Coen brother’s film, “Inside Llewyn Davis” is not a film for everyone. It’s not soaked in gore, sex, or foul language; the usual reasons to turn people away from seeing movies. (Okay, it does have foul language, but in good taste.) Instead, its not for everyone because it isn’t Hollywood enough. And that is what makes it good.

The Coen brothers capture the essence of the struggling musician. We find Llewyn on the stage, singing with life & passion. Yet, beaten in back alley the next moment. This cycle sets us off on the bobbing that is Llewyn’s reality. As bad luck strikes him, you desire for him to speak up for himself or get over it somehow, yet he does not know how. Until he pulls out his guitar, then the pain, strife, & desires of his life truly come out. You join Llewyn as the struggles of life wash away with each chord & note. The Coen’s enhance this with blurred edges & over muted tones of color throughout the entire film. From time to time, Llewyn seems to find a way up & out, and your helpless not to route for him in this, yet much like a dream he snaps out of it, unwilling to compromise to the polished image & tone that dominated music back then. As we follow Llewyn, we desire that “big break” for him & hope for it just before the credits. But the Coen brothers bring us back to the first song that we saw Llewyn perform. Then the beating in the alley. And leaves us with a taunting track of Bob Dylan as Llewyn picks himself up again. The lack of resolution is fitting for Llewyn’s life. You are left questioning if he ever makes it as artist. And the fact that you ask yourself that question is proof that he already is.

Its not for everyone but Inside Llewyn Davis is for the musician at heart, the folk music fan, & the eccentric movie goer.

Thanks to the Knoxville Film & Music Festival for the advanced screening & to Downtown West Cinema 8 for the theatre.