Listen – Doctor Who Explained

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

There are episodes of Doctor Who that are fun loving but plain (like last week’s episode, Robot in Sherwood.) And then there’s episodes that blow up all expectations. Episode 5, entitled: Listen, does just that.Fear is a superpower

Steven Moffat the current director (show-runner) is known for writing the most intriguing episodes of Doctor Who. So when I saw him as the writer for this episode I was excited. And he did not disappoint.

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

Listen, is an episode that shows how complicated time travel can and should be. Some of Doctor Who’s episodes boil down time travel to simple placement within a story and ignores the implications of every action. Listen, is not such an episode. Its a glimpse into timelines collapsing in on each other and shows the danger of meeting your future and past self.

Not only does time come alive within this episode but the Doctor comes alive as well. Several iconic traits of the past Doctor’s come out within this adventure with the 12th.
One of these traits is the Doctor’s pure joy in discovering the unknown! He is so delighted to make a hypothesis and then prove it. He get’s so wrapped up in the pursuit of discovery that everything else becomes a blur. All smiles, he plunges into anything & everything without fear. The Doctor latest theory, that everyone has feared of something lurking under their bed at night. Like a mad scientist he is driven to near insanity in the pursuit of finding this creature. And when he does, it’s wholly underwhelming.
Every once in a while there’s a moment where compassion & love shines from the Doctor. This is when the Doctor comes alive for me! He becomes the best of everything within the universe. This happens in this episode when He gets eye to eye with a fear driven Rupert and speaks words of encouragement & love into him. The Doctor sees the flame of humanity flickering within Rupert. He comes alongside and stokes it into the all consuming fire that is the human spirit. The never ending, never yielding, uniqueness of being human. This time it is the power that comes from fear! As we fear we are propelled much like a superpower. A superpower that we can only feel & wield. Oh the timing of the Doctor and his deliberate words!

All the while, Clara is driven to her own madness. As they ride her timeline, Clara begins to meet critical people in her past and future. As she sees these points of time unfold, she takes hold of the present, trying to right her wrongs. Which in turn collapses in on itself. Bringing more complexity into the mix, and yet all the while keeping the Doctor in the dark about what is really going on. (I was screaming at Clara to tell the Doctor what’s actually going on!)

And with a last ditch effort to straighten things out, Clara finds herself underneath the bed of a fearful child-timelord. She’s the “creature” under the bed that a fearful adult-timelord is driven mad to discover. Surrendering to defeat, Clara consuls the child with the only words that she knows are true.

“Fear is a superpower. Fear can make you faster and cleverer and stronger… It doesn’t matter if there’s nothing under the bed or in the dark so long as you know it’s okay to be afraid of it… You’re always gonna be afraid even if you learn to hide it. Fear is like a companion, a constant companion, always there. But that’s okay because fear can bring us together. Fear can bring you home.”

 

Holy Smokes! What is happening in this season! Just when I thought I had a grasp of something, it leaves me! Ha! Here’s the list of question that I still have:

  1. Who is Missy?
  2. What’s the Doctor’s catch phrase?
  3. What did the Doctor see at the last planet?

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

Robot of Sherwood – Doctor Who Explained

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

“If you had a time machine where would you go & who would you meet?” It’s a classic imaginative question. Time periods, or specific events might have been suggested but most of the time, people are mentioned. Famous people.Clara & Robin Hood

Doctor Who plays with this every once in a while. Either the Doctor treats his companion to a treat of meeting Shakespeare or He gives them the choice to visit who they want. Agatha Christy, Picasso, Churchill & Dickens have all been visited and its a been a joy to tag along.

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

Within this episode, the Doctor gives the reins over to Clara, to go wherever she wants to go, meet whoever she wants. Her answer takes a turn to the bizarre as she requests to visit the fictitious charter, Robin Hood. To prove that he doesn’t exist the Doctor takes her to that time and is promptly met by the guardian of Sherwood forrest!

The Doctor is thrown into confusion while Clara is loving every minute of it. The Doctor turns on his detective skills, trying to get to the bottom of why Robin Hood actually exists. In his pursuit for the truth the Doctor acts peculiar, he’s starving for attention, bickering with Robin Hood the whole episode. It’s atypical of the Doctor. Through the dialogue between the three, childish charm dominates their speech & actions. So much so that Clara & the Doctor begin to realize that they speak in rhyme & rhythm.

Ironically, a spaceship has taken over the Sherwood township, fueling the legend of Robin Hood to this comical state. It is unclear if Sherwood is real or only a projection. As we prance through this fairy tale it is revealed that a race of robots are using the Sheriff of Nottingham for their own selfish gain. They desire to repair their ship so that they can reach the Promise Land, an actual planet. Swashbuckling and witty dialogue ensue. The story frolics to a happy ending where the Doctor, Clara, & Robin Hood defeat the robots and they live happily ever after.

As custom to historical figures that the Doctor encounters, Robin asks him one question, “Is it true, that I’ll be forgotten as a man but remembered as a legend?”
And as the Doctor explains as much as he knows, Robin challenges Him. Robin awards the Doctor with the title of Legend. The Doctor can’t fathom such an endearing title.

Once again, just as the Doctor helps another being find their way, his question of “Am I a good man?” gains another layer of complexity.So far, the answers have been:

  • you’re different
  • you’re a good Dalek
  • you’re a legend

But! We have answered a question we’ve been asking, “What is Paradise?” It’s a planet! And apparently, everyone wants to go there. But questions still remain:

  1. Who is Missy?
  2. What’s the Doctor’s catch phrase?
  3. Did Sherwood actually exist?
  4. Why must every hero reject endearment and posses a dark side?

With foggy thinking, we push farther into the adventures of the Doctor and his companion.

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

Into the Dalek – Doctor Who Explained

[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.Good Dalek

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 this episode. 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

 

[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 adventuresYou Don't See Me

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!]

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 this episode. 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