Extremis

Extremis

When we learned just before the start of Series 10 that Steven Moffat opted to begin and end the season with his own penned episodes, it came as no surprise. After all, it was becoming the expected fashion for the showrunner, and none would have expected anything less in his final tenured season. Upon hearing that he would check in mid-series with the start of a three-part arc, however, our collective ears stood up. Something complex and fascinating was in the works, and the maestro himself wanted to be the hand that set the gears in motion. Now here we are, at the very midpoint, with a Doctor in distress, a companion unaware, a revelation in a vault…and the head of the Catholic Church in the bedroom.

It must be Saturday, because things have just waterski-ed past “isn’t that odd?” and propelled headlong into “what in the heck does this all mean?”.

We hit the fulcrum of Series 10 with Moffat’s organized-religion-and-virtual-reality mindbender, “Extremis”. With the expected tilted ratio of questions raised to questions answered, we grapple with the newly discovered but highly formidable Monks of Veritas, Bill’s increasing exasperation with the inability to balance adventure with a stable life, Nardole’s apparent (albeit limited) bad-assery, and another fascinating wrinkle in the greatest frenemy relationship to ever emerge from the Prydonian chapter. No fewer than three rewatches were necessary to try and feel we were in any way prepared to unpack this complicated episode — and darned if it’s not just the start to a three-part story.

(And yes, we end up at some point merging “monks” and “mummies” to refer to them as “mum-keys”, and we’re not sorry.)

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Oxygen

Doctor Who: Oxygen

When you’ve run from all the bogey-men, the ghosts and ghouls, the shadows within the shadows, the killer robots, and the bug-eyed aliens bent on your demise, it’s a reasonable assumption that the next threat to terrify and terrorize us is…rampant galactic capitalism. CURSE YOU, EMPTY SUITS. *fist shake*

This week, we rub furiously at our eyes after a viewing of “Oxygen”, the fifth episode of Series 10. Discussions are had over the respiratory systems of Time Lords, Moffat’s new-found ability to kill at will, Bill going blue, and what Nardole’s organic-to-bionic ratio really is.

Bonus Segment:

“Say Something Nice” — we have to find at least three positive things to say about a randomly chosen episode that comes from the bottom 10% of major Whovian ranking polls. Pollyanna-ism, away!

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Knock Knock

Knock Knock

The iconic ghost story: possibly one of the most popular forms of storytelling for centuries, from elaborate Dickensian novels, to childhood campfire tales. Our beloved Doctor Who program is no stranger to the paranormal yarn, yet we viewers never tire of seeing how the characters will grapple with what appears to be a spectral event but is clearly, surely, undoubtedly something more alien, technological, or just whizzo-science-y than Casper or that lovely couple from Beetlejuice. If we’re so certain of the outcome, then why do we keep coming back to see one explanation after another? Perhaps it’s because the scare is what sells us, not the solution.

As we’ve discussed before regarding stories like Hide and Death in Heaven, through fifty-plus years of the series, if the writers and producers actually broached the topic of life after death with some canonical certainty, having avoided it (and much of theological subject matter in general) to this point, wouldn’t the program be forever changed? Perhaps there’s something to be said for preserving that mystery, above all.

That peculiar scratching sound from upstairs, though? That’s one mystery that needs to get sorted, sharpish. Probably just a squirrel in the eaves again. Obnoxious little tree rats…

This week, we creep slowly up the stairs to find out what’s really going on in “Knock Knock”. We discuss the somewhat narrow-sighted behavior of nearly every character in the episode to one degree or another, the interesting role (and behavioral) reversal that David Suchet has to give his character in the final moments, and a little hypothesizing about how much time has to pass in the Doctor and Bill’s relationship before the TARDIS can be loaned out as a lorry service.

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Smile

Smile

Language, like a living species, is an dynamic construct, ever evolving and subject to the influences of time. Certain rules and applications are introduced or are rendered obsolete as the populace drifts in or out of favor with them, either as a result of generational or regional usage and trend. (Look to the yearly addenda to the Oxford English Dictionary to see the brouhaha that erupts every time a new term is considered for inclusion.) Is it arguable that the emergence and exponential rise in popularity of emoji are a natural bend in the river of etymology?

Are we — as some critique — somehow ‘regressing’ to the age of hieroglyphs and simplified pictographic representation? Moreover, is this shift in communication a means of expanding and emphasizing the intended message to be conveyed, or rather, limiting the fuller phonemic language, and thus oversimplifying our word-set, leading to misinterpretation and lack of clarity? Are we becoming more emoji-eloquent, or at risk of nearing Orwell’s Newspeak?

If writer Frank Cottrell-Boyce is correct, just wait a little while longer, and ask your refrigerator or toaster. It’ll be happy to discuss the subject with you. [chin-scratchy-think-face]

This week, we share our emotions and reactions right out on the open to the Series 10 episode, “Smile”. We discuss the enjoyable performances from Capaldi and Mackie, the strange little prelude that gives Nardole the brush-off (and raises the “Oath” question again), and look painfully hard at the future-human-colony-meets-misguided-artificial-intelligence storyline that follows. We’d go into more detail here, but we’d rather you [ear] to the [speaker].

BONUS: We play a fast round of “The <BLANK> of the Daleks”, another mini-game we’re testing for future convention use in the greater hoopla that is the “Oh No, Who Didn’t!” game.

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Series 10 Wishes

It’s nearly here…that wonderful, horrible moment where we realize that we are FINALLY getting new Doctor Who content…but at such a price. Steven Moffat has us teased and tempted for what could be an exceptional final series in his hands, and Peter Capaldi shows absolutely no signs of letting off the accelerator for his final season as the Doctor. Bill and Nardole are ready to (basically) run, and the cavalcade of monsters waiting in the wings are both impressive and formidable. What could we possibly want? Well, funny you should ask…

This week, we look at all we know about the upcoming season, and lay out some of our wishes for the Series 10 episodes to come. These aren’t the if-it-were-up-to-me or if-continuity-didn’t-matter or other “pipe dream” wishes; these are realistic, achievable (at least in our estimation) goals for what could be presented in the next 12 episodes…and Christmas special. From character progression, to utilization of classic foes, to that (ahem) recent news about a certain evil Time Lord, we really hope some of these boxes get ticked by the close of the Moffat era.

BONUS: “This Day in Doctor Who”, where we haunt Jay’s sanity for a few moments regarding ‘The Unquiet Dead’.

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