Tagged: Peter Capaldi

Mindy Newell: Run, You Clever Boy. And Remember


Clara: I don’t know where I am. It’s like I’m breaking into a million pieces and there is only one thing I remember: I have to save the Doctor. He always looks different. I always know it’s him. Sometimes I think I’m everywhere at once, running every second just to find him. Just to save him. But he never hears me. Almost never. I blew into this world on a leaf. I’m still blowing. I don’t think I’ll ever land. I’m Clara Oswald. I’m the impossible girl. I was born to save the Doctor. • The Name of the Doctor, Doctor Who, Series 7

Last week’s column (Paul Is Dead) was my bitchfest against the suits of the BBC and their relentless “wink-wink” interviews and spoiler-y “previews” of what’s to come on this season of Doctor Who. That it’s gotten so bad that “I’m expecting any moment to see an announcement… that Peter Capaldi wiped his ass after taking a shit.”

At least I’m not alone. Here’s what Simon Brew said in his review of Doctor Who’s Season 9’s penultimate episode, Heaven Sent:

Doctor Who is a globally enjoyed TV show that continues to make serious and heavy inroads around the planet. It’s also a programme that therefore has to – even though it’s a BBC show – dance to the ratings game a little. As a consequence of that, the decision has been made somewhere along the line to release what I’d class as fairly significant spoilers in the build up to this episode, a few weeks ahead.

“I think – and it’s easy for me to say this from my perspective – that’s a mistake. Worse: I think it hurt the ending of Heaven Sent for those who had read what should have been a more spoiler-light synopsis – or at least a more time sensitive one – for Hell Bent, the series finale.

“Appreciating that Steven Moffat, a year ago, already began teasing the cliffhanger of this episode, for those of us who were exposed to spoilers ahead of time – and this wasn’t Internet chitter-chatter, they were formally released in a piece of publicity by the BBC – the reveal at the end of the episode lost a good chunk of its impact. Because we knew the Doctor was going to end up on Gallifrey. A big, geeky, nerdbump-generating moment had been sacrificed for many at the altar of the publicity machine, and that’s a real pity.”

Anyway, having experienced Clara’s death last week as an anti-climatic fallen soufflé, I stayed away from the Whovian universe – okay, I did read reviews and comments about Face the Raven at my favorite sites, which include Forbes, Vulture, Den of Geek, and Entertainment Weekly – and watched Heaven Sent with very little foreknowledge.

It made a huge difference, as I was able to not only simply watch Peter Capaldi’s amazing solo act, but also figure out what was going on, instead of waiting for the fait accompli.

SPOILER ALERT. In no order at all:

Not just the castle, but also the Doctor’s life is being continuously reset; those billions of skulls at the bottom of the sea are his.

Room 12 is his room, the twelfth Doctor (purists can shut up right now about Capaldi being the 13th reincarnation), which is why Clara’s portrait hung there.

The portrait is so old that the paint is cracked and flaking away. (This was actually when I realized that the Doctor had already been in that castle for centuries, if not thousands, of years.)

The Veiled “Thing” was something born of the Doctor’s own nightmares and fears and guilt and lies, which was why telling the truth stopped it. (Here I was expecting the Doctor to admit that he was ultimately the cause of Clara’s death, since her arrogance and recklessness was patterned on the Doctor’s own behavior.)

The word “Home” written on the “impenetrable” wall – I knew what that meant: Gallifrey.

But I didn’t expect to see the TARDIS, nor did I expect to see Jenna Coleman in the flesh.

That was the best part of the episode for me, as (perhaps?) for one last time, the “Impossible Girl” who has been there at every crisis in all the Doctor’s numerous lives pointed him in the right direction and told him to “get up off your arse and win.”

Why was it the best part of the episode for me?

“Don’t it always seem to go,

“That you don’t know what you’ve got

“’Til it’s gone”

Though I loved her incarnations as a Dalek and as a Victorian barmaid/governess, I never really “got” the modern-day Clara. She never felt truly defined for me – though now that I think of it, perhaps that was the point. Clara the individual stopped existing the moment she stepped into the Time Vortex – and because of all that “time-winey stuff,” she had done it before and would do it again – so that even the Clara we saw through Matt Smith’s time as the Doctor, and even now with Peter Capaldi, is still only a shade, a shadow, a piece of shattered personality. Which is why we saw modern-day Clara as a babysitter, then a teacher, then a lover and would-be wife and mother, a “member” of UNIT, and, then, finally, as an adventurer and “Time Lord.” It was as if Clara was trying on and discarding clothes in a department store fitting room, or walking through a funhouse Hall of Mirrors looking at all her distorted reflections. She seemed to be constantly asking herself, “Which one is the real me?”

I don’t know. Maybe I’m overthinking it.

But I finally felt Clara’s death.

One more thing I believe I have figured out…

“The hybrid is me.”

Or is that….

“The hybrid is Me.”

Marc Alan Fishman: To Love and Loathe Loot Crate

Doc Brown FuncoHello. My name is Marc Alan Fishman, and I am … a collector. I’ve attempted many times to stop. I thought getting married, having a mortgage, and a kid would get in the way. It didn’t. I even have another kid on the way, and yet, I can’t shake off my problem. Shiny toys, gadgets, and brick-a-brak litter my life like dumbass xenophobic one liners litter Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. I’d heard once that the first step to overcoming a bad habit was to admit you had a problem. Well, I’ll be honest: I don’t actually have a problem collecting stuff. But I do have a budding problem with the crate culture that’s being cultivated out and about in this age of the Interwebs.

For those still living in a cave, let me bring you up to speed. The Internet is a large interconnected web of sites that offer news, information, and yes, means to buy and sell objects and services of interest. Taking a page out of the subscription services of yore, Loot Crate, Nerd Block, and umpteen other startups have opened their digital doors in order to pair nerds with extra cash with stashes of objects of unknown origin. Or to be a little less cryptic, a combination of overstocked items, and cheaply-produced trinkets by manufacturers looking for quick turnaround.

I freely, and sadly, admit to succumbing to peer pressure when I bit the bullet two months ago. Loot Crate must have paid a fine fortune to market themselves in my Facebook feed several times a day. And there, in all his Doctorly glory, stood a static Peter Capaldi telling me that the month’s crate was Time themed. He beckoned to me in his notorious brogue. “C’mon, ya wee bugger. Why not see what you’ll get? Ye only need to part with a little of that wasted PayPal money you’ve got stashed away fer’ a rainy day. Certainly if they’re showing me pretty face here, I’ll be waiting fer’ you in the box!” And then they sealed the deal with a First Timers discount. Three dollars off bought my love, damnit.

When the crate arrived, I was elated. Loot Crate promised it’d be like Christmas morning. Being Jewish, I didn’t know exactly how that would feel, but my goyim friends always made it sound like a big deal. So, I cracked open the “crate,” which was a cardboard box. I got a limited edition fifth-scale authentic replica of the Back to the Future II Hoverboard, a Doc Brown Funco Pop™ toy, a Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure tee shirt, and a Doctor Who Sonic Screwdriver spork. Oh… and a collectible button.

Is Christmas morning supposed to feel empty and hollow? Where I was shown promotional images that hinted at an item celebrating my favorite Doctor, I was gifted a plastic eating utensil – erected in the form of the previous Doctor’s iteration of the aforementioned Screwdriver. The shirt was nice. The Pop was cute. The Hoverboard was authentically replicated, and boxed in a nifty reflective package.

Had anyone in my life gifted these items to me otherwise, I’d be pleased as punch to have received them. Yet, upon unboxing, I felt no twinge of glee. Perhaps I simply was being too dismissive. I should wait another month, and see what new and lovely trinkets would arrive on my doorstep. What good is that twenty bucks doing in that Paypal account, anyways!?

And then Combat showed up on my doorstep. Inside? A pair of sunglasses with a bolted-on 2-D Shredder helmet from the old Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon, a Vault Boy bobblehead from Fallout 4, a tiny plastic SD Blizzard villain figure, and a Loot Crate Exclusive Street Fighter II comic book. Again, I’d hoped for that unwieldy sense of joy at the box of goodies before me. Instead, I felt the pangs I often feel when I peruse the show floor at comic con.

I often find myself reflecting “All of these tchotchkes are cute, but really, do I need them?” And the answer has always been an abrupt No. While I admitted earlier to being a collector, that term comes with the weight of individualism behind it. As much as I’m a nerd-of-the-world – well-versed in the minutiae of Blizzard video games and Back to the Future – I’m also a finicky little fuck. Pardon my French.

The appeal of a random box of appropriately nerdy wares is certainly there. It’s the brown-paper bag stapled shut at the comic shop. It could contain an issue of The Atom that’s the bee’s knees! Of course it could contain Voodoo #1 from the New52 as well. The chance for something cool often sparks us to roll the dice. Loot Crate and their kin bank on this feeling. They hedge their bets by appealing to our shared culture of collectability – that even if we don’t personally love the items in the box, someone will, and will pay more for the item than we did. Suddenly Loot Crate is a micro-transaction investment! But nay, I say, my dear nerds.

Loot Crate is, at best, a great way to cultivate a collection of crap for someone who wants to be hip to nerd culture. For the well-versed dorks like myself, it’s the crib-note version of Crisis on Infinite Earths instead of the Absolute iteration. Good on the surface, but not much else.

Could I spend twenty bucks better? Probably. Will I? Maybe after next month’s box. While I’d love to cancel my subscription knowing full well two months has brought me little in the way of childish joy… the crate for December has a Star Wars collectible in it, and my wife called dibs.

No one ever said I wasn’t a hypocrite.

Mindy Newell: Paul Is Dead


Clara Oswald (Jenna Coleman): Let me be brave. Let me be brave. • “Face the Raven” • Episode 10, Series 9 • Doctor Who

Well, that was… uh… umm…

Kinda flat.

It’s because it was all over the Internet, including an interview with Doctor Who show runner Stephen Moffat, that Jenna Coleman, a.k.a. Clara Oswald, a.k.a. The Impossible Girl, was leaving the series and that her exit would be horrible, dramatic, terrifying, and final – or words to that effect, anyway.

And it really wasn’t.

I don’t blame Peter Capaldi or Jenna Coleman for this; both of them turned in their usual brilliant performances. I don’t even blame Stephen Moffat all that much; he has to answer to the higher-up-the food-chain suits.

Those are the ones I blame – the suits who are obviously so frightened that Doctor Who will lose its “worldwide phenomenon” (as the New York Times called it around the time of the 50th anniversary) status and return to where it belongs – the little show that could, the ½ century-old cult that, like a Time Lord, regenerates itself every so often to become an obsession with a new generation of fans.

Seriously, guys, your obsession with keeping the media spotlight on Doctor Who since the 50th anniversary and The Day of The Doctor has become so relentless that I’m expecting any moment to see an announcement from you that Peter Capaldi wiped his ass after taking a shit.

Memo to the Doctor Who marketing department:


Let it go!

Let it be, already.


Mindy Newell: Peace Killing


The Doctor: “How are you going to protect your glorious revolution from the next one?” • The Zygon Inversion • Doctor Who, Season 9, Episode 8 • Written by Peter Harkness and Steven Moffat

What the fuck is with all these fucking commercials!

I mean, seriously, I get that BBCAmerica wants its money’s worth out of Doctor Who, but c’mon, are you fucking kidding me? Ever since the passing of the TARDIS to Peter Capaldi, the commercial breaks have gotten absolutely fucking ridiculous – what is it down to now, every five minutes? And the breaks seem to be longer than the actual story in between the damn commercials!!!! How the hell can anyone actually enjoy the show?

Because of the stupid commercials, I missed so much of the nuances of both The Zygon Invasion (which first aired last week on October 31) and Saturday’s The Zygon Inversion that I watched them at one sitting today, Sunday, November 8, on Amazon Prime. Yeah, I paid $2.99 for each, because Season 9 is (not yet) part of my Amazon Prime membership, but it was worth every penny.

I loved it.

No, more than that…

I adored it.

In fact, im-absolu-fuckin-lutely-not-so-ho, this two-hour story will be the one that definitely defines Peter Capaldi’s ownership of the Doctor. His delivery on the futility of war was brilliant, combining pathos, hope, desperation, and even bits of humor. I was riveted, I couldn’t take my eyes off of him – and, in fact, I “rewound” those ten climatic minutes three times just so I could watch and listen to him again. Now, I do have to say that I was a bit “quibbled” last week when the show hit us all on the head with a very, very heavy hammer:

The Doctor: “This is a splinter group. The rest of the Zygons  –  the vast majority  –  they want to live in peace. You start bombing them, you’ll radicalize the lot. That’s exactly what the splinter group wants.”

Yes, yes, Steven Moffat and Peter Harness, we got the analogy – and if you didn’t get the analogy then I’m not talking to you – and perhaps you didn’t have to swing Mjolnir again when the “normalized” Zygon pleaded that he just wanted to live in peace before he killed himself. The best part of any science fiction, whether it be in book or television or movie form, imho, is when it addresses and/or attacks our real concerns, assumptions, and prejudices and, hopefully, makes us actually think about them.

The Doctor: “Listen, I just want you to think. Do you know what thinking is? It’s just a fancy word for changing your mind.”

But this is the real world, and it will take more than Peter Capaldi’s breathtaking performance and a great, great episode of Doctor Who to change the minds of radical “splinter groups” bent on war to realize that the box – both of them – is empty.

Even the Doctor has been through this 14 times before.

Alex Kingston Returns to Doctor Who

The BBC is giving us all a grand Christmas present – Alex Kingston will return to Doctor Who for the Christmas special as The Doctor’s Paramour and assassin, River Song.

Day one of filming the eleventh Doctor Who Christmas special starts this week and is written by lead writer and executive producer, Steven Moffat, produced by Nikki Wilson and directed by Douglas Mackinnon (Doctor Who, Sherlock).

Award-winning Alex Kingston comments on her reappearance:

“To be honest, I did not know whether River would ever return to the show, but here she is, back with the Doctor for the Christmas special. Steven Moffat is on glittering form, giving us an episode filled with humor and surprise guest castings. I met Peter for the first time at Monday’s read-through, we had a laugh, and I am now excited and ready to start filming with him and the Doctor Who team. Christmas in September?, why not!”

Steven Moffat, lead writer and executive producer adds:

“Another Christmas, another special for Doctor Who – and what could be more special than the return of Alex Kingston as Professor River Song. The last time the Doctor saw her she was a ghost. The first time he met her, she died. So how can he be seeing her again? As ever, with the most complicated relationship in the universe, it’s a matter of time …”

gZ7G8River Song’s timeline with The Doctor has always been a topic of great discussion among fans.  From her point of view, her first appearance in Silence in the Library / Forest of the Dead was the last time she saw The Doctor, having died and all.  Up until the recent episode The Name of the Doctor, all of River’s appearances have been from earlier in her life / timeline – only in the latest one have we seen her from after the events of that first (well, I say “first”…) meeting.  So there’s no knowing from whence we’ll be seeing her appear this time.

As fans of their relationship know, there’s one very important moment we’ve yet to see – The Doctor has not yet presented her with the souped-up version of the sonic Screwdriver she used with such style in the Library. And considering Christmas is traditionally when presents are exchanged, who’s to say this isn’t when it’ll happen?

Curse you, Moffat, we haven’t even gotten to the premiere of the new season (September 19, as if you didn’t know) and you’ve already got us looking ahead to Christmas.


Doctor Who returns to theaters in 3-D, with preview of Series 9


Fathom events will team with BBC Worldwide North America for a national broadcast of the Doctor Who series eight climax Dark Water/Death in Heaven this fall.  Scheduled for September 15th and 16th, and presented in 3D, the event will also feature a new prequel teaser for series nine entitled The Doctor’s Meditation.  In addition Wil Wheaton, former Wesley Crusher and now multiform internet sensation, will host a special interview with Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman.

The two-part season finale featured the return of The Master, in the form of Michelle Gomez, who has already been confirmed to re-appear in the two part series nine opener The Magician’s Assistant / The Witch’s Familiar, set to premiere several days after this presentation on September 19.

Fathom Events has had a several-year partnership with BBC, beginning with a national broadcast of the 50th anniversary episode The Day of the Doctor, which the company described as bringing the “largest surges of traffic ever” to their website.  They’ve since broadcast the Series 8 premiere episode Deep Breath, as well as a presentation of the David Tennant two-parter Rise of the Cybermen/The Age of Steel. Fathom have presented a number of genre-friendly events, including an ongoing series of science fiction films “commented on” by MST3K alumni at RiffTrax, and an upcoming return to theaters of the animated classic The Iron Giant.

Tickets go on sale July 31 – check the Fathom Events website for a list of participating theaters.

Doctor Who Series 9 To Premiere September 19

In a continuing torrent of news and excitement from a regional comic convention on the west coast, BBC America announced the premiere date of series nine of Doctor Who – September 19th.

Having filmed in Cardiff since January, Peter Capaldi said:

“Soaring through all of time and space, series nine sees the Doctor throw himself into life with a new hunger for adventure. The Cosmos is there for the taking, thrilling, epic and enticing, and his to play in. But he’s almost reckless in his abandon. It’s almost like he’s running from something, something that if it ever catches him will turn his life upside down.”

Michelle Gomez will return as Missy, the latest incarnation of The Master, in the season’s two-part premiere The Magician’s Assistant / The Witch’s Familiar. Highlights of the series so far revealed include the return of Kate Stewart, U.N.I.T., Osgood, and the Zygons, an episode featuring Vikings in space, a city of Daleks, and a new race of mercenaries known as The Mire.

Mark Gatiss returns to writing for the series, as well as new contributors including Sarah Dollard and Catherine Tregenna.

Osgood Lives! Ingrid Oliver returns to Doctor Who

B2A3LDbCcAAX9MhUNIT scientist Osgood, played by Ingrid Oliver, returns to Doctor Who for season nine. Having been killed by Missy (Michelle Gomez) in the show’s season eight finale ‘Death in Heaven’, Steven Moffat decided to bring back the Doctor’s biggest fan.

Steven Moffat, lead writer and Executive Producer, said: “Osgood is back, fresh from her recent murder at the end of last series. We recently confirmed that Osgood was definitely dead and not returning – but in a show about time travel, anything can happen. The brilliant Ingrid Oliver is back in action. This time though, can the Doctor trust his number one fan?”

This time she’s back in action and comes face-to-face with the shape-shifting extra-terrestrial Zygons, as they also return for the new season. They last appeared in ‘The Day of the Doctor’ for the show’s 50th anniversary episode.

One of the most popular fan theories about Osgood’s not-deadness involves the events of the anniversary episode.  She was impersonated by a Zygon, but as the episode progressed, they seem to achieve some sort of mutual understanding.  Many have clung to the hope that the Osgood we saw reduced to particulate matter was the Zygon duplicate.

Of course, we also saw Missy’s device perform a number of functions – who’s to say one of them wasn’t a teleporter, like the shredders in Time Heist?  How will she ever come back?


Speaking on set, Ingrid Oliver commented on her reappearance: “As every actor who’s worked on Doctor Who will tell you, there’s always the secret hope you’ll get the call asking you to come back. To actually receive that call is both unexpected and brilliant. The word ‘honour’ gets banded about a lot, but it really is, it’s an honour. Especially because I was so sure Osgood was a goner after the last series!”

The two-part episode is currently being filmed in Cardiff, Wales, and is written by Peter Harness (Doctor Who – ‘Kill the Moon’, Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, Wallander), produced by Peter Bennett and directed by Daniel Nettheim (Line of Duty, Glue).

Also joining Peter Capaldi (The Doctor) and Jenna Coleman (Clara Oswald) and confirmed for guest roles in the double episode is Jemma Redgrave, Jaye Griffiths, Cleopatra Dickens, Sasha Dickens, Abhishek Singh, Todd Kramer, Jill Winternitz, Nicholas Asbury, Jack Parker and Aidan Cook.

Marc Alan Fishman: I’m Now A Who From Whoville!

Well, it took me a while to make my way through it, but I’m pleased as punch to report I watched an entire season of Doctor Who. And no need to bury the lead: I’m a fan. Peter Capaldi made me a fan. As for the rest of the Whoniverse, not so much.

For those loosely following my journey to TARDIStowne, this has been a long and bumpy road. When I’d noted my friends had started to watch (somewhere between the 9th and 10th Doctors) I gave the show a tepid try. Because I’d not been privy to any Who lore – be it actual storylines, or knowledge of the production itself – I initially found the show to be too low-budget, and too in-jokey for me to care. As the world around me anointed their arms with tally marks, whispered “Don’t Blink,” or went on and on about something called Bad Wolf, I remained ever-snarky. And then, when a weekend left me with nothing to do but catch The Day of the Doctor with my wife and son, I’d openly declared my desire to jump on the bandwagon. And thus I programmed the Capaldi Who to Season Record. Cue the theme music.

It’s not that surprising – to me, at least – that Capaldi was the hook that grabbed me. My love of Gregory House would be the telltale heart there. At their cores, Greg and Twelve (can I call him Twelve?) are problem-solvers. And they are both likely to use their tongues as the tool to save the day. Unlike House though, Capaldi’s Who was never outright rude for rudeness sake. He was curt, yes, but always when danger or a mystery seemed to be afoot. Tie this into the season’s overarching question – Is the Doctor a good man? – and you have the conflicted lead taking charge each week as the universe finds new ways to unravel.

And whether Capaldi was debating a dying Dalek, scoffing at Robin Hood, or giving dimension to flat foes, he presented it all with a nuanced performance that I believed was deep. Unlike the current James Gordon on Gotham, the gravitas of the Doctor felt lived in. And given I personally knew nothing of the decades-long history of the character? Well, that sums up Capaldi’s talent and my fandom pretty easily.

As with the original Star Trek, Firefly, or any number of other science-fiction shows I would eventually find an affinity for, the key to my kindness has always been strong characterization. Beyond Capaldi, I must give credit where it’s due. In spite of being plucky to the point of annoyance, Jenna Coleman’s Clara did eventually win me over. And her beau for the season, Danny Pink (“P.E.”!), while being a bit too much of a nondescript archetype when action was required, did eventually find his place. Funny then right as I was enjoying his grounded nature… that he (SPOILER ALERT) got smashed by a random plot device… err… car. In any event, the companions of this season were built to show us sides of the Doctor that were necessary in an introductory season. Now, a dozen or so episodes later… we know Twelve is not a leader of men, a lover of the ladies (though he creepily sorta dug kissing his arch, no?), or anything beyond an admitted “idiot with a box and a screwdriver, passing through, helping out.”

Long before I enjoyed the show, I’d considered Doctor Who to be as much (if not more) about the universe the he inhabited versus himself. But Capaldi’s season proved to me that to be untrue. While the episodes throughout the season were chocked in references that scooted way over my head, the most potent moments were never about anyone or anything more important than the Doctor himself.

Obviously tied to the aforementioned Good Man motif, it was clear even in the more lackluster or frustrating episodes (Earth taken over by trees, I’m looking at you…) that the definition of this iteration of the Doctor was at the heart of the show. And even in the face of his newly reformed nemesis, with the entire Earth under the threat of annihilation, Capaldi’s grimaces and line delivery sucked every scene into his orbit.

If I were to be critical, it’d revolve mostly around the specific adventures themselves. I found the show to be at its best when the plots were small and specific. When the Doctor had to handle a murder mystery on the space-faring Orient Express, or dealing with an unknown flat threat targeting a small town, there was a wonderful balance between the threat and the solution. When the show went big, with Earth-swallowing fairy tale forests, or the season finale’s masterful plot, things tended to get out of hand. Heady concepts are the bread and butter of the science fiction serial… but in a season that is built around a introspection, these few-too-many universe-shattering melodramas felt like loose Star Trek plottos, not quirky BBC fare.

With a dozen adventures now under his belt, I’m excited for the future. With the prospect of a new companion to roam all of space and time with pending, as well as litany of returning alien allies and foes, I expect a second season of Capaldi to move outside of the reactionary into something more proactive. Let’s see where this Doctor really wants to travel.

That is of course, unless his new companion Bogarts the TARDIS for their own agenda. Either way, I’m on for the ride…

Eyebrows and all.


Tweeks: From Darkest Peru to the Big Screen, Paddington Bear

paddington-poster-sThe Tweeks grew up listening to Stephen Fry reading Michael Bond’s Paddington series on all of our car trips giving us a great fondness for that bear,  worrisome Marmalade habit not withstanding.  So, of course we had to get straight to the cinema (with a group of Brit ex-Pats — who really really love their Paddington) as soon as the movie opened in the US.  We didn’t even know The Doctor was in it, but we think it serves as proof to any one still wondering if Peter Capaldi holds a connection to the younger Whovian set!  Staring Downton Abbey’s Hugh Bonneville and the cutest CGI bear ever, it’s a great movie for the whole family.  No, really.  Adults will love it too.