Tagged: The Doctor

John Ostrander: Doctor McCrankypants

SPOILER ALERT: This week’s topic is Doctor Who. If you don’t watch the show, you probably won’t like the column. Also, if you’re saving this season to binge watch and haven’t seen any of the episodes yet, there may be some spoilers. Fair warning.

We’re several weeks now into the new season of Doctor Who featuring the latest incarnation of the Doctor as played by Peter Capaldi. While our own Vinnie Bartilucci has been doing splendid recaps/reviews here on ComicMix, I’d like to look at Capaldi’s Doctor overall and weigh in.

He’s not like the past several incarnations. Capaldi said he wanted his Doctor to be more of an alien and he’s succeeded. This Doctor also has something of an empathy problem and his social skills are rather lacking. David Tennant, the Tenth Doctor, was famous for telling people, “I’m sorry. I’m so so sorry.” Especially when something terrible was going to happen or did happen to them that he couldn’t prevent. I can’t imagine those words even occurring to Capaldi’s incarnation.

However, what distinguishes this Doctor most to me is – he’s cranky. He’s Doctor McCrankypants.

Start with the eyes. Our first glimpse of him showed an almost angry glare and fierce, fierce eyebrows. He scowls more than he smiles. Suffer fools gladly? This Doctor doesn’t suffer them at all. He doesn’t like being hugged and, when his companion insisted, did it very awkwardly. He almost looked as if he was in pain.

He is ruthlessly pragmatic. On “Mummy on the Orient Express,” the mummy appears only to those it is about to kill. They have 66 seconds to live. The Doctor insistently pumps one of the victims before their death for a description and any other information in an effort to learn what they are dealing with. He knows there is no chance of saving the terrified man and doesn’t try.

In the first of the new episodes, the Doctor and his companion, Clara, are fleeing automatons. A door comes down between them with only a porthole in it. “No sense in both of us getting caught,” says the Doctor and runs off, leaving Clara to survive as best she can. You can see her sense of betrayal. The Doctor does return with help and does later rescue Clara but his actions are very atypical of the Doctor.

There can also be amusing side-effects to the Doctor’s crankiness. He offers to take Clara anywhere she wants to meet anyone she wants and she asks to meet Robin Hood whom the Doctor insists never existed. They go anyway and, of course, the first person the Doctor sees is Robin Hood. Refusing to admit he’s wrong, the Doctor insists this is an imposter or a robot or a hologram or something but definitely not Robin Hood. Caught and thrown into a dungeon, the Doctor and Robin have a hysterical bickering session.

In a later episode, the Doctor goes “undercover” as a caretaker at the school where Clara teaches when she is not off traipsing through all of time and space. He pretends to be human and thinks he can get away with it. He is so tone deaf to his social ineptness that it really is very funny.

All of this makes him different from his immediate predecessors. He lacks the puppy dog verbosity of Matt Smith or the emo boyishness of David Tennant or the mannish, blunt charms of Christopher Eccleston. In fact, the only Doctor I can think of who has been as cranky was the first Doctor, William Hartnell. Maybe not even him.

I wonder how the fans who have only joined the show since Eccleston and Tennant will react to Capaldi’s Doctor? He’s older and, well, crankier. Myself – I like him. A lot. In many ways, I relate to him more. As I get older, I get – well – crankier. “Hey, you kids – get away from my TARDIS!”

So – here’s to Doctor McCrankypants. Long may he travel through space and time, alienating friends and enemies alike. Go get em, Doctor.


Martha Thomases: Cosplay Around The Clock?

Thomases Art 140502My friend Connie went to see the cherry blossoms at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden last weekend. She couldn’t wait to tell me about it. Apparently, it is common for people of Japanese heritage – or people who admire Japanese heritage – to wear traditional dress for this occasion, and she had looked forward to seeing some fabulous kimonos.

Only this time, there were cosplayers. Lots of cosplayers. No one was selling any comics or movies or video games or collectibles, but still there were cosplayers.

Is this a thing now? Are we cosplaying all the time?

I mean, next month at Book Expo America, a trade show for the publishing industry, is having a “Book Con” for people who like books enough to go to the Javits Center on a nice weekend in the spring just for the fun of it. Are we going to see people dressed like their favorite Jane Austen characters? Or Moby Dick?

Once we expand cosplay to the world of traditional (i.e. non-illustrated) literature, then the cosplay opportunities can be expanded infinitely. Perhaps your boss isn’t a plutocrat with no imagination, but is instead performing an homage to The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit. Your mother-in-law hasn’t let herself go, she’s just a big fan of Stephen King. And your niece, the little princess? She dresses that way on purpose.

Actually, I already see a lot of kids dressed as princesses or Buzz Lightyear at local playgrounds. It’s possible they are coming from costume parties, which in the new kids’ culture now happen randomly all week long. And the hipster boys, with their artisanal beards, their vintage hats, and their flannel shirts, could just as easily be extras in a John Ford western.

I’m not going to do cosplay, at least not on purpose. I’ve already expressed a personal uneasiness with drawing attention to myself via spandex, and I don’t think that’s going to change as I get older. Having worn a uniform in high school, I am much too self-conscious about the message I send out when I put on clothes of my own choosing. Perhaps there would be some advantage to going to work dressed as Wonder Woman on the day of my performance review. Perhaps I could use a magic lasso to get rid of the creeps on the subway.

Still, the event in Brooklyn inspired this story
in which a snappy dressed African-American gentleman was swamped with fans who thought he was dressed as The Doctor. The writer of the story in the link observed that the random people at the cherry blossom festival were more open-minded than the people at New York Comic-Con six months before. As comics fans, we should be ashamed of ourselves. As Americans, maybe we can be encouraged by the progress we’ve made in six months.

In any case, if you’re looking for investment opportunities, I would recommend bow ties.

Bow ties are cool.

This just in: Doctor Who’s Peter Capaldi is the sweetest man ever

No man stands so tall as when he stoops to ask a child dressed as a Dalek if he can be The Doctor.

There’s lots of cool moments in  this video of Doctor Who filming at Mermaid Quay, like the first scenes by new recurring castmember Samuel Anderson as Danny Pink.

But right at the end, there’s is a moment of new Doctor Peter Capaldi talking with a little girl who came all the way from Aberdeen to see the shoot.  While security tried to get him to keep moving, he took the time (along with signing endless autographs) to make her feel better about what is surely her first case of New Doctor Angst.


I’m not crying; I’m smiling so hard the corners of my mouth are squeezing my tear ducts…

BREAKING: Peter Capaldi to wear clothing on “Doctor Who”

tumblr_n02poztDwR1qijoeyo1_500The BBC released today the first photo of Peter Capaldi’s costume for his tenure as Doctor Who.

“Peter Capaldi’s Doctor is officially recorded in history today with the unveiling of his new costume.  It’s sharp, smart and stylish – The Twelfth Time Lord means business.”  said Charlotte Moore, Controller of BBC One.

Peter Capaldi said: “He’s woven the future from the cloth of the past. Simple, stark, and back to basics. No frills, no scarf, no messing, just 100 per cent Rebel Time Lord.”

Much of The Doctor’s character comes from the clothes he wears, from the very formal attire of William Hartnell, to the “Space Hobo” of Patrick Troughton, to the iconic scarf of Tom Baker.  This outfit bears some similarities to Matt Smith’s final outfit; sans the bow tie and the red jacket lining has already got everyone talking.  Like Matt and David Tennant before him, the outfit is simple, stylish, and doesn’t shout louder than the actor within it.

Hopefully it doesn’t clash with his kidneys.

John Ostrander: Wibbly-Wobbly Storytelling

Ostrander Art 140112As River Song is want to warn: Spoilers! There’s going to be a lot of talk in this column about what happened on this year’s Doctor Who Christmas Special, ”The Time of the Doctor.” There’s no way around critiquing the show without talking about what happened in it. If you haven’t seen it but intend to, you may want to avoid this column.There are plenty of other fine columns here at ComicMix so you can read them instead if you like.

The Doctor is dead; long live the Doctor. Matt Smith’s tenure as Doctor Who has given way to Peter Capaldi’s. It all happened in this year’s Christmas Special, The Time of the Doctor. I wish I could tell you it was wonderful but, in truth, I was underwhelmed.

Steven Moffat, the showrunner and the author of the episode, is a very clever writer. Sometimes he’s too clever and sometimes he’s not as clever as he thinks. For the Fiftieth Anniversary Special, The Day of the Doctor, he was wonderfully clever with deeply felt emotional moments, a thrilling climax, and a special appearance at the end which just knocked my socks off and dangled them from my ears. In this episode, Moffat was very clever and very good as he so often is. All of which made my dissatisfaction with the Christmas Special so much the greater.

The Time of the Doctor had two important issues to settle. It was to mark the regeneration, the transition, of the Doctor from Matt Smith to the new Doctor, now played by Peter Capaldi. Having now established that Matt Smith’s Doctor was the final one in the Doctor’s regeneration cycle, it had to establish how Capaldi’s Doctor was possible. Moffat decided also to bring together dangling threads from previous episodes. That makes it a very busy episode and one of its narrative problems.

One of the problems is a prophecy that occurs in an earlier episode, The Wedding of River Song, it says that on “the fields of Trenzalore, at the Fall of the Eleventh, when no creature can speak falsely or fail to answer, a question will be asked. A question that must never ever be answered: Doctor who?” Problem: Matt Smith’s Doctor is no longer the Eleventh Doctor.  “The Day of the Doctor” introduced John Hurt as the War Doctor, who was now the Ninth incarnation and that made Matt Smith the Twelfth Doctor. If he isn’t the Twelfth Doctor, then all the hoohah of this being his final incarnation is just blather. The plot hinges on it.

There are a lot of problems with this story. Early on, it has his companion, Clara, frantically asking the Doctor to come to her apartment and pretend to be her boyfriend for a Christmas dinner she’s cooking for her parents and grandmother. This makes no sense to me. Clara is gorgeous and she can’t get a local guy to do the part?

When the Doctor and Clara get to Trenzalore, there is a small farming community of humans and the town is named Christmas. I guess we’re in the future. Beaming down, they find some Weeping Angels buried in the snow. The Weeping Angels were really creepy the first time I saw them; now they’re just annoying. Their powers change to whatever Moffat wants them to be. One touch and you’re dead. Or tossed back in time for some reason. One grabs Clara’s boot so she should be dead or tossed back in time or something but she’s not. The Weeping Angels then do not figure into the rest of the story.

All of the Doctor’s foes are gathered around the planet (been there, seen that in The Pandorica Opens) and we have the Daleks who were made to forget all about the Doctor except now they don’t anymore.

There is a crack in the wall that is a crack in space and time and the Doctor supposedly closed all that off in The Big Bang but, no, there’s one conveniently left. On the other side are the Time Lords who were frozen into a single point of time in a pocket universe in order to save them in The Day of the Doctor, except they’re broadcasting a message to the Doctor to see if its safe for his home planet, Gallifrey, to come back. This would evidently re-ignite the Time War and destroy the Universe. Not to mention Trenzalore and the human colony. The last time Gallifrey appeared out of its usual spot, it was going to destroy and replace the Earth (The End of Time). What’s a little consistency among friends?

The Doctor spends 300 years on Trenzalore (Clara is sent home but comes back in what, for her, is the same day.). The Daleks want to kill him before he dies of old age. Defiant, the old boy goes out to meet them. Clara convinces the Time Lords on the other side of the time/space crack that they need to save him so the they send him a new batch of regeneration energy, enough for a whole new cycle of lives. Never mind that, the last time we saw them, the High Council of Time Lords were trying to kill the Doctor. The Doctor focuses the excess regeneration energy to wipe out the Daleks and regenerates, after a soulful monologue and a nice cameo from a much loved companion, into his new self. Yay.

I could go on at even greater length than I have but the episode was simply too busy by half. New characters and concepts are tossed in and there’s a lot of explaining away of what we previously thought and, along the way, invalidates an episode that occurred at the end of the previous season. Things are shoehorned in and continuity is changed or disregarded where it’s not convenient. That’s bad writing and that’s disappointing when it’s from someone as gifted as Moffat and who told such a wonderful story just one episode earlier. This Doctor Who Christmas Special was coal in the stocking and it’s a damn shame it came on the 800th episode and such an important moment in the history of Doctor Who.

MONDAY: Mindy Newell



See Chris Pine as the Latest Jack Ryan in This Extended Scene

See Chris Pine as the Latest Jack Ryan in This Extended Scene

He’s been portrayed by the some Hollywood’s biggest names and goes through as many incarnations as The Doctor. Now, Chris Pine leaves the starship Enterprise to enter Tom Clancy’s world of modern day espionage in Jack Ryan: Shadow Unit, opening January 17. Paramount Pictures has provided us with this extended scene.

Based on the CIA analyst created by espionage master Tom Clancy, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is a blistering action thriller that follows Ryan from his quiet double-life as a veteran-turned-Wall Street executive to his all-out initiation as a hunted American agent on the trail of a massive terrorist plot in Moscow.

Ryan appears to be just another New York executive to his friends and loved ones, but his enlistment into the CIA secretly goes back years.  He was brought in as a brainy Ph.D. who crunches global data – but when Ryan ferrets out a meticulously planned scheme to collapse the U.S. economy and spark global chaos, he becomes the only man with the skills to stop it. Now, he’s gone fully operational, thrust into a world of mounting suspicion, deception and deadly force. Caught between his tight-lipped handler Harper (Academy Award-winner Kevin Costner), his in-the-dark fiancée Cathy (Keira Knightley) and a brilliant Russian oligarch (Kenneth Branagh), Jack must confront a new reality where no one can seem to be trusted, yet the fate of millions rests on his finding the truth.  With the urgency of a lit fuse, he’s in a race to stay one step ahead of everyone around him.

Doctor Who cast share their thoughts on “The Time of the Doctor”

bosj8cWith Matt Smith’s final episode (well, until the hundredth anniversary, anyway) imminent, the cast (and showrunner Steven Moffat) sat down to talk about their thoughts about the Christmas adventure.  Guest Orla Brady (Tasha Lem) also discusses her experience with the show, and her experience with new Doctor, Peter Capaldi.  Read on for the juicy details.


REVIEW: The Day of the Doctor Blu Ray 3D / DVD

day-of-the-doctor-blu-ray-804x1024-4094042The Day of the Doctor was everything the fans were hoping for, and the new Blu Ray 3D / DVD combo set is a perfect way to hang onto the adventure in perpetuity if you don’t want to take up space on your DVR.

The star of the package is the anniversary episode itself. The picture is perfect , with detail aplenty for those who weren’t lucky enough to catch the episode on BBC America in HD, or in the theaters.  As yr. obvt. svt reviewed and analyzed here on this site it features both Matt Smith and David Tennant, plus a heretofore unseen Doctor, played by John Hurt, teased in the last episode of the seventh season.  They all meet when the “War Doctor” chooses to destroy both armies of the great Time War, but is given a second chance to reconsider by an unexpected source – the very weapon he plans on using. Throw in Queen Elizabeth the First (AKA Mrs. The Doctor), the return of the Zygons, and a cameo that they kept right up until the end, and you’ve got a real belter.  My god did I love that gulping noise Tennant made every time he gets kissed by the Queen…

The extras are a bit slim, but what there is is cherce. Both mini-episodes are featured; The Last Day, a short adventure that chronicles the fall of Gallifrey’s second greatest city, Arcadia, and The Night of the Doctor, which featured the return of Eighth Doctor Paul McGann,  Both adventures look amazing in Hi-def – McGann’s return to the role is dramatic and gritty.  They did a wonderful job showing what happened to The Doctor through all those missing years.

A feature by BBC America, Doctor Who Explained, offers a great primer for the series.  The teaser trailer is included, as is the much-fabled Comic-Con trailer, which Moffat was able to keep secret to all who weren’t in the room with various threats and saber-rattling.

A pack of collectable trading cards rounds out the set, manufactured by Topps, who have yet to make Doctor Who cards in the US, which rather opens a promising door.  A set of twelve, they form a single collage when assembled.

The Day of the Doctor is available from Amazon.com and all purveyors of things DVDish and Blu-Ray-ey.