Doctor Who: Reflections on Season 9: “Heaven Sent”

92210

With “Heaven Sent” we have a unique occurrence in the history of Doctor Who — an episode featuring the Doctor and no other character. We’ve had other similarly unusual situations in the past: “Ark in Space” part 1 includes only the Doctor, Sarah Jane and Harry, with no guest characters. Same with “The Mind Robber” part 1 with the Doctor, Jamie and Zoe. The Season One 2-parter “The Edge of Destruction” features only the main cast for the entire story. The one-episode adventure “Mission to the Unknown” does the opposite trick, featuring only supporting characters with no involvement by the Doctor or his companions. But we’ve never had a story to feature the Doctor — or any single character — exclusively. That premise alone is an enticing one that immediately brings a million exciting possibilities to mind. But what we’re given here is a mostly quiet narrative on loss mixed with some new revelations about the Doctor, the reintroduction of some of the threads from earlier in the season, and a set up for the season finale. That’s quite a lot of material to deliver with only one actor on hand (that must have made for quite an interesting table read!)

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History of Sci-Fi Cinema 13: “Invaders From Mars”

invaders_from_mars_poster_01Invaders From Mars (1953)
Written by Richard Blake, from a story by John Tucker Battle
Directed by William Cameron Menzies
Produced by Edward L. Alperson Jr., Edward L. Alperson
20th Century Fox
Starring Jimmy Hunt, Helena Carter, Arthur Franz

Wikipedia describes the Second Red Scare as having inspired movies and literature to produce “stories and themes of the infiltration, subversion, invasion, and destruction of American society by un–American thought and inhuman beings.” There is perhaps no clearer or less subtle example of that than Invaders From Mars, with body snatches, mind control, personality change, threat of invasion, etc. Not that these themes are rare in science fiction of this period, but here they are so “on the nose.” The performances are far from nuanced, the Americanism proudly flag-waving, and the music dramatic and obvious. And yet … it turned out to be a highly enjoyable viewing.

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Doctor Who: Reflections on Series 9: “Sleep No More”

Well, that was  . . . interesting.

And no, that’s not intended to be snark. It really was interesting. It has certainly sparked a lot of discussion and debate around ye ol’ internet. But there’s a huge difference between debating deep meaning or interesting philosophical points and debating because no one quite can figure out what the hell is going on.

DW-SleepNoMore

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History of Sci-Fi Cinema 12: “When Worlds Collide” & “War of the Worlds”

12-WWCWhen Worlds Collide (1951)
Written by Sydney Boehm, based on the novel by Edwin Balmer and Philip Wylie
Directed by Rudolph Maté
Produced by George Pal
Paramount Pictures
Starring Richard Derr, Barbara Rush, Peter Hansen
1:23:00

12-WotWWar of the Worlds (1953)
Written by Barré Lyndon, based on the novel by H. G. Wells
Directed by Byron Haskin
Produced by George Pal
Paramount Pictures
Starring Gene Barry, Ann Robinson
1:25:00

As I’m running a bit behind in my blog, I decided to combine my next two entries into one, as the next two make a fitting pairing: two towering accomplishments of cinema sci-fi, a double-feature of destruction by producer George Pal, these two films couldn’t be more similar — and at the same time, more different. Both inspired by influential works of fiction, both depicting the end of the world, both depicting strong Christian beliefs and themes, and both with a ray of hope at the end.

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Doctor Who: Reflections on Series 9: “The Zygon Inversion”

Ladies and gentlemen … I think we may have just reached the pinnacle of Modern Doctor Who.

Osgoods

The strength of many Doctor Who 2-parters lies in the second part. We’ve seen innumerable occurences over the past ten years where a fantastic Part One is followed up by a confusing, wonky, or weak Part Two. But this is not the case here. This story, from the start of last week to the end of this week, has built and developed in a believable way, going from strength to strength, ratcheting up the tension and keeping the viewer engaged throughout.

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Doctor Who: Reflections on Series 9: “The Zygon Invasion”

If I’ve not said it before (and yes, I have), this is the best season of Doctor Who in the post-2005 era. And the show has upped the ante with this week’s surprisingly realistic and gritty episode, “The Zygon Invasion.”

In Doctor Who‘s greatest era (that being the Hinchliffe/Holmes era of the mid-70s), the show was known for its homages to classic sci-fi/horror films and literature. In a sense, we have a revisiting of that philosophy in “The Zygon Invasion,” which is essentially Doctor Who‘s take on District 9, Alien Nation, as well as the obvious and perpetually Zygon-related comparison to Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

ZygonLair

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DWGH in stock at Barnes & Noble

DWGHcover-webA quick note to say that my book is now in stock at the Atlanta Perimeter Barnes & Noble location! At the moment there are five copies in stock just waiting to be taken to a good Whovian home! If you don’t live in the Atlanta area, you can always order a copy at:

https://www.createspace.com/5572586

Makes a great gift for newer fans of the show; gives readers a good overview of every era of the show.

A race of war machines who conquer the Earth in the 22nd Century; a brilliant painter who sees the world in a unique way; a reptilian species that sees the Earth as theirs and and intends to reclaim it; a time-traveling archaeology professor who never meets the Doctor in the right order; a dangerous world leader who bears a striking resemblance to the Doctor; murderous circus clowns; wind up toy soldiers; wind up service robots; and the Doctor as a little boy. With over 50 years of television stories, DOCTOR WHO has introduced its audience to some of the strangest creatures, weirdest places, and most dangerous times. DOCTOR WHO’s GREATEST HITS takes a loving look at some of the Doctor’s most memorable adventures. From Autons to Zygons, from Hartnell to Capaldi, this book has something for everyone, whether you’re new to the show or a longtime viewer.

History of Sci-Fi Cinema 11: “The Thing From Another World”

The Thing From Another World (1951)
Written by Charles Lederer, Howard Hawks & Ben Hecht, based on the novella Who Goes There? by John W Campbell, Jr.
Directed by Christian Nyby (or possibly Howard Hawks)
Starring Kenneth Tobey, Douglas Spencer, Dewey Martin, James Arness
1:27:00

One of the most influential films of all time, this is the quintessential “base under siege” story. A group of military personnel along with a “newspaper man” (as he’s repeatedly referred to) are sent to the north pole to investigate reports, by a team of scientists stationed there, of a crashed suspected UFO. The destroy the flying saucer but learn that it had an occupant, which has survived. It was, according to Wikipedia, the 46th most successful movie of 1951, but the most successful sci-fi movie, outselling both The Day the Earth Stood Still and When Worlds Collide (which we’ll take a look at next). Critics at the time weren’t too kind to it, but over the decades it has become regarded as one of the milestones in sci-fi cinema.

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ST50 #50: “Remember Me” (TNG)

“If there’s nothing wrong with me, maybe there’s something wrong with the universe!” LCARS-50

Logo-TNG“REMEMBER ME”
Star Trek: The Next Generation
Written by Lee Sheldon
Directed by Cliff Bole
Original Air Date October 22, 1990
Guest Stars: Erik Menyuk (The Traveler)

Dr. Beverly Crusher’s world is collapsing in on her. Quite literally. People she knows and loves are disappearing, and the remaining ones have no memory of their ever existing. As the crisis increases, and the entire ship’s complement is down to just her and Picard, she goes from worried to panicky to desperately and aggressively analytical. Gates McFadden gives a fantastic performance as a woman who is losing everything around her. This story was originally conceived as the B-plot to the episode “Family” (the one in which Picard returns to Earth after his ordeal as Locutus), but it was felt that a single episode would not accommodate both storylines, so this subplot was spun out as “Remember Me” and made into the fifth episode of the season. McFadden performed all her own stunts, discovering only shortly afterward that she was pregnant.

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