Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Time of the Doctor - Review

Was there any way that this story could possibly live up to expectations? THIS story, THE last story of the Eleventh Doctor, THE story when Matt Smith regenerates, , THE follow-up to “The Day of the Doctor” with our first look at Peter Capaldi’s Doctor, THE story screened (within a day or so, probably) simultaneously across the globe. Surely it can’t live up to that kind of hype? Um, no, no it seems it can’t.

On the whole, this is not so much a Doctor Who story, more of a wrapping up of loose ends and an almost episode long drawn-out final scene for Matt Smith. There are various bits of running around but ultimately, not much actually happens apart from the regeneration.

It starts in reasonably promising style – the Doctor’s appearance at Clara’s Xmas dinner, where he appears fully clothed to us watching and to Clara but then reveals that he’s still actually naked and appearing so to Clara’s family made me laugh like a drain.
But when we head off to Trenzalore, we just begin the long slow end of the Doctor. Yes, we know the prophecy said that this is where he dies so it’s all a bit foreboding. And yes, it is a surprise to have it very simply confirmed that Smith is in fact the 13th Doctor (number 9 was actually Hurt’s War Doctor, Eccleston bumped to no 10, and Tennant managing to be both 11 and 12) and therefore the absolute last one. BUT, we also know full well that Peter Capaldi has been cast as the next Doctor (because there was a live TV special) so there is bound to be some timey-wimey-ness to allow the regeneration to take place, so it’s not like the Doctor’s impending “death” is anything to get too stressed about.

Coleman is reduced back to the companion that occasionally hangs out with the Doctor as opposed to actually travelling with him. She calls him up, gets sent away, comes back again, gets sent away again and then comes back again. She lets a big old tear run down her face (again), and gets to do the Impossible Girl bit (again) to save the day. Is it a little insulting to her character that at the very end, the Doc still hallucinates one last goodbye to Amy Pond?
Actually, it’s possibly more insulting that the better companion is an old cyberman head that the Doctor has called Handles. Handles’ final demise as he watches one last Trenzalore sunset is one of the episode’s more touching moments.

Smith, almost needless to say, is superb, playing his usual manic self, then a slightly less sprightly 300 year older self and finally a near to death self. He does manage to bring a slight tear to the eye as his doddery form makes it to the top of the tower for one last rant at the Daleks.
And then he explodes (thanks to Clara’s plea to the timelords) with an all new load of regenerations and obliterates the Daleks.
Back in the Tardis, young again, briefly, he finally regenerates into a boggly-eyed Peter Capaldi with a suitably wacky cliffhanger “would you know how to fly this thing?”

The Time of the Doctor would always struggle to follow The Day of the Doctor, I found myself surprisingly unexcited as this episode came round. Whereas the big anniversary episode managed to avoid being a greatest hits of Who, The Time of the Doctor became just that – menacing Daleks, a few Cybermen, Weeping Angels in the snow, hissing Silences and silly Sontarans.
A few nice moments, but otherwise a disappointing end to a great Doctor’s run.

I’ll get to a more full overview of Matt Smith’s era, but for now, will say that it’s heights were the very best of nu-Who but Season 6, especially its second half, let the whole period down.
Matt Smith, though, was never less than excellent. His final line was beautiful:

“I will not forget one line of this. Not one day. I swear. I will always remember when the Doctor was me.

So will I, Matt Smith, so will I.

PS - if you want lots more Who reviews, covering all 50 years, then nip over to "Review the Who", where you will find my, more reasoned, reviews of the Matt Smith era along with a boatload of great writing about the greatest show in the Universe.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Doctor Who - The Day of the Doctor Review

Was there any way that this story could possibly live up to expectations? THIS story, THE 50th Anniversary story, THE story with the Tennant/ Smith team-up (with Rose Tyler too), THE follow-up to “The Name of the Doctor” with the scary “new” Doctor played by John Hurt, THE story screened simultaneously across the globe and shown in 3D in cinemas. Surely it can’t live up to that kind of hype? Except it does.

I’ve cheerfully criticised much of what’s gone on in the Name of the Moffat (Series 6, for example) but with these 72 minutes of undiluted Whovian fun, the Moff has nailed it.
Simply watching it in the cinema made it special to start with. First off, we were treated to Strax, the comedy Sontaran, telling us how to behave, then an intro by Smith then Tennant sparring about the wonders of 3D. And then the story began. Moffat started plucking the heartstrings of the fans right from the get go – we open with the original 1963 titles and music and the opening shot is a copy of THE opening shot, before we open out to reveal full colour and find Clara working at Coal Hill School (Chairman of the Board is I. Chesterton – one the Doc’s very first companions). Applause all round.

It’s not all nostalgia; there is an actual story going on. It weaves from the “Fall of Arcadia”, the pivotal event of The Time War, where John Hurt’s “War Doctor” has to commit the act that will destroy Daleks, Time Lords and Gallifrey itself and end the universe-spanning conflict altogether. To do this, he must activate The Moment, a weapon so devastating that it has its own conscience – manifested as a character from the Doctor’s future, being Rose Tyler/ Bad Wolf – a slick way of bringing Billie Piper into the story without the complications of picking up Rose herself. It is Rose that stays the War Doctor’s hand and sparks the “timey-wimey” events that bring three Doctors together.
From here, we catch up with the 10th Doc in Elizabethan England, finding himself involved in a Zygon plot (and getting himself engaged to Queen Elizabeth herself). The 11th Doc dives through time and, at last, the two meet, followed swiftly by the War Doctor (“I’m looking for the Doctor” he says, “You’ve come to the right place,” says No 10).
Fun and jollies with the Zygons (who are on fairly scary form actually) follow, before we get back to the serious business of hitting the Big button that will wipe out the Time Lords and Daleks. At first, Nos 10 and 11 are simply there to be with the War Doctor to press the button and share the burden...BUT, Clara does what Clara does and persuades them to find another way – saving the Doctor(s) yet again.
And it’s a way that brilliantly brings in all of the other Doctors – and we mean ALL of the other Doctors including a brief shot of the new Doctor, Peter Capaldi, and provoking a fair few shrieks from the cinema audience.
The day is saved and, thanks to a very familiar “curator”, the Doctor is given new purpose – to find the lost planet of Gallifrey.

There’s so much to love here – Smith and Tennant are on OTT form, both firing on all cylinders in a display of constant one-upmanship – when the War Doctor arrives we get a wonderful parallel with the original Three Doctors – I was half expecting Hurt to say “so you’re my replacements, a dandy and a clown.” Hurt is more subtle, as expected from the Doctor that’s suffered 400 years of brutal warfare and must bear the heaviest burden of all.
The battles on Gallifrey are suitably epic – scenes that could never be conceived back in the Classic era, but they are kept at an appropriate level – the explosions do not overtake the drama.

This story could have been a weighty, “dark” episode – but instead, Moffat gives us mostly a fun-filled, old fashioned monster (Zygon) romp, fun that is bookended by the darker material.
There’s a lot of humour – No10 and Elizabeth (after Queenie dispatches her Zygon double she notes that “while I may have the weak and feeble body of a woman, so did the Zygon”), the superb and complex way the three Docs work out how to disintegrate a solid wooden door with their sonic screwdrivers (letting the War Doctor’s screwdriver start the calculations that will take 400 years and thus be completed by the 11th Doc’s screwdriver) before Clara opens it and reveals it was unlocked anyway. There’s great supporting characters; Clara and Rose, Kate Stewart and her UNIT team, Queen Elizabeth. There’s a long, long scarf and a Fez (“Can you not walk past one without putting it on?” quips Clara). The aforementioned glimpse of Doctor no 13 (which means Doc’s 10 and 11 should be moved up to Nos 11 and 12). And then there’s Tom Baker – the man who will always be, perhaps, THE Doctor.

The way that the Doctors save Gallifrey is truly inspired – presaged by their attempt at door disintegration, they form a plan to make the planet disappear and let the Daleks destroy themselves – but it will take centuries to make the calculations says the Time Lord General. But that’s OK, because when the First Doctor is the first to start working on it, then they have centuries.

And so, what could have been a very good story of 3 Doctors becomes a truly great story of 13 Doctors.

This special was described by its Producers as a love letter to the fans; and there’s a lot of love on display. From the Tardis swinging across London, and a full on Dalek planetary assault, and horse rides with the Queen, and Timelord paintings, and sonic screwdriver rivalry, acknowledging the UNIT dating conundrum... to the darkest decision of all, the regeneration loop all wrapped up and the impossible girl reminding us all that the Doctor is called The Doctor for a reason. And, a terribly familiar curator launching the show into the future.

The Day of the Doctor is many things – it is a celebration of the show’s rich and wonderful past, it is a celebration of its current and hugely successful present and it is a hint of a thrilling future. Past, present and future – it is a show about time travel after all.

Happy Birthday Doctor Who – it’s been a hell of a ride so far, and who knows what the future holds? Who knows? Who knows.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Obama pulls a Homer

It strikes me that the recent turn of events surrounding Syria, the Chemical weapons, threatened military action and so forth, have resulted in President Obama “pulling a Homer”.

For those not-so-dedicated Simpsons fans, the phrase is defined as “to succeed despite idiocy” – in the episode “Homer defined”, Homer accidentally causes the nuclear plant to go into meltdown, then, by dumb luck, manages to avert the meltdown and save the plant, Springfield etc.

With Syria, when Obama declared that using Chemical weapons was a “red line” that Assad could not cross, he effectively forced his own hand into action when these vile weapons were deployed.

If only it were as simple as Fox News would like – The US of A could destroy Assad’s Chemical weapons capabilities, deal a crippling blow to his evil regime, and the “good guys” of the Syrian resistance would sweep Assad from power and a new era of peace, democracy and better oil trading with the West would begin. Of course, Obama found himself in a far more complex situation. IF, it could be proved that Assad deployed the chemical weapons, IF it were possible to locate the weapons, If it were possible to destroy them without civilian casualties, IF the US could do this as part of a truly International effort with a UN mandate...then, just maybe, all would work out fine.

But, with his major ally showing no stomach for any action (being Britain, and I suspect a possibly relieved David Cameron who may have looked weak when he lost the vote, but at least avoided getting sucked into conflict), Russia and China certainly not letting any use of force to pass through the UN, and the US Congress being mighty reluctant to authorize military action – Obama found himself looking ineffective and guilty of making empty threats.

This is where dumb luck (for Obama) comes in – a casual remark by John Kerry suddenly becomes a Russian Peace initiative.

On the surface, you could say that Obama comes out of this looking terrible - the Russians bat the useless American efforts at sabre-rattling aside, prevent escalating violence and bring Assad to the peace table. And a humiliating address to the American people by Putin in a US newspaper can never be a good thing to happen under your Presidency.

However, looking at this in another way....

With the threat of American force, Obama has made Russia, who have long stood in the way of any sanctions that might have curbed Assad’s brutality, come to step up and actually take some responsible action. Russia may score a few points right now, but if/ when Assad fails to comply with demands to surrender his chemical weapons, they will surely be forced to take a harder line.

So – Obama may succeed in removing Assad’s WMDs, he also may have neutralized future Russian blocks to meaningful further action against Assad; which also means Assad loses a lot of the support of one of his biggest allies. Obama has not handed Syria to a bunch of extreme Jihadists by just cutting Assad’s regime away – and he’s managed to do this without firing a single American bullet.

Bush used shock and awe (and billions of dollars and thousands of lives) to achieve only worldwide contempt for the US and plunge Iraq into bloody civil war. Obama made a threat and may have neutralized a brutal and oppressive regime.

Time will tell of course – I think there is, sadly, a lot more blood still to be shed by the people of Syria. While the various deals/ proposals etc being bandied around at the moment may offer a glimmer of hope that, at least, the Chemical weapons may be taken out of the equation, history tells us that strong words frequently mean nothing.

But, if this does turn out to the good – ie Chemical weapons removed and destroyed, Obama may well have scored a significant victory – even though it might come about in spite of, instead of because of, his actions.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Doctor Who - Season 7 Review/ rambling....

First things first Season 7 was way better than Season 6. A quick and dirty recap of Season 6:
Impossible Astronaut/ Day of the Moon – a cracking start, nasty aliens, clever resolution with intriguing hints of the larger story to come.
The Curse of the Black Spot – the worst episode since Love and Monsters. Down there with The Twin Dilemma awfulness.
The Doctor’s Wife – sort of interesting, but over-indulgent
The Rebel Flesh/ The Almost People – actually, quite good
A Good Man goes to War – a long way up itself, but with enough thrills and spills to be fun, a good twist but let down by the revelation that River was Amy’s daughter
And then came the second half....

Let’s Kill Hitler – Poor
Night Terrors – seen it all before
The Girl who waited – YES, Amy loves Rory, how many times do we have to be told? And look, a robot thing with a catchphrase.
The God Complex – seen it all before, in fact, two episodes ago.
Closing Time – oh please...
The Wedding of River Song – and reset.
So overall, a decent start which nose-dived in the second half. Which brings us to Season Seven. We’ll ignore the 2011 Xmas special because it was terrible.

Asylum of the Daleks – superb, best NuWho since...possibly since Who returned.
Dinosaurs on a Spaceship – almost daft, but they pull it off. A decent villain for a change.
A Town called Mercy – predictable but good stuff.
The Power of Three – surprisingly good despite being yet another sodding character piece.
The Angels Take Manhattan – Weeping Angels have jumped the shark, although the Statue of Liberty as Angel was impressive. But this was good because we finally saw the back of Amy and Rory who had gone on way too long.
The Snowmen – superb, best Nu Who since...oh, Asylum of the Daleks.
The Bells of St John – watchable but not what you’d call good.
The Rings of Akhatan – oh dear, is it Season 6B revisited?
Cold War – thank God NO – Ice Warriors return in style.
Hide – haunted house stories are getting a bit tired, but solid work.
Journey to the Centre of the Tardis – bleuurgh.
The Crimson Horror – Another good villain – that’s two in one season.
Nightmare in Silver – the best Nu Who since....The Snowmen
The Name of the Doctor – a bit of a reset but a good tease for the 50th Special.

My overall gripes are Amy and Rory dragging on and how the mid-season break distorts the flow of stories – we’re just waiting for the mid-season “event”, the rest is almost filler (if sometimes very good filler). Clara was superb in Asylum and the Snowmen but took a few stories to pick up again. Cold War saved the second half and Nightmare brought it home with gusto.
All in all, a great improvement and a great new companion gee’d things up nicely. Season 6 just bogged itself down in too much Amy/ Rory-ness – Season 7 was a return to plain old villains and monsters (and returning villains and monsters), with Daleks and Cybermen getting their best outings for a long while, the revived (should we say defrosted) Ice Warriors and reintroduced Great Intelligence. Matt Smith continued to rise above some mediocre material, but thankfully, not too much mediocre material – in Nightmare in Silver, I’d argue he hit his highest notes yet. Sadly we’ve only got two more adventures with him – the Big Special and then the Xmas episode.
Coming up, though, is even greater excitement – we hope. Who is this “other” Doctor played by John Hurt? What fun and jollies will go down in the 50th Anniversary Special, with Doc no 10 and Rose Tyler returning? And how will No 11 regenerate into No 12 – in the form of Peter Capaldi?

My personal hopes for Season 8:
No mid-season break – 13 straight episodes, please.
Slow down a bit for longer two-parters. Maybe even try for a meaningful three-parter.
Enough of the mysterious companion nonsense. Clara’s role is to have stuff explained to her (and thus, us), lose the Doc and meet the locals and tell the Doc where he is going wrong. She is along for the ride because it is fun; not because she is in love with the Doc or getting over something, or because the Doc is finding out who she is. Note how I have refrained from saying that her role is to look pretty. This is 2013, you know....
How about a nasty, villainous villain doing something nasty that the Doctor will sort out? No need for paradoxical timey-wimey-ness.
New villains and new monsters – once we’re past the Big 50, let’s put the old stuff on ice for a while, shall we?
An episode (or two) commissioned from a bright new writer based in New Zealand, shot in Wellington and directed by my chum* and almost neighbor, Peter Jackson.

Anyhoo - that's my wrapping up. Now, go and buy my ebook, ideal for Dr Who fans - http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/178959

*When I say chum, I have seen him drive past my bus stop several times in his lovely silver Aston Martin DB5. If he stopped and said Hi, I’m sure we’d get on like a house on fire.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Iain M Banks - a wee tribute

Iain Banks, one of our finest sci-fi writers, indeed one of our finest writers, died on June 9th, 2013. It’s always sad when one of your favourite artists passes – the notion that I won’t get to read another new Culture novel, or enjoy the jet black humour of his, supposedly, mainstream fiction is heartbreaking.

“Excession” was the first of his books that I read – a terrific piece of space opera that, for me, blew the genre apart. At the time, to my shame, my sci-fi reading had largely deteriorated to Star Trek and Star Wars levels, in prose at least. In comics I had soared with Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman (among others), but my novel reading remained distinctly pedestrian.
And my rambling attempts at writing had been at wonky, quest based (Tolkien rip-off) sword and sorcery, and a space war-based (Star Wars rip-off) sci-fi.

And then, I picked up “Excession” from the library and realised that imagination could fly so, so much farther.

The Culture (Bank’s super-advanced space-living, egalitarian, super-liberal society) was light years away from the simplistic societies envisaged by the two big sci-fi franchises. Let’s face it, much as I still love Trek and SW, they are really just Earth bound stories and characters thrown into space. They are hardly “real” sci-fi in that they hardly deviate from modern Earth technology. A gun with a laser beam is still just a gun.
Banks took a step back and really thought about where technology could take us.
The stars of the Culture are not boldly going humans – it’s the vast “minds” that are the heart and souls of the city-sized starships. In Excession, the villains of the piece, for want of a better term, are not sinister megalomaniacs intent on conquest and power, it’s a bunch of many legged gas balloons whose whole society revels in cruelty and oppression. And even the “Afront” pale in comparison to the grim society of “the Player of Games”.
The “humans” in the Culture can simply “gland” mood enhancing drugs into their systems, they can transfer their minds into other bodies (alien, human, whatever), they can change gender, they don’t die - unless they choose to, and even then they may be uploaded to a virtual heaven long before they finally decide to switch themselves off.

After reading Excession, my Star Wars rip-off was retired. My Tolkien rip-off is not quite dead, but if it is ever resurrected it will be in a radically different form.
I can’t claim that my writing will ever reach Bank’s giddy heights of imagination, but the lesson learned is that I have to try.

And his so-called mainstream work? Read “The Wasp Factory” and ask yourself how mainstream that is.

When I see yet another sodding vampire/ werewolf/ shadow world beneath our world/ kids of destiny with exceptional powers story on the shelves – I wonder how those writers live with themselves. Of course, my own work is probably a pale rip-off of Iain Bank’s so I can’t get too judgmental.

I have few regrets in life, BUT – on the one time I actually got to meet the great man, I didn’t ask him anything. He was signing copies of “Dead Air” in a bookshop near my work one lunchtime – I bought a copy in a rush and got it signed for my brother as a Xmas prezzie – I was rushing so much I didn’t think to ask him to explain what the hell “Walking on Glass” was about, or just what that thing was in “Excession”, or at what point in writing “Use of Weapons” did the big twist come to him....

I was lucky enough to meet his one-time publishing editor, John Jarrold*, who explained how he handled the big twist in the publicity and just why “Inversions” is actually a Culture novel, NOT sword and sorcery as my non sci-fi reading friend once thought.

For those who have not read Iain Banks, I’d suggest starting with “Consider Phlebas” as a first Iain M Banks – it’s the first Culture novel and a great trip around how it works. As for the equally superb Iain Banks (without the M) work – maybe try “Espedair Street” as it’s not as jarring as “The Wasp Factory”. Frankly, anything with his name, with or without an “M” will take you places that you never thought you’d go.

To those who knew and loved Mr Banks, their loss must be immeasurable and my thoughts are with them. One hopes it is a small comfort that his work will live on, and continue to excite readers forever.

A wee bit of Culture fan-fic/ flash fic.....

“I need to sublime.”
-Ahem, the Culture does NOT sublime.
“Ok, how can I shuffle off this mortal coil?”
-There’s always the after-life. And there’s lots of options.
“No. That’s just a different kind of physical plane. I want out. Altogether.”
-Tricky. No one has died in the Culture for millenia. Ten thousand years ago, some guy managed to get his body dropped into a star from a non-Culture ship a long way from any Culture influence. Even then, we were able to reconstruct him.
“I know. And I wish you’d never bothered.”
-Heh. No one f**ks with the Culture.

And at some point I will do my Doctor Who Season 7 summing up – hell, what about the Doctor meeting the Culture? Now that would be a Who story and a half...

*And if it wasn’t for John Jarrold, I probably wouldn’t still be trying to write to this day – but that’s another story.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

DOCTOR WHO REVIEW - The Name of the Doctor

The Name of the Doctor

I feel a little conned. I did NOT learn the Name of the Doctor. River Song knows it, and seems to be the only one that does. When did he actually tell her?
However, apart from a niggling manipulation of our expectations, this episode was almost an epic conclusion to the series and prequel/ lead-in/ cliffhanger for the 50th Anniversary story.
I say “almost”. This is a story that you don’t want to step back and think about too much. Motivations for the Conference call between Madame Vastra, Jenny, Strax, Clara and River seem somewhat spurious. The whispermen are not really explained. The Great Intelligence’s Great scheme to wipe out the Doctor seems a little simplistic and considering how terrible and dangerous mucking about with time is, the Doc seems to make easy work of doing just that.
On the plus side – there is tremendous pace – the Whispermen can’t be stopped by a wave of the Sonic screwdriver so when they’re after you, you’d really better run. Trenzalore is brilliantly realised and the colossal expanded Tardis is a sight to behold.
The opening is one for old fans (such as myself) to love – the scene where the First Doctor goes to steal a Tardis with Susan (which surely tells us that Susan is a Time Lady – could she regenerate at some point?. One assumes she still lives on future, post Dalek Invasion Earth). And then, fleeting glimpses of the other Doctors and Clara – she is The Impossible Girl, destined to save the Doctor over and over again.
The explanation is a classic bit of Moffat timey-wimey-ness; she has to throw herself into the Doc’s timeline to counter-act the Great Intelligence’s effect after he threw himself into the Doc’s timeline, which is why she can keep on turning up to save the Doctor’s life. Which begs a paradoxical question – so where has she been all this time?
And then, the explanation of the episode title – not the Doctor’s name as in first name and surname, but “IN” the name of the Doctor – all of which sends us charging into the forgotten Doctor, as played by John Hurt (and with a big shiny caption to make sure we understand who he is), which will roll into the BIG 50th anniversary.
I could criticize this episode – essentially it’s a load of running around heading ever closer to a terrible place with terrible consequences – but when they get to the terrible end, it’s really a chance for a load of exposition and it’s all sorted out by a leaf. But it’s done with a lot of style, so we’ll let it go.
And now that we know who Clara is, hopefully she can stop being a story arc and finally step up to being the sassy and saucy wonder that we loved in Asylum of the Daleks. With the announcement that Matt Smith will be leaving us after the 50th Anniversary story and then the 2013 Xmas episode, we should get to see Clara usher in a new Doctor. Exciting stuff ahead.
Next week, I’ll chuck together a rambling appraisal of the whole of Season 7. In the meantime, we’ll bring in the last episode of our flash-fic/ fan-fic. I was completely stuck for an ending, having written myself into a total hole. BUT, hey, we have a fresh new slice of Who canon to work with now....

Consequences of Time Episode 8

“What about reversing the polarity flow?” said Clara.
The Doctor paused. Had Clara always been there? Did she get out of the van with Graf? No time to care. Graf didn’t seem fazed.
The Doctor ran to the big box. Graf took a step, Clara caught him.
“STOP NOW!”
“This won’t hurt a bit,” muttered the Doctor. He made an adjustment, fired up his sonic screwdriver.
The thundering soundwave floored them all.
Time flickered. As the Doctor, Graf and Clara stood, a crowd of bewildered people stood around the machine. The wind was rising. No-one was dying. No-one had died.


And there we have it. Once again, the value of pre-planning comes to the fore and would have meant me not having a colossal cop-out, reset button ending. However, if it’s good enough for Steven Moffat, it’s good enough for me.
Tomorrow – a wee tribute to the Great Iain Banks, who has sadly passed away, although one assumes he has been uploaded to the Culture.

Friday, May 31, 2013

DOCTOR WHO REVIEW - Nightmare in Silver

Nightmare in Silver
Now we’re cooking with gas, or to be more accurate, Neil Gaiman is. I said in my review of Cold War that it was nudging The Snowmen and Asylum of the Daleks in quality. Nightmare in Silver is right up alongside those two – rating as one of the best Nu-Who’s of them all, and definitely the best Nu-Who Cyberman story.
This season has been a little uneven, but the consistent note of excellence has been Matt Smith – and in this story he is better than ever. He gets to play the Doc (of course) but is also on fire as the Doctor possessed (implanted?) by the Cyber-planner consciousness. I’ve often found a lack of strong villain characters in Nu-Who, but this season has made amends (Daleks being supremely villainous, that nasty sod with the Dinosaurs, The Great Intelligence, Celia Imrie, the Ice Warrior, Diana Rigg) – and Smith, himself, provides possibly the best.
There is strong support all round – the soldiers are great, Warwick Davis is wonderful and Jenna-Louise Coleman’s Clara is now firing on all cylinders – being put in charge by the Doc, and making sure that no one blows up the planet.
The Cybermen get a thorough upgrade (naturally). Part of me worried that they were turning a bit Borg, especially the implants and ability to upgrade on the fly. However, as we Who fans all know, the Borg were ripped-off Cybermen in the first place (I’m ashamed to say that the Borg were the Cybermen done right) so I see this episode as just the Cybermen retaining their place as THE sci-fi cyborg/ robot men type of villain. Frankly, even The Terminator would have trouble against these Cybermen.
The story has mystery, then pace, then action, then scariness, then a big reveal, and then a big explosion. What more do you want?
Next time – The Name of the Doctor. Which has some of my UK chums in a right tizzy – in a good way....

And now, can I possibly make some sense out of this flash fic story?

Consequences of Time - Episode Seven

“Would you be the Frozen Terror?” asked the Doctor.
“LET THE SACRIFICE PROCEED.”
Graf started walking forwards. The wind began to pick up again.
“Stop,” shouted the Doctor. Graf halted. The wind died.
“IF THE SACRIFICE STOPS, THE WIND STOPS,” said the Black Box.
“So?” shrugged the Doctor. Beside him, Graf gasped.
“THE WIND WILL STOP.”
“All wind stops,” said Graf. “No wind, no power, no people.”
“Wind happens naturally. You don’t need people to fuel it,” said the Doctor.
“THE WIND IS CONTROLLED. THERE IS NO NATURE.”
The Doctor used the Sonic Screwdriver. Not good, not good at all.