In Cinefantastique’s final Black Hole Ultra-Lounge Podcast of 2013, Dan Persons and Steve Biodrowski wrestle with the trailer for LEGEND OF HERCULES, travel to the end of Matt Smith’s time as the Doctor, examine the current slate of home video releases for Tuesday, December 31, and explore the public domain horrors of NIGHTMARE CASTLE (a.k.a. AMANTI DOLTRATOMBA [“Lovers from Beyond the Tomb”]), a 1965 Gothic chiller starring Queen of Horror Barbara Steele. The highlight is a review of TIME OF THE DOCTOR, in which Matt Smith winds up his tenure as the famous Time Lord and turns the TARDIS over to Peter Capaldi. Is it a worthwhile farewell or simply a gimmicky geek lovefest? Listen in to find out!
Cinefantastique’s Black Hole Ultra-Lounge Podcast returns from the grave, offering a colorful cornucopia of horror, fantasy, and science fiction news and reviews. Correspondents Dan Persons, Lawrence French, and Steve Biodrowski size up the new GODZILLA teaser trailer, examine the Oscar Academy’s finalists for Best Special Effects, and bid farewell to actor Peter O’Toole (most known for his great dramatic roles, though he did a handful of genre movies, too).
Next, Steve reviews THE DAY OF THE DOCTOR on DVD. Larry recounts the extended cut of THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY. Dan enthuses over the animated television show WANDER OVER YONDER. And we wrap up with a trip to the Borderland: reviewing the non-genre SAVING MR. BANKS, because it recounts the behind-the-scenes story of the making of PETER PAN, the animated fantasy classic from Walt Disney Pictures.
Ever wonder what happend to the Paul McGann version of Doctor Who? You know, the one who appeared in the 1996 film on Fox TV? Low ratings put that version of the Doctor in limbo, and the franchise remained dormant for years, until the BBC resurrected the iconic Time Lord for a revamped DOCTOR WHO television series in 2004, starring Christopher Eccleston. During the interim, McGann remained the “official” Doctor, in the sense that it was his likeness that appeared on merchandising tie-ins (novelizations, etc), but he never got another shot at playing the character on screen, until now.
THE NIGHT OF THE DOCTOR is a seven-minute short subject, billed as a prequel to THE DAY OF THE DOCTOR, the 50th anniversary special that will screen for one night only in U.S. theatres on November 25, two days after its premiere on British television. In this mini-episode, we finally learn the fate of the Eighth Doctor. We won’t give it away, except to say that, as you can probably guess, it involves a regeneration; John Hurt is involved in some way; and the time frame is during the devastating Dalek war referenced in the Eccleston episodes. This is just an appetizer, of course; but it certainly suggest that THE DAY OF THE DOCTOR will be something spectacular.
THE ANGELS TAKE MANHATTAN,
And a look at Season 7.0
The short 2012 seventh season of the revived DOCTOR WHO has been a highly variable, and ultimately less than satisfying one.
It hasn’t been terrible, just far too brief, and filled with interesting premises but at times rather lackluster execution. Part of this is due to the nature of TV in the UK as opposed to the US. Here in the States, we viewers are a little spoiled by generally having twenty to twenty-two episodes of a series a year. If there are a couple of clinker episodes, one can gloss over that fact.
In Britain, most shows are now fortunate to have thirteen episodes. (We’re getting used to this pattern here with some cable series.)
However, largely due to economic concerns, the BBC only allowed for five episodes this fall, with a Christmas special to round things off to six. Technically, there will another eight shows to Season Seven airing in 2013, but it’s going to feel more like a new season— 7.5 if you will (as the DVD marketing practices seem to indicate), as some substantive changes will have taken place.
The season started off well enough with Asylum of the Daleks.
The next episode, Dinosaurs On A Spaceship, seemed pointless, as though it was made chiefly because the producers really liked the central conceit of dinosaurs on a space ship. There were little character moments that were nice, touches of comedy, but also what seemed like an unnecessary bit of anti-Semitic stereotyping for the profit-obsessed villain Solomon. There were plenty of nice effects, too bad there wasn’t a more compelling story to match the expense. A Town Called Mercy was a fun idea, but the Western show (shot in Spain) seemed rushed, predictable, and forced —with the regulars seeming somewhat out of character, without much dramatic preparation or explanation. It was nice to see Farscape/Stargate SG-1’s Ben Browder in a DOCTOR WHO episode, and he did well in a under-written role.
The Power of Three gave us an unusual look at the lives of the Doctor’s companions, and some insight into the Time Lord’s lack of interest in living in linear time, full of what is for him life’s dull or just ordinary moments. It also added to our understanding of how much Amy and Rory mean to this incarnation of the Doctor.
This weekend’s The Angels Take Manhattanwas a return to the emotional power that writer/producer Stephen Moffat can bring to the fore, and the skills of the actors. It also demonstrated one of his weaknesses; he admits he views the Doctor’s adventures as fairy tales, rather than science fiction. This leaves the door open to a lack of internal logic (when viewing the time-traveling series as a whole), and willingness to do silly, unbelievable things just because they look cool.
The Weeping Angels are back, and they’ve isolated a point in 1938 Manhattan. This draws the attention of the Doctor’s wife River Song (Alex Kingston), and soon draws in the Doctor (Matt Smith), Amy Pond (Karen Gillan), and Rory Williams (Arthur Darvill). This is done rather cleverly, via a book that the Doctor is reading, and the need not to read ahead or otherwise “cheat” points up the facts that the players are characters in a story. In the future, the time-traveling River will write the book. Reading the words actually makes the future happen, a predestination paradox. The rules of this concept are somewhat arbitrary; some make sense, while others simply do not.
Even the rules of the Angels seem to have been forgotten. Since the Angels take the form of statues that can only move when no one is looking at them (and now apparently can take the place and form of existing statues) one would think they would have to be quite stealthy. Shown previously to be unable to move even if looking at each other, they now seem to have no problem with this limitation.
Making even less sense, and doubtless because he couldn’t resist the image, the giant form of the Statue of Liberty is also an Angel, and we hear it stomping noisily around the City that never sleeps, apparently unseen by the eight million -strong populace of New York. So we see it turn up, looming over the apartment building the Angles had taken over — Twice. Once in the teaser and again later in the episode, ruining any surprise —as well as a nice, darkly humorous line.
The episode ends with the Doctor and his beloved companions separated permanently by a time distortion and “fixed point” in history; we must assume that Amy and Rory are sometime in NYC’s past (possibly 1938 to the point of their deaths), and the Doctor can NEVER see them again.
This would seem to fly in the face of the fact that the TARDIS travels in Time And Relative Dimensions In Space. One would think that the two marooned companions could perhaps drive to New Jersey (or further) and wait a year or so to be out of the range of the presumably localized anomaly, but apparently not. But this fairly obvious point is not addressed, not even with a line of double-talk. Are we to understand that the Doctor can never again go to New York for a period of forty or so years? Even though he’s been there in that time-frame in previous episodes?
Oh well, at least it’s a dramatic moment, and very well played by the cast. On an emotional level, it works quite nicely, and for that reason I’d call it a good episode. Possibly even very good. But there are so few episodes this year and I wanted more good episodes. Two out of five —maybe three if generous— is simply not enough. DOCTOR WHO: The Angels Take Manhattan
StarringMatt Smith, Karen Gillan, Arthur Darvill , and Alex Kingston . With Mike McShane, Rob David, Ozzie Yue , Bentley Kalu, Burnell Tucker.
Directed by Nick Hurran, Written by Steven Moffat, Produced by Marcus Wilson, Executive producers Steven Moffat and Caroline Skinne.
A BBC production by BBC Wales.
The Producers and stars give us an advance look at DOCTOR WHO’s “The Angels Take Manhattan”.
This Saturday, Sept. 29 at 9:oo PM /Central BBC America gives us the final episode of the Fall 2012 season of the revived series. The Doctor’s (Matt Smith) companions Amy Pond and Rory Williams (Arthur Darvill) will be leaving the show in what’s promised to be a dramatic fashion.
Then at 11:00 PM/10:00 Central, the cable station presents an original special, DOCTOR WHO IN THE U.S., in which they “uncover the Doctor’s special relationship with the U.S., from Daleks to robot gunslingers.”
DOCTOR WHO is back on BBC America for the seventh season of that revived series in Asylum of the Daleks.
As we return to the show, we find that the Doctor is on the planet Skarro, radioactive homeworld of his greatest foes, the Daleks. He’s there to answer the call of a woman (Anamaria Marinca) that claims to need his help to resue her daughter from a Dalek prison planet. The doctor is skeptical, as she claims to have escaped, but he knows that no one escapes such places. And he’s right, of course; it’s a trap.
Back on Earth we, discover that Amy Pond (Karen Gillan) and Rory Williams (Arthur Darvill), the Doctor’s married companions have broken up. Rory interrupts model Amy’s photo shoot with the final divorce papers. No sooner is that drama played out than they are abducted and brought to the “Parliment of the Daleks”.
It seems the murderous xenophobic race want the Doctor to ‘save’ them, as a broadcast of the opera Carmen is flooding their transmissions, originating from their Asylum planet, wherein they keep the damaged and insane members of their race. It’s a surprise that the evil pepperpots are so concerned about their wounded, it seems they can not bear to see such perfect hatred destroyed.
They can’t investigate the situation themselves, or even destroy their brethren as the planet has a forcefield that can only be turned off from inside the underground Asylum, though they can punch a brief hole in it to transport the Doctor and his companions to the surface. An added complication: the planet is intentionally infested with a nano-machine plague that turns all organic matter, living or dead into Dalek puppets.
So naturally, one of the companions wil lose the bracelet they are given to ward off this fate—in this case, Amy.
It turns out the music and disruptions are being caused by Oswin Oswald ( Jenna-Louise Coleman) a young ‘super-genius’ that appears to be the lone survivor of the crashed Earth ship Alaska. However, what’s really going on is darker and more tragic than initially expected.
It’s a pretty good season opener, though some things seem out of tune. Amy and Rory’s spilt seems out of the blue, and the underlying reason that even Rory isn’t aware of is revealed in a of line of dialog that didn’t seem to have any build-up or foreshadowing.
The nano-virus and conversion of people into Daleks appears off-kilter. Wouldn’t this storyline be much better applied to the Doctor’s other man-into-machine adversaries, the Cybermen?
One nice tie-in to Season Six, and this is a big SPOILER, is that Oswin manages to tap into the Dalek’s cyber-telepathic “Path-Net” and erase all knowlege of the Doctor. This leads to a nice scene at the end of the amassed Daleks asking “Doctor WHO?” Though it did seem odd that erasure of the Doctor’s data would lead to individual amnesia for all the Daleks, who are mutated life forms encased in a mobile shell, and NOT robots.
Speaking of spoilers,—although is is actually more of a puzzle— is that Oswin was played by Jenna-Louise Coleman, who is slated to become the Doctor’s new compaion Clara in this years’ Christmas special, after Amy & Rory leave the show.
Will Coleman’s Clara be Oswin, or perhaps some relative? Hard to tell in a time-traveling show. For those of us who only travel trough the years day by day, we’ll have to wait until then. DOCTOR WHO: Asylum of the Daleks.
Starring Matt Smith, Karen Gillan, Arthur Darvill. Guests: Jenna-Louise Coleman, Anamaria Marinca (Darla von Karlsen), David Gyasi (Harvey), Naomi Ryan (Cassandra).
Directed by Nick Hurran, Written by Steven Moffat, Produced by Marcus Wilson, Executive Producers Steven Moffat and Caroline Skinner.
BBC One/Wales. Aprx. 50 minutes in original form.
Via BBC AMERICA, here’s the first teaser trailer for the seventh season of the revived DOCTOR WHO.
In addition to the Doctor (Matt Smith), we see Amy & Rory (Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill) as well as our first look at Ben Browder’s (FARSCAPE, STARGATE SG-1) character, a lawman in an anachronistic Western town. And a Cyborg gun-slinger, scenes on a dismal beach where all is not well, a snowy landscape with oddities of its own, and much more.
The BBC reports that Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill, who play the popular couple Amy Pond and Rory on DOCTOR WHO, will be leaving the series during the bext season.
Writer/Producer Steven Moffat confiremed the news at a press screening of this year’s Christmas special.
“The final days of the Ponds are coming,” said Moffat, referring to the married couple to travel as the companions of the Doctor (Matt Smith). “I’m not telling you when or how, but that story is going to come to a heartbreaking end.”
The producer went on to say that the Doctor would new a “new friend”. The BBC indicated that the rolee has likely not yet been cast.
Star Matt Smith said of his co-stars:
“We had the most incredible journey. We took over the show and we’ve really had to hold hands and help each other through it.
So it’s very disappointing, but one has to remember that this show is about change and regeneration, and that’s what galvanizes it and pushes it forwards.”
In additional news, Moffat and Smith guested on BBC Radio 5’s Live’s Richard Bacon Show, and the producer made the following comments about HARRY POTTER director David Yates’ recent comment about a possible “out-of-continuity” stand-alone DOCTOR WHO feature film.
David (Yates) was talking a little out of turn, there; a very, very brilliant director but no, the film as described by him, of course we’re not going to do that. A film that contradicts the television series, it would be a heathen thing to do … I would be ‘beheaded’ to do such a thing!
It would be wonderful to do a Doctor Who film, but when and if we did —and hopefully we will be doing it—it will be very much an offshoot of the television series and we’ll be part of it, and it will star the television Doctor, of course—anything else would be heresy!