Fake News Central – “The Pyramid at the End of the World” & “The Lie of the Land”

billpyramidAlas, due to busyness in my personal and professional life these reviews are going to be doubled-up again this week. Perhaps the timing is fortuitous, though. In a way “Oxygen,” “Extremis,” “The Pyramid at the End of the World” and “The Lie of the Land” all serve as, if not a true four-part story in the strictest sense, at least four stories connected by common narrative threads, motifs, and themes: the Doctor’s blindness, the Monks, and the notion of constructed realities and “fake news.” Indeed, Chrissie — who runs the invaluable transcript website chakoteya.net — posted her latest transcript with the hope that “this concludes this weird fake news trilogy”. If we’re more liberal and include “Oxygen,” making this into a quartet, then these four middle stories account for a third of the entire season. Whereas Davies maintained a fairly consistent and even formulaic structure each year of his tenure, you have to give Moffat some brownie points for continuing to experiment with the pacing and structure of his seasons and narrative arcs.

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I Need to Know What’s Real – “Oxygen” & “Extremis Review”

oxygenMuch like the Doctor, I have a confession to make. Due to good but distracting life circumstances, such as my recently completed M.A. thesis chat (which you can watch here) and my impending trip to Signum University’s Mythmoot conference I’ve fallen a bit behind on my reviews, and consequently we’re going to have to double up this week in order to get back on track. While this isn’t ideal, the two episodes do actually have a fair bit of continuity with the Doctor’s [spoiler alert] blindness constituting a kind of mid-season mini-arc, so hopefully this will flow nicely enough. To be perfectly honest, these are two rather dense and difficult episodes and so part of my tardiness may also result from the fact that I’m still processing them. It may not be until the end of this arc or even the end of the season that I’m able to fully appreciate what Moffat & co. are doing here. But like the virtue brought about by extreme conditions, so blog posts must sometimes be written under a tight schedule. Proceed we must.

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The One Who Brought You Into This World – “Knock Knock” Review

knockknockmovingAn interesting fact about series 10 of Doctor Who is that there is only one new writer. This isn’t entirely unprecedented. Naturally the first series of New Who featured an entirely new stable of writers (although all had written for DW in other mediums and were experienced television writers). Several other seasons of New Who feature only two or three writers making their Who introductions. Series 7 is actually the only other one to only introduce one new writer (Neil Cross, who wrote two scripts that year) but series 7 is in many ways an odd duck: Split up into two halves across 2012-2013 and bearing the thankless burden of allowing Moffat to gear up for the 50th Anniversary Special, write out Matt Smith and the Ponds, and introduce a new companion in Clara. His distraction that year shows in the largely mediocre episodes. If we take series 1 and 7 aside then as atypical examples of what a season should do, that leaves this current season 10, although to be sure this is no ordinary year either. Steven Moffat is exiting, leaving the show to its hazy future. Moffat can be forgiven, I think, for leaning on what is by this point a very established and strong team of writers: Mark Gatiss, Peter Harness, Jamie Mathieson, Toby Whithouse, and Sarah Dollard. Even the other notable “guest star” — Rona Munro — makes her return to the series after a nearly thirty year break (she wrote the final story of the Classic television series, the Seventh Doctor’s “Survival”).

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I Moved On – “Thin Ice” Review

dw-thinice5Before recording our latest episode, my podcasting co-host Curtis and I chatted a bit about this new series of Doctor Who. I confessed (or rather, whined) that while I understand all of the reasons and logic I wished they would just give the show to Sarah Dollard already. Sure, she’s young and still gaining experience, but it’s hard to escape the feeling that her two stories are better than all of Chibnall’s, for all his credits.  It’s probably best to save Chibnall for some other separate blog post, after series 10 finishes, perhaps. I do have hope for his tenure, even if it’s not based entirely on the merits of his existing Doctor Who episodes. Nevertheless, our focus today is on Dollard and her sophomore outing, “Thin Ice,” and it’s enough to set one pining for what might have been (or what might still one day come to be, if we’re lucky).

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Seeing Your Own Mood – “Smile” Review

doctor-who-smile-promo-pics-1All right. Three weeks in and I’m already behind. This doesn’t bode well for timeliness, but I’m determined to complete the blog posts this season, even if they’re occasionally late and/or a bit shorter than normal. We’ve had an extended break between series 9 and 10, and coupled with the two-parter structure of series 9 which resulted in combined posts (and therefore fewer than normal for that season) I’m anxious to work a bit harder and get these right. The thesis is done, after all. No more excuses. Into Doctor Who. Let’s get to smiling.

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Doing Expressions When I’m Trying to be Enigmatic – “The Pilot” Review

billbenchSince writing reviews and blog posts was how I first immersed myself in this whole Doctor Who thing, I’m the return of my favorite show, enhanced by the introduction of a fantastic new lead actress and the impending departure of its lead actor and head writer, will help pull me out of this post-thesis funk I’ve been struggling through. Much like the Doctor in this episode, we’ll start slowly and somewhat hesitantly and work our way back up to full, reckless enthusiasm. This is sometimes necessary after a long period of recovery.

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Thesis Theater

Interested in hearing me waffle on about my recently-completed M.A. thesis on Doctor Who and fairy tales? Join me for the next installment of Signum University’s Thesis Theater where I’ll do just that. The event is free, online, and open to anyone. The live event will take place Thursday, May 18th at 7pm EDT and a recording will be posted on Youtube afterward. To see more details and register to attend live, follow this link. You can find other installments of Signum’s Thesis Theater series in this playlist, including talks on language in The Hobbit, Tolkien’s use of folklore, “Roverandom” as an example of the Irish immram genre, and more. I hope to see you there!

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