Friday, July 6, 2007

Doctor Who—Smith and Jones

As we begin Season Three, we're introduced to Martha (Freema Agyeman), a normal young woman who makes lots of phone calls. I hope she has a good plan with lots of minutes. Or do cell phone plans work that way in England? I have no idea. Then she runs into the Doctor who mysteriously shows her his tie. And then she runs into a guy without a face, which on this show is never good.

Our new friend Martha is apparently a med student. Or an intern. Something like that. I'm not even sure how all that works in the US, much less in the UK. Anyway, so the Doctor is the Doctor, and Martha is almost a Doctor. Heh. Lots of guys without faces are runing around the hospital. Oh, and the doctor is in the hospital, too, complaining of abdominal pains. Martha's a pretty sharp student--she notices our dear Doctor has two hearts. Also there's a lot of static electricity in this hospital. I hope it doesn't short out any monitoring devices or accidentally defib somebody. And there's a thunderstorm right on top of the hospital and nowhere else. Oh, and the rain is going up instead of down. Dude, that's weird. And then there's an earthquake. The entire hospital is transported to the moon. This could be a problem. I'm not sure my insurance would cover that, though, again, not sure how these things work in the UK.

Everybody in the hospital starts to scream and wail. The Doctor clues in that Martha is fairly sharp, and recruits her for help. Martha lost a cousin in the Cybermen fiasco of last season. I like that they maintain that kind of continuity in this show, rather than having all the humans unaware of what's going on in the Doctor's world. The hospital is, inside a force field that's holding the air in. Of course, this means they have a limited supply. The hospital has been abducted by the guys in the shiny suits and motorcycle helmets, and one of the old lady patients is after the blood of one of the hospital administrators. She even has a straw. Eww.

The aliens enter the hospital. They're like big rhinos in black leather. Kind of disturbing, frankly. They run around "cataloging" everybody by drawing black X's on their hands. I guess that's so they can get back into the hospital later if they leave. They also kill one of the patients when he attacks one of them. So not cool.

The Doctor tries to work out what's going on, whilst making his own hair messier and messier. Seriously, it's like its own character this episode. Martha walks in on Old Lady Ms. Finnegan having her sip o' blood. Pursuit ensues. They kill one of the aliens with an X-ray machine. The Doctor dances around like a dork to get the radiation out of his body. The Doctor's sonic screwdriver gets screwed up. He's sad. Martha tells him about Ms. Finnegan snacking on the hospital administrator. The rhino people--Jidoon--are looking for someone who looks human but isn't. The Doctor figures it's Ms. Finnegan, who's a plasmavore, assimilating blood so she can pass as human. They catalog the Doctor as non human.

As the Jidoon descend again, the Doctor smooches Martha, then pursues Ms Finnegan. His kiss residue makes her register as not-quite human, which distracts the Jidoon while they scan her. The Doctor uses the word Ginormous. Heh. Ms. Finnegan is rigging the MRI machine to kill off everybody on the moon and the moonside of the Earth. They never do that on House. The Doctor scams Ms. Finnegan into assimilating his blood. She uses a bendy straw. This is hysterical. The Doctor drops dead. Supposedly.

Of course now Ms. Finnegan scans as non-human. Ms. Finnegan is totally busted. She starts the MRI explosion, but the Jidoon shoot her with their big rhino ray guns. The Jidoon decide to evacuate without bothering to fix the MRI or take care of the hospital's lack of air. Martha administers CPR on the Doctor, and remembers to do compressions on both his hearts. He revives. The Doctor manages to shut down the MRI, even without his sonic screwdriver. As the Jidoon depart, they reverse the transportation of the hospital, and it's returned to Earth. The Doctor departs.

Martha's family party goes awry, largely due to her dad's slutty girlfriend. The Doctor reappears and makes come-hither eyes at Martha. She meets up with him and takes him up on his offer to travel with him.

This was a very strong and completely fun introduction to the third season. The outside-looiking-in perspective served very well for the introduction of a new companion, and Martha is a great addition to the cast. I'm definitely looking forward to the rest of this season.

Dr Who—The Runaway Bride

When last we left the good Doctor, he had just been forced to abandon his latest companion, Rose, on a planet in another dimension where he would never see her again. Everybody cried. Yeah, I did, too, a little.

Now we renter the Whovian world with a wedding. No, not the Doctor's, that would be wrong. It's Donna Noble's (Catherine Tate). And she turns all gold and glowy and disappears through the roof. And reappears on the TARDIS. I think I would have liked it if that had happened at my wedding.

Donna, the abducted bride, is pretty irate about her current fate. The Doctor, still broody about Rose, tries to explain, but she's not buying it. Then she opens the doors of the TARDIS. This seems like a really bad idea, although apparently you don't get sucked out the TARDIS doors like you would if you say, opened up a docking bay door on the Battlestar Galactica.

Back at the wedding, Donna's mother thinks she's pulling some kind of stunt. In the meantime, the Doctor and Donna run all over London trying to get Donna back to her wedding. Donna is abducted by creepy Santas who turn out to be bug-type aliens. What follows is one of the best Dr. Who action sequences EVER, as the TARDIS spins and flies through traffic to catch up with Donna's car and drag her out of it. Dude, Tom Baker never did anything quite this cool. Of course, the special effects budget wasn't quite as good back then, either.

By the time all that's done, Donna has missed her wedding, so she's bummed.The Doctor interrogates her, trying to figure out why the aliens abducted her in the first place. They finally make it to the reception, where her fiance Lance is happily dancing with another woman.

The Doctor appropriates a guest's cell phone to look into her place of employment, which is apparently connected to Torchwood. (Premiering in September on BBC America--don't miss it!) He also gets a look at video of Donna's abduction from the wedding. He thinks it has to do with Huon particles, but Huon energy doesn't exist anymore. Except wait!! It does! And somehow it's connected to Donna's abduction, as the crazy Santa-bug-aliens arrive again. They make all the pretty shiny Christmas decorations float off the trees and ASPLODE. All backed by a jazzy rendition of Jingle Bells. The Doctor incapacitates the robots with a combination of his sonic screwdriver and the sound system. He goes to trace the robots' controllers. Donna follows.

The robots are being controlled by something that looks like a giant female spider in a ship above the Earth. Donna has been dosed with Huon energy. The only Huon energy left around is a small amount in the TARDIS, which is why she was pulled into it.

The Doctor also finds a secret floor in the H.C. Clements building where Donna works. They go down to the Lower Basement and ride around on Segways until they find a secret Torchwood base where Huon particles are being manufactured. Donna is a sort of catalyst to activate the particles. The giant spider woman teleports into the basement. She's the Empress--and the last--of the Racnoss, a race from billions of years ago. And Lance is in cahoots with her, and fed Donna the Huon particles in her coffee to prepare her . There's also a really, really deep hole in the ground. The Doctor uses the Huon particles to bring the TARDIS to them and escape to go find out what's at the bottom of the hole, which goes all the way down to the Earth's core. They go back to the creation of the Earth, 4.6 billion years ago, and discover the earth was actually formed around a Racnoss ship.

The Empress uses Lance to pull the TARDIS back by flooding him with Huon particles. She abducts Donna and uses the Huon particles in Donna and in Lance to open the Racnoss ship at the center of the earth. It's full of Racnoss babies that plan to crawl up out of the center of earth take over the place. Seems like all the aliens on this show want to take over the planet. Aren't other planets they could take over?

Anyway, the Empress' ship comes down and shoots up London. The Doctor offers to find the Racnoss a place where they can live in peace, but she declines. He uses some of the asplodey Christmas tree balls to flood the Lower Basement, as well as the big giant hole that goes to the center of the earth. That's a lot of water. Good thing the Thames is a big river. The Empress escapes, but her ship is blown apart by tanks.

Making his farewells to Donna, the Doctor makes it snow. He invites Donna to join him, but she declines. The Doctor is off again, on his own.

But not for long, as we'll find out in the next episode.

This "supersized" Dr. Who originally aired as a one-shot special last Christmas season in the UK, and it was a bit odd watching it in the middle of summer here. But no matter--I enjoyed it quite a lot. Donna made a great foil for the Doctor, and I was glad to hear (SPOILERS) that she'll be joining him as a permanent companion in the fourth season. The pace of this episode was frenetic, as was a good deal of the music, but it fit the story well. All in all, a fun show.

Californication Preview

Netflix is offering a sneak preview disc of the first episode of Californication to its subscribers. It'll be available starting July 24--get it into your queue early!

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Dr. Who Is Coming!

The third season of the retooled Dr. Who starts on the Sci Fi channel this Friday with the Christmas Special, The Runaway Bride, followed by Smith and Jones. And yes, I will be blogging it.

Next Tuesday, look for Eureka's second season premiere, also on Sci Fi. I'm looking forward to this one, too.