Category Archives: Television

Alex P. Keaton

familyties1I sometimes feel like I’m surrounded by Alex P. Keaton.

Conservatives are everywhere. The generation that grew up before me were fighting against the hippies before them. So they went right wing. We had Reagan in the States, Mulroney up here, Thatcher in the United Kingdom. Ugh.

I recently listened to a student talk about social justice, but the framework she used for her discussion was economics. It kind of disgusted me that the discussion wasn’t how to help people, but how to make things better for business to help the economy, to in turn help the people.

The logic of trickle-down economics have been discussed over and over again, and danger of wealth inequality has been drummed loud and clear. I could cite sources, but I’m lazy. I remember something perhaps from the IMF, a few universities. I dunno. You do the research. Comment down below.

But this bothers me. It means people are putting corporations ahead of people.

That’s not cool.

Currently I give financially to non-profits and I don’t generally talk about it, I think I now need to talk about it. I think I also need to be more active and actually do stuff. Rather than just help with my wallet, help physically.

Some organizations I donate to that you could donate to, too.

Toronto Public Library Foundation The Leo Baeck Day School Canadian Cancer Society Heart and Stroke Foundation

Doctor Who Serial 054 – Inferno

Synopsis: The Doctor is consulting on a massive drilling project allowing him to syphon off energy to use on his TARDIS console. People start dying.

vlcsnap-2014-04-06-08h47m45s83So apparently The Doctor is keeping the TARDIS console in a garage, and using a sonic screwdriver as a garage door opener. Meanwhile, once again we have a science project happening where the lead is an arrogant asshole who won’t listen to reason or take responsible safety precautions. While Sir Keith, the funder is trying to bring in consultants to ensure safety and responsibility. Showing its British class-structure.

The Doctor flies the TARDIS console into a parallel universe, where an evil Brigade Leader Lethbridge-Stewart is leading a scientific team for the Republican Security Force. It must be evil if Queen Lizzy is deposed.

The Doctor is captured by Lethbridge-Stewart, and ends up fighting for his freedom, while also observing the parallel universe’s drilling having the same problems that he will have on Earth Prime.

vlcsnap-2014-04-06-15h23m49s181This is the first seven-parter that doesn’t feel like it drags… too much. It seems to work. This was the end of season 7. Instead of the usual 40-odd episodes, the seasons now have only 20-odd episodes. It’s a lot less Doctor Who, but it’s a lot more manageable. Troughton and Hartnell never had it so easy.

This theme of scientists who are too caught up on their own grandeur to see what they’re doing is played out. For some odd reason this, and a distaste of computers are a recurring theme in Doctor Who and sci-fi in general. It’s riduculous beyond belief.

Jon Pertwee attempts to become an action star in his role as The Doctor. He does a lot of martial arts, car chases, and just a lot of jumping around. It’s an interesting take on The Doctor, something that 50 years later is still unique to Pertwee.

Doctor Who Serial 053 – The Ambassadors of Death

Synopsis: A space mission is sent to rescue a ship that hasn’t been responding. Something goes wrong and Earth loses contact with the space probe. Aliens send down some ambassadors while some secret agencies are working in secret.

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UNIT is advising the Space Command, while The Doctor and Liz Shaw are watching on TV. It’s weird to see The Doctor observing a big event on television. It’s not his thing. It makes me think The Doctor must be in misery due to his exile, but they don’t portray that.

Instead The Doctor is just tinkering away in his TARDIS trying to override the lockouts that the Time Lords put on his TARDIS. He wants to escape, but can’t.

Once again, the story drags because it is broken up into seven parts. There’s a lot of mystery, but it often doesn’t leave a lot of intrigue. It’s just mystery without interest. The story itself is interesting, and intriguing. We eventually learn of an old astronaut (now a General in the military) who takes over Space Command. When he was on Mars, he met these creatures, and is afraid they plan to invade Earth, he wants to make a stand before they do. Unfortunately UNIT and The Doctor are getting in the way.

vlcsnap-2014-04-05-21h00m28s173How The Doctor is getting in the way is by trying to make peaceful contact with the alien creatures, and figure out the mystery of the missing astronauts. He even volunteers to go up in another rocket and try to make contact with the missing crew (and the aliens).

The Doctor is right of course, and the title is completely inaccurate, all the death is being caused by the rogue General.

One of the interesting things that we see in this story is that the production team tried something different for the first time. They broke up the opening titles, so we had the beginning, a bit of a teaser (about a minute) and then they put up the story name, episode number, and writer’s credit. But they just broke up the theme, rather than redesigning the sound for it. It felt awkward and didn’t work.

We also learn in the story that there’s a radio telescope in Algonquin… and there really is.

This was a really enjoyable episode, that just dragged a bit too long.

Doctor Who Serial 052 – Doctor Who and the Silurians

Synopsis: UNIT is called to a nuclear power station which is losing power. They find Silurians are waking up, a biped lizard people from Earth’s past.

This is a very interesting episode, mostly because The Doctor is convinced the Silurian people and the Humans can coexist on Earth together. UNIT however is reacting militarily, and some scientists from the power station just don’t believe they exist.

The problem is that the story is seven episodes long. It takes forever for anything interesting to happen, and by forever, I mean three episodes. The first three episodes plod along without creating any interest for the viewer. This is why it has been two weeks since the last Doctor Who entry on this site. I haven’t had any interest in watching this story.

Once you finally get into the story, things move along quickly and excitingly. The story raises some interesting questions, and turns the idea of aliens=monsters on its head.

The format is almost identical to the Matt Smith episodes “The Hungary Earth”/”Cold Blood” but writer Chris Chibnall was better able to condense the story into two episodes.

Doctor Who Serial 051 – Spearhead From Space

Synopsis: The Doctor, having just regenerated, finds himself on exiled on Earth helping UNIT. Strange objects have fallen from the sky, as a forerunner for the Nestines to conquer Earth.

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Hello Jon Pertwee.

Though most of episode one has The Doctor unconscious, we quickly get a good idea of who The Doctor is now. He’s tricky, he’s clever, and he loves a bit of action.

We get reintroduced to UNIT who are investigating falling meteorite, they also find the unconscious Doctor along with the TARDIS. This gets Brigadier General Lethbridge-Stewart excited, thinking The Doctor has returned. He finds out about this while interviewing a young woman named Liz Shaw, so he brings her with.

Sadly, the man in the hospital bed does not look like The Doctor, but he recognizes Lethbridge-Stewart.

We learn The Doctor has two hearts for the first time.

The Doctor gets kidnapped by some strangers, but quickly breaks free, and tries to get to the TARDIS, only to be shot by the UNIT guards.

They take The Doctor back to the hospital where the physician says, “He’s more unconscious than anyone I’ve ever seen!” Which is the most amazing line of dialogue, ever.

In an excellent scene, The Doctor hides from the hospitals doctors in the staff room then steals clothing from them. This scene will be riffed upon in “The Eleventh Hour.”

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The production quality is vastly different than the previous seasons. They reduced the number of episodes from forty-something to a more manageable twenty-something. This serial, is a bit unique in that it was completely filmed on location on film. Usually Doctor Who has a few scenes filmed on location on 16mm, and the rest is video taped in studio. This makes for a very drastic change in Doctor Who.

The mystery of the fallen spheres takes a back seat to reintroducing The Doctor, Lethbridge-Stewart, and introducing Liz Shaw.

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Creepy dude is creepy.

Episode four seems to finally get into the plot, where the plastics company is making models for Madame Tussaud’s, oddly though of top civil servants, not of famous people.

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Perhaps what make Jon Pertwee so great of a Doctor is the elasticity of his face. He’s able to bring a great level of comedy to Doctor Who.

The comparisons to “Rose” are really easy. Both Spearhead From Space and “Rose” are the start of a new era of Doctor Who. Both feature the same baddies and have shop window dummies go on a killing spree. In both stories we have to learn to love a new Doctor. I think in some ways “Rose” is better, and in other Spearhead From Space is better.

I don’t know if there’s a lot of comparison between Christopher Eccelston’s version of The Doctor and Jon Pertwee’s. Eccelston plays a damaged man who is looking for a bit of fun. Pertwee is trying to remember who he is, and hoping to run away.

In the end, these are two great Doctor Who stories.

Doctor Who Serial 050 – The War Games

Synopsis: The Doctor, Jamie, and Zoe arrive in a world divided into wars with Roman, Greek, Crimean War, First World War, Peninsular War, American Civil War, Mexican Civil War, English Civil War, Thirty-Years War, Boer War, and Russo-Japanese War all represented. The Doctor has to figure out how all these time periods can exist together.

The War Games is the final Doctor Who serial starring Patrick Troughton, Wendy Padbury, and Frazer Hines. It is the final story of the sixth season. It is the final story in black and white. It is the final story of the 1960s.

It is ten parts.

As soon as the TARDIS lands, they walk up a hill and find themselves in the middle of a barrage in World War I.  They quickly get captured by Germans. Just as quickly they get rescued by some British soldiers who take over the hijacked ambulance on foot.

Jamie, who is from Earth’s past asks what they are fighting for in this war. The Doctor replies, “I think it was the war to end all wars.” I think the real answer is “absolutely nothing. Death and destruction with no reason or rhyme.”

The Doctor and his companions are sent to General Smythe who has to be the creepiest dude, ever. He starts talking into his mirror and reporting from the “1917 zone” requesting another 5000 specimens.

The Doctor is tried for espionage and sentenced to death. In the most cliché cliffhanger, in an era of cliché cliffhangers, we see The Doctor about to be executed when suddenly the Germans ambush the British.

Then a TARDIS appears in General Smythe’s office. What can be happening?!?!?!

Meanwhile, Jamie is imprisoned for abandoning the Highlander regiment, where he encounters a red coat who thinks it’s 1745. Something wonky is going on.

They all escape and find themselves under fire from General Smythe’s troops. The enter some fog at the border of the map and find themselves facing a troop of Roman soldiers charging at them as they panic to get the ambulance started again. End of episode two.

They then reverse back into World War I… really? That’s the resolution? And now The Doctor is providing everyone with exposition.

“Perhaps I can pick this lock.” The Doctor should be using his sonic screwdriver.

They get captured again, this time by the Germans. Whomp whomp.

The Doctor just used the sonic screwdriver as a… wait for it… screwdriver.

The Germans have an equivalent to Smythe, he’s as melodramatic, except he wears a monocle… he’s a hipster!

We quickly meet the War Chief and see the operations outside of the war zones. The War Chief is intrigued by these renegades who claim to be time travellers. They send the troops after them, while The Doctor and crew cross another border into the American Civil War.

That definitely sounds like a TARDIS replenishing the troops. “So many of them, that thing must be bigger on the inside just like the TARDIS.” Oh shit it just disappeared with The Doctor and Zoe inside, leaving Jamie and Lady Jennifer in the 1860s.

I love how uncomfortable The Doctor is at the thought of meeting his own people. It’s been six years, and we’ve had nary a word about them1.

OH MY GOD I WANT THOSE SPECS!

Oh snap! There’s a resistance! They know what’s going on, and they’re going to stop it! Not only that, he’s a tough talking straight shooter! Oh yeah!

Oh, so much exposition! How to give exposition? Put your heroes into an evil-university setting.

Yes! The War Chief and The Doctor recognize each other!

They mentioned the Time Lords for the first time ever in Doctor Who. The Time Lords being The Doctor’s species.

This story is quite long at ten parts, and it is a lot of being captured and escaping. Over and over and over again.

They hide in one of the TARDISes so the War Lord makes the inside smaller than the outside, crushing The Doctor… perhaps the best of the cliffhangers.

I don’t think that it works to have a superior baddy who is not seen but heard of here. The War Lord would make a decent baddy, but The War Chief is this supposed threat, that I don’t feel.

Is that Steve Jobs?

Zoe and Jamie lead the rebellion, to great success.

The Doctor and the rebels are able to retake the base! WOO! Except he can’t get all the innocent humans home.

The Doctor does the one thing he’s most reluctant to do, he calls the Time Lords for help.

The ninth episode ends with The Doctor, Jamie, and Zoe making a break for the TARDIS in the hopes of leaving before the Time Lords arrive.

As the tenth episode opens, they obvious succeed… wait no, that’s not right. They fail.

We finally get our first view of Gallifrey2 as The Doctor faces his trial.

The Time Lords return Jamie and Zoe to their own times, it’s a sad farewell to two of the best companions.

The Time Lords decide to exile The Doctor on Earth in the 20th century.

“Your appearance has changed before, it can change again.”

Part of their punishment is to regenerate The Doctor once again. We don’t get to see The Doctor finish his regeneration as the credits role.

Goodbye Patrick Troughton, Frazer Hines, and Wendy Padbury.

  1. With the exception of his granddaughter, and the meddling Monk. []
  2. Though not named. []

Doctor Who Serial 048 – The Seeds of Death

Synopsis: The Ice Warriors take over a moon base.

Oh god, not the Icccccccccccce Warriorsssssssssss.

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At T-Mat control on Earth, things are hectic and behind schedule, a man comes in to transport to the Moon. The T-Mat is essentially just “beam-me-up” technology. The only difference is that Doctor Who can’t afford visual effects.

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Toronto is mentioned in the T-Mat Control Centre chatter. And according to TARDIS Data Core, it is the only canonical mention of Toronto in Doctor Who. We need to do something about this… Doctor Who was created by a Torontonian, after all!

T-Mat access to the Moon has been disabled. T-Mat control must look to ancient rocket technology to get to the crew on the Moon. While the Lunar crew race to get the T-Mat operational under threat of the Ice Warriors.

The Doctor and companions are decided to help get the rocket operational and crew the vessel.

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Turns out the Ice Warriors are trying to use the T-Mats to send packages to major cities on Earth.

It seems their grand plan is to send bubble bath through the T-Mat vestibules, and cover the earth with BUBBLES!

To defeat the bubbles, The Doctor learns that he needs water. What is with this 1960s trope in sci-fi where water is the answer. Sigh.

The Ice Warriors sound like fat men who have just jogged 10 metres.

Serial 049 is missing. It’s called “The Space Pirates” and I choose to believe it’s about this kind of pirate.

Doctor Who Serial 047 – The Krotons

Synopsis: A species choose their two finest students and gives them to the Krotons. The Doctor and company discover in the wastelands that these chosen people are being sacrificed. No one has seen the Krotons for millennia.

Oh. My. God. This story opens with one of the most classic Doctor Who moments, ever. A portal opens and a man’s arm reaches into it, but the portal doesn’t open properly or on time. It’s the definition of wobbly sets.

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The TARDIS appears in a quarry. This episode is living up to cliché.

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My word, what is Zoe wearing?

So the Krotons are killing their people, so their solution is to destroy the learning machines that the Krotons use to brainwash the people. Seems pretty reasonable. So the Krotons send out a penis-like arm with a camera on the end of it, this intimidates The Doctor, and we have the credits to episode 1.

When Zoe and Jamie are the companions there’s a lovely relationship there, and a protective one; not in the traditional man protect woman sense, but the two of them conspire to look after The Doctor, as if he’s a child who needs their help. In many ways The Doctor does need Jamie and Zoe, and they’re there to make sure he gets the friendship and help he requires, whether or not he desires it.

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Zoe decides to use the educational machines, so obviously the Krotons choose her for sacrifice. The Doctor must take the test, too, so he can join Zoe and keep her safe. The Doctor trying to keep up with Zoe’s intelligence is quite a humorous scene, and perfectly illustrates why The Doctor, Jamie, and Zoe is the best era of Doctor Who.

The Doctor and Zoe successfully escape, but Jamie in his error breaks into the Kroton lair. Jamie is in jeopardy as the credits role on episode two.

In true Doctor Who fashion, the Krotons are the most ridiculous monsters.

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Someone is buried under rock, The Doctor asks Zoe to help him remove it. With her extreme intelligence, her willingness to speak her mind, and physical strength, she’s probably the first feminist character in Doctor Who, perhaps one of the only ones.

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Zoe pours acid into the Kroton’s liquid storage killing them dead, the trio then sneak off to the TARDIS as the natives music find a way to live without Kroton rule.

Doctor Who Serial 046 – The Invasion

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Synopsis: The Doctor and company land on Earth, it has been some time since they met Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart, he is now promoted to the rank of Brigadier General, and in command of the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce, also known as UNIT. An electronics manufacturer is appears to be responsible for some missing people, The Doctor and his companions go looking for answers, and it turns out UNIT is investigating the same thing.

The CEO of the electronics company is a creepy and slimey man who is talking to some unknown forced on the other side of the moon. He is plotting to take over the world, so are the alien force, but the CEO feels he can keep them at bay after he’s used the alien forces for is own good.

At the end of the fourth episode we learn who the aliens are…

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Yup, it’s the Cybermen. Dum, dum, dum!

The Doctor, Jamie, and Zoe are of course worried. They’ve encountered the Cybermen and know the true danger they possess. They meet a young photographer who quickly bonds with Zoe. Zoe and Isobel decide to go after the Cybermen with Isobel’s camera to prove the existence of these creatures, and gain evidence to get full support from UNIT in Geneva. Of course the girls get into trouble. They are girls, after all.

They briefly use Zoe’s vast intelligence in the episode, but to undo any notion of feminism in the show, a UNIT officer asks, “Can we keep her? She’s much prettier than a computer.” The G4 Cube hadn’t been invented yet.

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My biggest complaint would be that The Doctor and Jamie don’t know what a canoe is… this is not a canoe.

Overall, it’s a really fun story, it drags at points, as any 8-part story would, but it’s damn enjoyable. Also, The Doctor dodges Cyberman weapon fire in a most comedic fashion.

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Doctor Who Serial 045 – The Mind Robber

Another day, another Doctor Who serial.

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Synopsis: In a quick getaway from the erupting volcano from the previous serial, the TARDIS finds itself outside normal space-time. The Doctor and crew are being pitted against fictitious characters, as the author of their doom tries to ensnare The Doctor to award himself freedom.

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The episode starts off with the TARDIS flying apart as Jamie and Zoe cling to the console for dear life. The episode also begins with Zoe’s bum.

They face Medusa, a unicorn, a minotaur, and even Karkus, a comic book character from the distant future, the year 2000. Zoe kicks his ass.

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One of the stranger aspects of this episode was, that to give Frazer Hines some time off, they made The Doctor solve a puzzle to help Jamie, but he mismatches Jamie’s face, and thus Hamish Wilson plays Jamie for two episodes of the five.

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This is actually a fun little story, but nothing spectacular. The Doctor almost takes a back seat to his companions, and that an interesting dynamic with Jamie and Zoe.