Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Day Three Hundred and Fifty-two - Dr.Who: Series 4, Episodes 1-4, "There's no such thing as a peaceful Christmas in Whoville."

Martha is done and The Doctor is once again alone... for a moment.

It's almost feels like, if it's a Christmas episode, then a new companion is going to be introduced. Last time it was one-off companion Donna and her sham wedding. Before that it was Rose being assaulted by robotic Santas. This time, it's SPAAAAACCCCE TITAAAANIIIICCCC... and another one-off/almost-companion in the form of a down on her luck waitress named Astrid who is serving drinks on the maiden voyage of the doomed spaceliner.

After leaving Martha (and having a webisode adventure with the Fifth Doctor (Peter Davison) that is NOT available on Netflix), The Doctor needs a bit of vacation so he hops aboard the Titanic, which is traveling above Earth at Christmastime. It took me a bit to realize that we were in modern times on an alien ship with a lot of folks who look human but aren't. Still, the Poseidon Adventure recreation that The Doctor, Astrid, and several passengers that he's interacted with is pretty fun. I also like the small role for Geoffrey Palmer (whom most folks might remember from As Time Goes By or Tomorrow Never Dies) as the ship's duplicitous captain.

I wasn't exactly thrilled with the forced "cyborg-racism" angle that crops up in several places. There's not enough time to lay a proper foundation and the two characters it directly manifests with are disappointing to say the least. I did like Astrid's solution and her almost-resurrection, but everything else, from the other passengers to the Host, was just boring.

Moving on, after Astrid buys it saving the ship, The Doctor stays in modern times to investigate the Adipose... a cute little enemy which is also being investigated by last Christmas' companion, Donna (Catherine Tate). Seems she actually got the adventure bug despite her protests last time and is looking for The Doctor, snooping out the unusual in an attempt to find him... and find him she does, just in time for both of them to stumble on an alien nanny who is using human fad diets to raise alien babies (contrary to universal law), who chooses to just kill a million humans instead of being exposed for the criminal she is. This leads to a chase sequence and MacGuffin theatrics, as per the norm, and Donna joining as a regular companion.

The Adipose are silly and cheap in terms of their CGI, and I was really expecting quite a bit more from the reporter instead of her just constantly being caught and tied up or left that way for a rehash of her "you're not just leaving me like this" joke, but Donna and the Doctor pantomiming from different sides of the villain's monologue was pretty entertaining.

From there it's off to ancient Rome, or so they think, as it's really Pompeii, only a day or so before the infamous eruption that consumed the city. There are soothsayers that can read truths and see through time who are working for a cult that The Doctor has met before (or so he says, I don't remember them from older Who epis). Anyways, the soothsayers are working at the behest of fire aliens who are living in the mountain and are using their proxies to build tech for their eventual invasion of the planet. Boring, but it gives Donna another chance to act as The Doctor's conscience, a role that I very much approve of.

The ash demons themselves were rather boring, and I was hoping for something more interesting when it came to the stone transformations of the oracles... especially since the sisterhood had a gesture that covered their eyes, which made me think of a Weeping Angel connection that would've been fun. Alas, just a third (and fourth, I guess) eye reference as they used their inner sight instead of their actual vision.

The last episode was a trip to the far-flung future and the home planet of the Ood (whom we last saw in the thrall of Satan). It seems the corporation that is exploiting them as slave labor is having trouble dealing with a strain of rabid Ood who have glowing red eyes and are violent for some unknown reason. The Doctor and Donna investigate and find out that the humans are abusing the Ood and their large hive brain, but the Ood are fighting back against their masters.

Honestly, the whole "brain in their hand" gimmick is actually pretty interesting, even if the giant CGI brain that is being held captive is boring as all get out. Sigma's subtle poisoning of the CEO, Klineman, is another nice plot point that, for once, pays off well... and in a Doctor Who episode, at that. Amazing.

With only two weeks left to go in the year, I don't know if I'll make it to the end of Series 6, but I'll give it my best go on alternating days. We'll see if I can make it without doubling up.

Until tomorrow, Potatoes~

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