"New sun, new air, new sky. A whole universe teeming with life. Why stand still when there's all that life out there?" -The Doctor
"Asking a linguist how many languages they speak is like asking a doctor how many diseases they have." -Unknown

Sunday, September 11, 2011

River, Make 'Er Blue Again!

[EDIT: I originally drafted this in Germany, when this was the only episode I had access to. I've since caught up but I thought I'd post this anyway.]

I shouldn't have done this. I shouldn't have watched the first half of a two-parter when I may have to wait two months for the second half. But as we've heard so many times in the past: who can resist the Doctor?

Couldn't You Just Slap Him Sometimes?
Sometimes I feel a bit silly telling people I'm a Whovian, especially when there's been a long gap between me and the last time I saw a new episode. I start, in the way a good companion never should, to doubt the Doctor. Is he really worth waiting for? Is the new adventure really worth the anticipation?

The short answer is always "hell yes!"

This also applies, in part, to our beloved Mr Moffat. I assume he has a genius plan to get himself out of the hole he's dug for himself here (he usually does), but still...a fake-out regeneration is a low blow, and there'd better be a damn good justification for it.

Twelve Jammie Dodgers and a fez
Have to say: so far the plot doesn't make any sense to me at all. There are too many unconnected pieces: the zombie astronaut child, the Area 51 psychic zappy aliens, the moon landing, Elder Eleven's murder at the hands of (presumably) the same zombie astronaut child, which has been, what, lying in wait in a lake in Utah since 1969 just to kill the Doctor?

The lack of sense plus the looming cloud of Elder Eleven's death makes the whole thing pretty dark.

You Better Get Down Here, Sir; She's Doing It Again
It is a truth universally acknowledged that any episode with River Song in it must be at least a hundred times better than the same episode without her. She throws the Doctor off-kilter, makes him nervous, although he seems drawn to her as well. Actually, that's pretty obvious; a good 3/4 of their dialogue to each other seemed to be flirtation and innuendo. If the Doctor doesn't trust River (which he clearly doesn't), he doesn't seem averse to her company, to say the least.

There were two great River-related moments in this episode of the tragic flavor, both involving the Time Traveler's Wife nature of their relationship. The first is the Doctor's half-justified, half-petulant demand for information which his companions refuse to share, leading to his scoffing in River's face at the idea of trusting her. River continues to be a mystery; her past is in shadow, slowly coming to light, but never quite enough to really answer any questions. The anguish on her face when the Doctor tauntingly asks her questions he knows she won't (can't?) answer is painful to watch.

The second is River's admission to Rory of the worst day coming for her, an inevitable result of her and the Doctor's backwards relationship. The really heartbreaking thing about this is that we already know that her worst fears come true: she meets Ten in the Library who has no memory of her at all, and in a way, it does kill her. We know she's heading for that, but we don't know what kind of horror is hidden in her past for the Doctor still to discover.

Linguisticky Quibble of the Day
At 31:50 in, this happens:

Canton: So, we're in a box that's bigger on the inside, and it travels through time and space.
Rory: Yeah, basically.
Canton: How long have Scotland Yard had this?

Canton is supposed to be American, and does the accent rather well (I think, but I'm miserable at accents, so there's that). But eh, what's this? A plural verb ("have") with a collective noun? Uh oh. That's highly unusual in American English but fairly common in British English. I'm not sure how subject-verb agreement norms for collective nouns have changed since 1969, but to my modern American ears, that sounds very odd...and British-y.

Canton has no excuse for this BritEnglish slip as he is, so far as I can tell, totally American with little to no exposure to BritEnglish, especially not enough to influence a grammar feature like subject-verb agreement. Another such mistake occured in series 4, "The Sontaran Stratagem", where Luke Rattigan (also supposedly American) says to the Doctor, "I thought you were meant to be clever." In this case, both "meant to be" and "clever" sound like Britishisms; to my ears, the sentence would sound much more like standard Amerikanisch if it were instead, "I thought you were supposed to be smart." Luke, though, has a possible excuse in that he's been living in England with BritEnglish speakers; it's possible he's picked up the phrasing he uses from his environment, consciously or no (a phenomenon that many BBC-addicted American anglophiles are likely very familiar with).

Anyway, back to your regularly scheduled review...
Favorite Moments
Prison guard: You better get down here, sir. She's doing it again. Dr Song, sir. She's...packing. Says she's going to some planet called...America.

Amy: Someone's been a busy boy then, eh?
Doctor: Did you see me?
Amy: 'Course!
Doctor: Stalker!
Amy: Flirt!
Rory: Husband.

Doctor: I'm being extremely clever up here and there's no one to stand around looking impressed. What's the point in having you all?
River: Couldn't you just slap him sometimes?

Doctor: Don't play games with me. Don't ever, ever, think you're capable of that.

Doctor: Swear to me. Swear to me on something that matters.
Amy: Fish fingers and custard.
Doctor: My life in your hands, Amelia Pond.

Rory: He said the scanner wouldn't work!
River: I know! Bless.

Doctor: Oww! River, have you got my scanner working yet?
River: Oh, I hate him.
Doctor: No, you don't! River, make 'er blue again!

Doctor: That child just told you everything you need to know, but you weren't listening. Never mind, though, 'cause the answer's yes. I'll take the case. Fellas, the guns, really? I just walked into the highest security office in the United States, parked a big blue box on the rug...you think you can just shoot me?
River: They're Americans!
Doctor: Don't shoot!

Nixon: Five minutes.
Doctor: I'm going to need a SWAT team ready to mobilize, street-level maps covering all of Florida, a pot of coffee, twelve Jammie Dodgers and a fez.
Canton: Get him his maps.

Doctor: Dr Song, you've got that face on again.
River: What face?
Doctor: The "He's hot when he's clever" face.
River: This is my normal face.
Doctor: Yes it is.
River: Oh, shut up.
Doctor: Not a chance.

Amy: Why would anyone want to trap us?
Doctor: Dunno! Let's see if anyone tries to kill us and work backwards.

Doctor: Ah, back with us, Canton!
Canton: Like your wheels.
Doctor: That's m'boy!

Doctor: Shout if you get in trouble.
River: Don't worry, I'm quite the screamer. Now there's a spoiler for you!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

W13, DW 6.8, and other acronymless things

Two posts later and it's August again! My my, how the time flies.

It's been a ridiculously long time since my last post about...well, about a CG kids' movie. Since then, I've switched continents, visited some seven or so countries, gone to a linguistics conference, and acquired an apartment, a car, a job (which starts a week from today!), and at least one new TV obsession. I'm also on a diet--but man, I wouldn't want to hear about that if I were you, so I won't talk about it. Also because if I do, I'll just end up thinking how much I want chocolate chip cookies right now.


Let's talk about the TV obsession, eh? Just get it out of the way.

I added this one to my Hulu list, oh, over a year ago and never cared enough to actually watch it until my sister was like, "Hey, that show's funny, you should watch it," so I did, and I totally fell in love. Warehouse 13 is about two Secret Service agents that kind of get shanghaied into working for, well, Warehouse 13, which is this epic warehouse (like the one from Indiana Jones) chock-full of objects that do weird and generally dangerous things. This artifacts were usually either the personal possession of some famous historical figure or from some emotionally charged major event that imbued the artifact with some power. There's a plank from the Titanic that causes those near it to die of hypothermia; a can of spraypaint from East Berlin that disintegrates walls; Edgar Allen Poe's pen, which makes that which is written with it become real, and also makes the user emo; a Shakespeare folio that kills you in the same way as the famous character pictured died unless you can say their last line before the picture self-destructs; and so on. The possibilities are endless.

The great thing about this show is not just the fun of famous objects gaining some superpower from their owners or surroundings; it's also a rollicking, go-in-Teslas-blazing, buddy-cop sort of sci-fi/fantasy/adventure/detective drama/comedy that bounces gleefully between nerdy silliness (superpowered underpants on Firefly's Simon Tam) and sobering philosophical questions (is torture permissible when there are innocent lives at stake?) with a seasoning of both cutting-edge technobabble and super-stylish steampunk. It's not high-budget, it's not sexy or profane or vulgar; Warehouse 13 is just mischievous, dorky, exuberant fun. I loves it so much.

I got pretty addicted pretty fast and blazed through the whole two-and-a-half-season archive in like a week. Now I'm caught up and wishing I'd taken it slower; luckily they're still airing new episodes, although not fast enough for my liking (three a day would be good). Also, I'm now Facebook friends with Eddie McClintock, of which I am stupidly proud.

In other news: Doctor Who returned last Saturday! Unfortunately the promise of a title like "Let's Kill Hitler" was sort of wasted (given the opportunity to address one of the classic time-travel dilemmas) and the episode was devoted pretty much entirely to River Song.

Now, I got to say, I love River. She is all kinds of kickass and just the right sort of woman for the Doctor--just as conniving and mysterious as he is. But really, a show called Doctor Who should really be about the Doctor, and lately it's mostly been about River, which is interesting but not, y'know, brilliant. Season 6.1's best episode, "The Doctor's Wife," was all about the Doctor and the TARDIS and their past, with no River or melty babies or creepy eyepatches. Now, you don't necessarily have to have the Doctor at the center for an episode to work ("Blink"), but it sure as hell doesn't hurt ("The Beast Below," "The Girl in the Fireplace," "Midnight," almost all of the show). I'm just a little tired of the show obsessing about River. I'd rather find out about her in pieces and fragments, like we have so far, instead of huge and confusing chunks of her past being dumped in our laps.

That being said, it was so enjoyable to watch Psycho!River and the Doctor do their little duel of death, which River won with considerable grace and style. Again, it's such a shame to waste a perfectly good setup to play with the Hitler paradox--why go there in the first place, anyway?--but ah, well, there are bigger problems to deal with.

For instance, we're told a couple times that River's been brainwashed--trained and conditioned to kill the Doctor, and to believe that doing so is the right thing, what she's supposed to do. She's waited a good long time to do it (since 1969? I'm not sure, the timeline here is a bit confusing), and she does--getting herself stuck in a totalitarian country on the brink of war, which doesn't seem too clever to me--only to give up functional immortality to save him about 20 minutes later. What causes this dramatic and lifeshattering change of heart? As far as I can tell, watching him die (which is, remember, exactly what she was intending to see) and try to help his friends, which is not that extraordinary. And also, flying the TARDIS.

So, I'm confused. Doctor & Co. go through lots of effort and pain and death to find Melody Pond, only to find her turned into a brainwashed assassin. But that's okay, because they fix her--only to dump her on a planet in the future so she can study archaeology and meet Ten? So at what point does she kill the Doctor? Or did she already? But if she already did as a child, why would future Psycho!River need to do it again?
I think I'm just missing something.

Also, HellDave was kind of silly, but the antibodies' assurances ("You will experience a slight tingling and then death!") are wonderfully creepy-hilarious. As I said, there was too much of the stupid robot walking around torturing people and not enough playing with the space-time continuum. On the plus side, as if the Last Centurion wasn't kickass enough, Rory also got to punch out a super-advanced hellbot and Hitler! And the TARDIS with the red Corvette is my new desktop background. <3

But in any case, I'm glad to see that next week will be a good old-fashioned Monster of the Week episode, hopefully creepy as hell and awesome to boot.

That's all I can really think of to say for the moment. I'll...not make any promises at this moment in time. I think that's for the best. Byyeeee!