Saturday, 29 September 2012

Amy and Rory's Best Moments

And here it is. The Pond's final day. Tonight at 7.20pm on BBC One (for UK viewers) the mid-season finale 'The Angels Take Mahattan' is broadcast and will be Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill's last appearance in Doctor Who. Feeling sad? Want something to cheer you up? Well, you've come to the wrong blog as the following post may set of the waterworks as we look back at the Pond's greatest moments: as there won't be any more after this evening.

Top Amy Moments!

She's a kissogram! - The Eleventh Hour

The Doctor meets curious young Amelia Pond immediately after regenerating. Due to a fault of the destroyed TARDIS, the next time he meets her it seems Amelia - now Amy - Pond is all grown up and has become a policewoman... or a nurse... or was it a nun? No, the Doctor's little Amelia is actually a kissogram. The Doctor was shocked and so were we: right from the off, Amy was definitely a very different companion.

Amy chooses Rory - Amy's Choice

A major theme of Amy and Rory's first series is Amy's conflict about who to choose; the Doctor or Rory? However, once the dastardly Dream Lord traps the travelling trio in a dream world in which Rory dies Amy realises that she can't live without her fiancee (everyone now: 'Awwww'). It's a very important moment in the unfolding relationship of the Ponds from Amy describing Rory as her 'sort of boyfriend' early on to being happy to marry him later in the series.

The Raggedy Man is Late for their Wedding - The Big Bang

Talking of which, when Mr and Mrs Pond (cos it really does work like that with them) finally tie the knot in a world where the Doctor has never existed due to the time crack in her wall and the universe pouring into her head, Amy is able to remember the Doctor which brings him back into the world! Hooray! And just in time for a dance!

Top Rory Moments!

Rory punches Hitler - Let's Kill Hitler
Yes, I think we could all watch this for hours. Rory demonstrates his physical side as he smacks the Fuhrer right round the face. Well, he had just shot he's daughter. And, you know, he's Hitler.

The Lone Centurion -  The Big Bang 

We knew right away that Rory was loyal to Amy - but until he decided to guard her while she was trapped inside the Pandorica we didn't know how much. While the universe is all topsy-turvy and all over the place and he's a plastic Roman (I won't explain it now but, to be honest, it makes little more sense in the episode - in a nice way), Rory waits 2000 years until Amy can leave the Pandorica. Now that's what I call commitment.

Where. Is. His.Wife? - A Good Man Goes to War

When the Doctor and Rory discover that Amy has been kidnapped they do everything they can to find her - including blowing up some cybermen! Once again in the persona of the Lone Centurion, Rory gives the Cybermen a 'message' from the Doctor (the above explosion) and a question from himself (the above title). We know from other times that Rory is fiercely loyal to his wife but in this moment we see he is also super cool! Go Rory. 

Top Pond moments
                                                         Stupid Face - Day of the Moon

Amy is once again kidnapped (it doesn't happen that often really) this time by the Silence, as the Doctor, River and Rory search for her Rory clutches the device that's allowing him to hear Amy - but she can't hear him. As he bravely says he'll keep looking for her, Amy speaks of how a man fell out of the sky and changed her world. Of course it turns out that Amy was indeed speaking of her husband ('it's a figure of speech, moron!'). Another great 'aww' moment from the Ponds. 

Old Amy - The Girl Who Waited

The pivotal scene of this wonderful episode is a proper emotional moment as Rory has to leave an older, harsher version of his wife out of the TARDIS to be killed by white robots so the younger, our Amy can live. Both actors play blinding performances and show that they can play the lighter and more serious sides of their characters.

They Don't Divorce! - Asylum of the Daleks

Hi-hip hooray. I can't have been the only Amy and Rory fan to have been dreading 'Asylum' a bit once I heard that the Ponds were going to divorce. For the first half of the episode or so, that is exactly what is happening. After all these moments that we've looked at where the Ponds show what a great team they are and what they can survive through, they seem to now hate the sight of each other. However, in another emotionally-charged scene from Gillan and Darvill the Ponds pour out their problems and anxieties; mainly the fact that Amy can't have kids and how she felt she had to force herself to let Rory go because of this. Who says you can't have heart-to-hearts in the middle of a mad Daleks asylum.  

So there are my personal favourite Pond moments. However, I'm sure by the end of tonight I could fill another list of touching Amy and Rory scenes from that episode alone.

As said episode is only a few hours away, there's just time to say thank you to Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill who have brought the characters alive so well over the past two and a half years of the show. I'm sure both will go onto other successes. One thing's for sure, though, their time on Doctor Who will be fondly remembered. To Amy and Rory!

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Review: Doctor Who - S7 Ep 2-4

In preparation for the mid-season finale this Saturday, Steven Moffat's sure-to-be grand 'The Angels Take Manhattan', I've reviewed the three previous episodes in this terrific mini-series of Doctor Who. If I have one major complaint, it's that there are not enough; just five featuring the Ponds and the annual Christmas special in which Jenna-Louise Coleman making her first appearance as the Doctor's companion proper. However, this all should mean we can look forward to a bumper crop of episodes next year, the show's fiftieth anniversary. But enough of the future, let's look to the adventures we've just seen...

                                     Dinosaurs On A Spaceship

After 'Asylum...’s dark opener, ‘Dinosaurs on a Spaceship’ decides to focus on fun and frivolity – and makes completely the right choice as it certainly is fun. With the title such as it is, how could it not be? You can easily imagine many internally – or perhaps externally, also – squealing upon seeing those words in the opening credits, feeling eight years old again. 

As DOAS is such an ensemble piece its success relies largely on its cast to bring the premise of the Doctor having a gang to life. Thankfully, they’re all rather brilliant. Rupert Graves (Riddell) and Rian Steele (‘Neffy’) give entertaining turns as their respective characters while playing the viscous bounty hunter/space pirate/ murderer Solomon comes easily to David Bradley. However, it’s Mark Williams who shines the most of the guest cast as Rory’s hapless dad, Brian. As in all his roles, Mr Williams makes, er, Mr Williams endearing and you feel you’re not laughing at him but with him.  
On the other hand, while the cast gave it their all, this reviewer felt the script wasn’t quite as refined as usual Who. Personally, not all of the gags worked (perhaps one to many innuendos?) and, although this can be forgiven as there was so much to fit in, the characterisation of Riddell and Neffy was sketchy.  That said, there were some fine moments such as the foreshadowing of Amy and Rory’s exit from the Doctor’s life in that ‘you’ll be there till the end of me’ conversation and that wonderful final scene of Brian eating his lunch while looking at the Earth below; exactly the stuff that’s Doctor Who’s made of.

                                    A Town Called Mercy
While the previous two episodes were dark and twisty-turny or fun and joke-filled, Mercy takes another entirely different direction; it’s a full-blooded western full of death, inner demons and morality. Once again showing the dexterity of Doctor Who. It’s safe to say that no other show on television could tell three such diverse stories in three weeks.
Speaking of westerns, writer Toby Whithouse proves he really knows the genre as he packs in several references to classic western films; from the obvious to the sly (I’m sure the undertaker sequences are inspired by a similar joke in comedy film Carry on Cowboy). If westerns aren’t for you, though, there is much else to enjoy here.  It britstles with wonderful drama that never lets up throughout the forty-five minutes including the parallels between Jex and the Doctor and the Frankenstein-like origins of the Gunslinger. Whithouse also injects a lot of hilarious moments too, especially in the episode’s first half; special mention goes to the ‘she’s called Susan’ gag which should go down as one of Doctor Who’s funniest ever lines.
While the episode is hugely enjoyable it has its faults. My biggest bone to pick with ATCM is how it sadly underuses Amy and Rory; although there’s a great scene where Jex sees Amy as a mother and she is instrumental in brining the Doctor back from over the brink she gets little else to do and Arthur Darvill (as Rory) surely only gets three lines in the entire thing. Seeing as our time with these characters is very limited it would have been nice to see some more of them.
However, as it stands A Town Called Mercy is a sophisticated drama that leaves you lots to think about with some spot-on comedy moments. Also, in contrast to the previous two stories, it’s not afraid to let the action simmer a bit more to tell a perhaps deeper story. While others might not benefit from a slower pace, it certainly works here.
                                         The Power of Three

As the Pond Farwell is just next week, their penultimate adventure needed to be something special, a last hurrah for them before the last day arrives. ‘The Power of Three’ was, of course, something special; a gentle, touching but also very funny episode that is rightly all about our terrific trio of time travellers.
The true strength of this episode is how Chibnall turns up the nostalgia and emotion all the way. The best examples here are of that tremendous scene of the Doctor and Amy talking by the waterside, answering the question perhaps some of us have been wondering this year: ‘why does the Doctor keep coming back for the Ponds?’ Another moment comes courtesy of Brian (oh, why wasn’t Mark Williams’ introduced earlier!) who gives his blessing for his son and daughter-in-law to go off into the universe. On the nostalgic side of things, as a fan, there’s a lot to sink your teeth into. The inclusion of UNIT in any form would have been exciting enough but for it to be led by the legendary Brigadier’s daughter, Kate, adds another level of geek mouth-watering to proceedings. I’m sure many are wishing for a return.
However, while the human side of things is very well done indeed there are problems with the plot. The fab idea of the cubes, that acts as a nice commentary on humanity’s tendency to scavenge,  is used well in the opening half a but when everything suddenly kicks off in the closing minutes it takes no time at all for it to then be sorted out.  The Shakri look great if a little like a Sarah Jane Adventures alien but are/is underused. And what are those gasmask-esque hospital porters about?
Crucially though, despite the nit-picks, this episode flourishes as it shines a new light on the Pond’s relationship with the Doctor and his with them. It’s only fitting that this happened this week right before ‘The Angels Take Manhattan’, when the TARDIS lands in New York, and that light will be extinguished forever.  

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Doctor Who: Asylum of the Daleks - Review

Hello there! Yes, I know I'm a bit behind the times, what with Doctor Who's seventh series opener being broadcast three weeks ago, but due to time constraints a review of the episode had to wait til now - and by time constraints I mean I've spent most of my time since Asylum jumping like a five-year old and shouting 'Who's back!' I really need to learn to prioritise my tasks.

                  Geronimo! Just like previous Moffat openers, Series Seven started with a bang!

'Every. Dalek. Ever!'

That was what the viewing public was promised to get from this episode. And, thanks to prequel mini-series Pond Life and a teaser tweet from Steven Moffat, we were also told to expect the break-up of Dear Pond One and Two's marriage. These were the two hooks for the episode. And, boy, were they good hooks. Enough to get any Who fan salivating at the thought of seeing the Special Weapons Dalek again (what may seem inconsequential to a casual viewer can mean the world to a Doctor Who fan) or any Pond-lovers sobbing and curious to see how Amy and Rory's 2000 year old relationship could possibly be ending. So we all sat down to watch with high expectations which the first five minutes or so definitely reached. Skaro! Dalek-Human Puppets!  Amy and Rory not speaking to each other (I can't put an exclamation mark here, it's too sad). And the Dalek's best line ever 'ROR-Y WILL-IAMS IS RE-QUIRED!'

And then Jenna Louise Coleman showed up. And millions of jaws hit the floor.

Yes, this review has to focus on Jenna as it clearly is her episode. Stuff the Daleks, apologies Amy and Rory, but most of the running time is swallowed up by the sexy, hilarious, genius, heart-breakingly sad character of Oswin Oswald whom will have many theories about her appearing on fan forums till Christmas. Coleman plays the part superbly and lifts the character from Moffat stock feisty woman to something more believable. Of course, if Oswin is to be Jenna's regular part she will need to be fleshed out considerably more but for now she worked completely and more than whetted our appetite.

However, the focus on Oswin sadly meant the show's current companions were shunned slightly, which is a great shame as this episode concerned a major point in their relationship. Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill are as ever excellent in their roles and there's that wonderful scene in the Asylum where we get the reason for their separation but overall the story of their near-divorce is reduced to its basics. In my books, more Amy and Rory is always a good thing so its sad to see them pushed to the side but I see that for the good of the other elements of the story it had to be done.

Speaking of other elements, I think its time to cover this episode's titular stars. As with many other episodes of the Moffat era, despite the showy title, Asylum of the Daleks is really about its main characters than those mad, bad pepper pots. Having said that, there is a lot of all-new Dalek stuff to wallow in. The Parliament of the Daleks, for one,  is a wonderful idea. The scene there at the beginning deftly shows the animosity that the Doctor and the Daleks have for each other which is then wonderfully switched at the climax when the Doctor gets to laugh in their faces as they have no idea who he is. The Daleks' completely forgetting their great enemy is a bold and exciting move from Moffat, cunningly linking in the 'Doctor Who?' running theme which will be intriguing to see unfold.

Overall, Asylum of the Daleks is an absolute cracker of an episode. Brimming with brilliant ideas, its also important to give credit to the flawless direction of Nick Hurran who really gives the episode the giddying spectacle and 'Mini-Movie' feel it's going for. It would be unwise to expect such a cinematic episode of Doctor Who every week but this one, with its inclusion of Who's best aliens, strong characters and featuring the most well-kept secret Doctor Who has ever had and likely ever will have, it was a blast. Egg- egg-egg -excellent, you might say.

     The Daleks retreat into the snow as they see what's up next: Dinosaurs on a Spaceship!
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