Adam Graham's Blog: Christians and Superheroes - Posts Tagged "doctor-who"

Netflix v. Amazon Prime: Classic Doctor Who

As someone who's just getting into watching the classic version of Doctor Who, I find a lot of the online streaming options to be-well somewhat inadequate.

Netflix and Amazon Prime both offer a collection of the series, but it's far from complete. I doubt that this is entirely their fault. I lean more towards the BBC being at fault just because of the mint they make on DVDs and selling the Classic Doctor sets story by story.

But the fact is that the collections of Netflix and Amazon Prime are actually quite different, though they have many similarities.

So, here's a doctor by doctor run-down of what each service offers.

First Doctor: Both services offer only one four episode serial, "The Aztecs."

Second Doctor:
Netflix: The five episode story, "Mind Robber."
Amazon Prime: "Mind Robber" plus the four Episode, "Tomb of the Cybermen."
Advantage: Amazon

Third Doctor:
Netflix: Four parters "Spearhead in Space," "The Three Doctors," and "Carnival of Monsters," plus the six part episode "Green Death."
Amazon Prime" "Spearhead in Space." "The Three and Doctors" and "Carnival of Monsters" are available for streaming but at $1.99 an episode and not as part of prime.

Fourth Doctor:

Netflix: "The Ark in Space," (4), "Pyramid of Mars" (4), "Horror of Fang Rock" (4), "The Ribbos Operation" (4), "The Pirate Planet" (4), "The Androids of Tara" (4), "The Power of the Kroll" (4), The City of Death (4), and "The Leisure Hive" (4).

Amazon Prime: The same as above except Prime doesn't offer "The Androids of Tara." but it does offer "The Robots of Death" (4), The Talons of Weng-Chiang (6), and The Armageddon Factor (6).

Interestingly enough "The Androids of Tara" and "The Armageddon Factor" are part of the "Key to Time" series arch from Season 16, so you can get most of the series on Amazon including the end but the Tara Factor you can only get on Netflix, and neither service has "The Stones of Blood."

Fifth Doctor:

Netflix: "The Visitation" (4) and "The Caves of Androzani" (4)
Amazon Prime: The same plus "Earthshock."(4)

Sixth Doctor:

Netflix: Nothing
Amazon Prime: "Vengeance on Varos."(4)

Seventh Doctor:
Netflix: "The Curse of Fenric"(4)
Amazon Prime: The Same plus "Ghost Light" (3)

Overall, both services are lacking, though Amazon does better with five out of six doctors, though only slightly slightly on the last three. Overall, Amazon comes out about nine episodes ahead. It should also be noted that Amazon Prime also comes out slightly head on the revived series as Netflix currently only has episodes going up through Series 6, but Amazon Prime includes the first half of Series 7.

I'm lucky to have both as I'm trying Amazon Prime out primarily for the free shipping.

Netflix's big advantage is that it still offers the DVD option and that they have nearly all Doctor Who DVD releases and given how much the BBC charges for a DVD release of a single story, this is a pretty big plus.

Of course, you have a public library that's stocked full of all or nearly all the DVD releases, Netflix wouldn't have much of an advantage.
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Published on March 01, 2014 09:02 Tags: doctor-who

Book Review: Doctor Who Omnibus, Volume 1

Doctor Who Omnibus Volume 1 Doctor Who Omnibus Volume 1 by Gary Russell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book collects a grand total of 18 Doctor Who comics featuring the tenth doctor: six one shots in between two six issue mini-series, so here's my thoughts on each component on this 400+ page collection.

1) Agent Provacteur: This was the 2008 Doctor Who mini-series and it had lot of good features. The story starts off solidly enough with the Doctor and Martha in search of the best chocolate milkshake ever. However, weirdness is afoot as the populations of entire planets disappear leaving only one survivor. The reasons for this are very confusing and convoluted. The result is a story that. while quirky and fun at times, is also too complex for a six issue comic book. Issue 6 is full of pages with exposition bubbles and very long speech bubbles that's very tedious in a comic. This sounds like it might have been better as a regular if handled right. Still, for some fun interactions between the Doctor and Martha, I'll give this a C.

2) The Whispering Gallery: Another Adventure features the Doctor and Martha visiting a planet where an entire culture is afraid to express their emotions. The Doctor met a girl named Grayla who did. However, when he returns to her planet, he finds that's she died and she finds her last message indicating that she said her culture was right and that there was no place for emotion. The doctor sets out to find out what happened while Martha stays behind in the whispering gallery, a place where pictures containing parts of the consciousness of the dead whisper their regrets. It's a thought provoking story about things that aren't said and regrets that's surprisingly moving for a comic book. The only thing I can ding this one on is art that's kind of iffy. Grade: B+

3) Time Mechanations: A great Doctor solo story where he meets HG Wells and a mysterious friend in Victorian England and he needs a part to repair the TARDIS. However, he's hindered by the fact that Queen Victoria banished him during Season 2 of the Revived Series. And there's even more than that than meets the eye. A very good solid timey wimey story that's deserving of Doctor Who. Grade: A

4)Autopia: The Doctor and Donna travel to a planet where humans have become lazy and indolent as they live in luxury while machines serve their every need. The Doctor and his companion are promptly ordered executed. Now they have to save their lives and try to change a lazy society without destroying it. Slightly contrived, but understandably so for the limits of a one shot. Grade: B

5) The Cold Blooded War: The Doctor and Donna arrive by accident on a planet that's about to have their first queen running the country. They'd actually been trying to attend an opera and the doctor said he'd been waiting so long for tickets that he'd ordered them back when he had a long scarf. Unfortunately, it's all down from there with a heavy handed tale that's tedious and unengaging. Grade: D

6) Room with a Deja View: The doctor encounters a creature who lives backwards in crime who is charged with a crime. The tale is an interesting concept, but it's a tad confusing, and also a bit dubious from the standpoint of whether the Doctor would actually do this as it requires multiple version of the tenth doctor and traveling back through his own timeline. Still, a worthy experiment. Grade: B

7) Black Death White Life: The Doctor and Martha arrive in the middle ages when a plague's occurring that isn't supposed to according to the history books. The cause is unknown but an alien creature is helping a local priest heal them which means aliens are also behind the disease. This is an okay story, but given what it actually represented, it was only borderline on the inventiveness side and Martha's question on the end is uncharacteristically dumb. Grade: C+

8) The Forgotten: This six issue mini-series finds the Doctor and Martha inexplicably at a museum dedicated to the Doctor. The Doctor loses his memory of all of his past regenerations and has to get them back in order to figure out what's happening to him. Each time he touches an object from one of his prior selves, he regains a bit and finds a clue. This means that in the six issue mini-series there are nine mini-stories featuring each of the first nine doctors. Given that there's hardly any easily available reprints of the first three doctors and the eighth and ninth, this is a great bonus. The first two doctors are even done in black and white. Even though I'm pretty new to the doctor, I was pretty amazed by the amount of history and companions that this story represents. Longer time fans of the Doctor will probably appreciate it even more. The mini-series had some great humor, but also some poignant moments particularly in Issue 6. Compared to the memories and the resolution, what actually is behind this isn't as great. Still, I think it's solid. Grade: A

This story definitely has a couple great gems in, one total dud, and a few that are between mediocre and good.

I checked this out from my local public library. If I were buying, I would probably only purchase the trade paperback containing the Forgotten.

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Published on March 31, 2014 20:04 Tags: doctor-who

Book Review: Doctor Who: The Cruel Sea (Comics)

Doctor Who: The Cruel Sea Doctor Who: The Cruel Sea by Gareth Roberts

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Coinciding with ninth Doctor's one season reign on television was an equally brief period as the Doctor in Doctor Who Magazine comics. This book collects those stories from Doctor Who Magazine #355-#364 and the 2006 Doctor Who Annual.

With the exception of the Annual, all the art is by Mike Collins who does a crackerjack job on the art. Whether drawing 1960s London or a truly menacing Martian landscape, Collins does a superb job. His backgrounds are rich and fully textured and Doctor and Rose are both beautifully drawn. As the Doctor would say, the art is "Fantastic."

Now, onto the stories:

1) The Love Invasion (Doctor Who Magazine #355-#357): The Doctor and Rose arrive in 1960s London to find an alien force at work. It's building something where Rose's neighborhood should be built and is using then "lend a hand" girls, a group of do-gooding young women as part of its plan. The plan is pretty unique for alien invasion plans and unfolds nicely. Writer Gareth Roberts captures the cadence of the 9th Doctor's voice perfectly while also taking a nice peak at the 1960s. My least favorite part is a very forced "Batman and Robin sleeping together" joke. But otherwise this is sold. Grade: B+

2) Art Attack (DWM #358): The Doctor takes Rose to see the Mona Lisa, but why go to the Louvre (which Rose could do on her own) when he could take her to a museum where the painting is exhibited in the future. Collins writes as well as doing the art and this story is probably more okay than brilliant. The alien is probably Collins' weakest creation as an artist in this book. Grade: B-

3) The Cruel Seas (DWM #359-362): Rob Shearman, writer of the Season 1 Episode Dalek as well as the audio drama it was based on as well as many author Doctor Who books and radio drama turns in his only comic book story here as the Doctor and Rose land on a cruise ship on an artificial sea on Mars which houses a rich man and his never ending supply of Wives and Ex-Wives. The story is probably the best in the book and lives up to being that type of story which Doctor Who could tell on television if it only had the budget for it. The story is a great mix of sci fi and horror with elements of dream, nightmare, and surrealism. Art and story blend for a fantastic mix. Grade: A-

4) Mr. Nobody (Doctor Who Annual 2006): An alien cult that's fanatical about its belief in reincarnation determines that a 26 year old is the reincarnation of someone they believe should have been executed, so they set out to do so. This story features the return of Scott Gray who wrote for the eighth Doctor Comic series. My overall reaction to the story was kind of blah particularly at the average guy's reaction. Grade: C+

5) A Groatsworth of Wit (Doctor Who Magazine #363, 364): In the last 9th Doctor comic by Gareth Roberts, Aliens offer Robert Greene, a playwright and contemporary critic of Shakespeare a chance to come to the 21st Century to find out how he's remembered. To his dismay he finds himself all but forgotten but the upstart Shakespeare is remembered which leads Greene to go on a reign of terror in the 21st Century before heading back to his own time to do away with the Bard. This is the most inconsistent story in the book. On one hand, the Doctor poo poos relativism and opines on the existence of absolute evil using the aliens as exhibit A. The story itself is a nice case study in the destructiveness of envy. On the other hand, you have Shakespeare hitting on Rose which is a bit uncomfortable although it produces a few hilarious lines such as when Rose responds to a Shakespearean pick up, "If you want, but it's not going to get you anywhere." On balance, I wish Roberts had left it out. Still, a nice concluding line from Rose to the 9th Doctor brings the Doctor's career in comics to a close.

The text story, "What I Did On My Summer Holiday by Sally Sparrow" includes many key elements that writer Stephen Moffat would reuse for Blink but isn't quite the same story without the Weeping Angels. It includes many of the timey wimey elements and none of the horror which makes it fun reading.

The book also features 12 pages of commentary that's all pretty interesting stuff and gives good insight into how the comics were produced. Overall, this is a pretty interesting collection that allows fans of the 9th Doctor to enjoy five more adventures with him.

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Published on November 18, 2014 17:57 Tags: cruel-sea, doctor-who

Ranking the Doctor Who Christmas Specials

The tenth Doctor Who Christmas Special will air tomorrow, so I decided to go ahead and rank the Doctor Who Christmas specials so far from worst to best. I'll keep spoilers to a minimum.

9) Voyage of the Damned (2007):

There's a lot to like about this one. There's some cool ideas like a shipped based on the Titanic flying through space. It's stylishally designed and it features many interesting characters, who are all killed off depressing ways, while the most unlikable detestable characters are the only ones to survive. This is the most depressing Christmas special ever (And that includes the Dragnet where a boy was shot and killed on Christmas Eve) because it revels in a sort of miserable cynicism which feeds to a very unsatisfactory explanation of why this is all happening. (Insurance fraud? Really?)

I will give it that it gave the Tenth Doctor that great, "Allonsy, Alonzo." moment. There's also a bit of self-aware parody as people in London are all leaving town after two straight Christmases of having the British Capitol ravaged by alien incursions.

8) The Doctor, the Widow, and the Wardrobe (2011):

This was okay, but nothing really special. I liked the titular feisty widow and empathized her. Beyond that, this kind of fails as a tribute to Narnia as the main Narnia elements seem to be 1) Children going to an unfamiliar house, 2) stumbling in a Winter Wonderland, and 3) meeting talking trees. That's just not enough. Matt Smith turns a nice performance as the Eleventh Doctor. Overall, the story is fun, but ultimately forgetable.

7) The End of Time (2009):

There's so much good in the Tenth Doctor's epic finale and so much that's over the top bad. The good moments are represented with Bernard Cribbins playing Wilfred Mott and the way he interacts with the Doctor, as well as some honest moments. There's some good action and nice plot twits. On the other hand, the plot also has a lot of problems, and is way too long thanks to over-indulgent script. David Tennant's farewell was powerfully shot, but to me, the simple dignity of Pertwee, Tom Baker, or Christoper Eccleston was far preferable and heroic.

6) Time of the Doctor (2013):

Matt Smith's final episode was a bit of a mess and a comedown after Day of the Doctor. I really thought that the Eleventh Doctor's regernation was handled brilliantly with dignity and reflection. The Doctor himself remained thoroughly likable and heroic throughout. Yet, the story also had problems. The main thing was that it felt like we were only get snippets of the actual story, a few highlights of this 300 year period protecting the town of Christmas on the Planet Trenzalore. While End of Time needed to be not so long, this could have done with a little more time to tell us the story. In addition, the story also seemed to use plot convenience to move along that violated understandings that had been set by Moffat as writer and showrunner. But at the end of the day, I will say that Time of the Doctor left me wanting more and intrigued rather than worn out.

5) The Snowmen (2012)

This special served as an introduction to Clara as companion. It also reintroduced us to the Great Intelligence. Trying to make people afraid of snowmen is a challenge but they did a good job making them look menacing. The special also introduces a fantastic new design for the TARDIS, and Strax had some good moments as well.

4) The Next Doctor (2008):

This was a post-Series 4 special for the Tenth Doctor as he finds a man identifying himself as a future incarnation (David Morrissey). The episode has some nice emotional tension, and a clever mystery at its core, plus Cybermen in Victorian England are a great touch. I liked the ending which was as good as it got for the Tenth Doctor in the "Specials" series between 2008-2010.

3) The Runaway Bride (2006):

The first appearance of Donna Noble, who encounters the Tenth Doctor after he lost Rose. Donna was whisked away by her wedding into the TARDIS without explanation. This was a really fun episode. While there are some repeats from "The Christmas Invasion," I can forgive that for what Donna brought to this episode as a feisty and humorous guest star, who in the final 10-15 minutes would show the type of stuff that would make her one of the best companions of the Revived series. The story has a very dark scene, but it doesn't overwhelm things. This is one story that is underrated in my opinion, and it's too bad that Donna did continue on the TARDIS and star in both Series 3 and 4.

2) The Christmas Invasion (2005):

The Christmas Invasion is good throughout, until the last 20 minutes when David Tennant arrived in pajamas and a bath robe to save the world. In those last 20 or so minutes, the Tenth Doctor saves the Earth, topples the British government, chooses a snazzy new outfit, and has a nice Christmas dinner. In many ways, this was a brilliant stroke by Russell T. Davies because these 20 minutes not only are entertaining, but give us a full preview of the new Doctor and everything his character is going to be over the next 3 + Series: from his playful side, to his, "yo u get one chance" rule, to the fierce anger and arrogance that leads him to bring down the government of Harriet Jones.

1) A Christmas Carol (2010)

If there's one episode of Doctor Who I'm tempted to rewatch on Christmas, it's this one. The Doctor Who take on the Christmas Carol manages to capture the central ideas of the story but take it an entirely new direction in innovative, imaginative, and moving ways. It's a story with beautiful music, and the Eleventh Doctor at his best and of all the Doctor Who Christmas episodes, this is my favorite by a mile.
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Published on December 24, 2014 17:10 Tags: christmas, doctor-who

Book Review: Doctor Who Omnibus: Volume 2

Doctor Who Omnibus Volume 2 Doctor Who Omnibus Volume 2 by Tony Lee

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book collects all Sixteen Issues of IDW's first Ongoing Doctor Who Story featuring David Tennant as well as stories from the 2010 Doctor Who Annual and the Eleventh Doctor Mini-series, a Fairy Tale Life. The events of the main comic are set between in between the television stories, "Planet of the Dead" and "The Waters of Mars."

Issues 1 and 2 finds the Doctor in 1930s Hollywood teaming up with a knock off Charlie Chaplain to thwart aliens disguised as studio executive. The story is okay. Nothing great, but certainly okay.

In Issues 3-6, he's put on trial by the Shadow Proclamation, convicted, confined with Ambassadors from old Doctor Who enemies the Sontarans, the Draconians, and the Ograns. Together they have to team up and escape and find out what's going on. The plot is fun, as well as the interaction between the Doctors and these characters. At the end of the story, the Shadow Proclamation tells the Doctor they prefer he travels alone because it makes him easier to manipulate. Even though this could have been an attempt to manipulate him into taking on companions, he does so anyway by adding Emily Winters and Matthew Finnegan (the first two people he meets) as Companions.

These two and their story would dominate the next ten Issues from Issues 7-16 and these stories are mostly okay. If anything, the stories are crowded by too much nostalgia. We have references to Adric and a diary by Turlough (supposedly) and trips back to see Martha Jones and talk about Martha's issues in the TARDIS and with the Doctor. Even Capt Magambo from Planet of the Dead appears. While some of this continuity I liked (bonus points for referencing Charlotte Pollard in Issue 3), I think at some point, it hindered the writer for focusing on making the story he was telling as compelling and original as possible.

The 2010 Annual with, "Ground Control" where the TARDIS is grounded by a bureaucrat who challenged the way the Doctor did it with many flashbacks to the past. Again, it continues the "Nostalgia" theme of most of the book and nothing much actually happens.

"The Big, Blue Box" is an eleven page story of a man who finds him thrust into the Doctor's world. It's a fun little action piece, though not the most original idea for a Doctor Who Comic story.

Then there's, "To Sleep, Perchance to Dream" is an art-heavy piece with lots of nostalgia as the Tenth Doctor dreams and even meets his future self. The art is interesting.

Finally, we have the mini-series, "A Fairy Tale Life" in which the Eleventh Doctor and Amy land on a fairy tale theme park World but find that it's instead become a really medieval country. This story (more than any other in the book) felt like classic Doctor Who in its set up and mystery as it plays out over four issues. The story's a lot of fun and and writer Matt Sturges captures the Eleventh Doctor's voice very well. I can almost hear Matt Smith reading every line as I read this. So, a great story.

It's the only really great story in here. Nothing in here is bad, but most of it's merely okay. If you feel wistfully nostalgic for the Tenth Doctor's era, you'll enjoy this book. If you're looking for really solid Doctor Who comics with the Tenth Doctor, you'd probably do better to check out the Doctor Who Magazine comics collections featuring the Tenth Doctor.

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Published on April 11, 2015 19:52 Tags: doctor-who

Book Review: Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor, Volume 1

Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor Vol.1 Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor Vol.1 by Nick Abadzis

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book features adventures of the 10th Doctor set sometime after Series 4.

To start off with, let's talk about the art: Wow! Elena Casagrande nails the art. Her likeness of Tennant, of the TARDIS interior is perfect. She puts so much into each character. The art throughout this is incredibly complex and rich. I've rarely seen a comic look this good unless it was painted by Alex Ross.

The stories are fairly good. Gabby makes a great new companion. She's a likable and interesting character who you can easily relate to. The stories were fairly clever themed. I'd like the first one centering on New York's celebration of the Day of the Dead, and the second one on another planet involving a reclusive artist and her insane assistants. There were some decent concepts, with the second story revisiting the idea of block transfer mathematics from the Fourth and early Fifth Doctor era without seeming too wistful.

The biggest problem is that while Casagrande captures the physical appearance of the Tenth Doctor, Abadzis really struggles that Doctor's unique voice. There are a few parts of the book that are a bit verbose, and I should there are some elements in the second story parents might find problematic. Still, this is a gorgeous book and gives a wonderful new look at Titan's 10th Doctor Title.

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Published on April 27, 2015 19:28 Tags: comics, doctor-who, tenth-doctor

Death in Heaven: Stephen Moffat's Lesson in Love

Science Fiction often tries to teach lessons…Give a hoot, don’t pollute and be kind and unbigoted. Lessons on hot topic issues are fired at the audience with all the subtlety of a “This is Your Brain on drugs” ad. For Series 8 of Doctor Who, show runner Stephen Moffat took a different tact in talking about the military and along the way was criticized by fans for having the Doctor be anti-military, while the World Socialists organization has accused the show of being jingoistic and militaristic.

The Doctor’s relationship with the military is often complex. The Doctor, more often than not, ends up butting heads with military authorities. At the same time, he’s often found military allies. Most famously, the Doctor served as a scientific advisor to U.N.I.T. during the 1970s and is technically still on their payroll. He formed an occasionally contentious friendship with Brigadier Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart, Captain Yates, and Sergeant Benton. Other times, he’d have random military allies such a group of soldiers who volunteered to fight Cybermen in Earthshock. The Eighth Doctor asked to be a warrior in “Night of the Doctor.” Originally, the Doctor ended the Time War by wiping out his own people as well as the Daleks.

***Spoilers for Series 8 ahead***

However, after “Day of the Doctor,” the destruction of Gallifrey was done away with and from episode two it became clear the twelfth Doctor had a distinct dislike for soldiers. In his second episode, “Into the Dalek,” he meets a brave female soldier named Journey Blue who is fighting the Daleks. After the adventure, she asks to join the Doctor and the Doctor rejects her outright, saying, “I think you're probably nice. Underneath it all, I think you're kind. You're definitely brave. I just wish you hadn't been a soldier.”

In that episode, we also met Danny Pink, who teaches math at Cole Hill School. He was a former soldier and gets questions about it. One student asks whether he killed anyone. The students have an excuse, being kids. However, adults can be cloddish, too. Danny says there’s a moral component to modern soldiering, and it just wasn’t about shooting people. Clara says, “Ah. You shoot people and then you cry about it afterwards.” This is very unkind as Danny is shown to suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome

After the Doctor’s unkind dismissal of Journey Blue, Clara decides to date Danny, saying she has no rule against soldiers. Yet she manages to be amazingly insensitive in “Listen,” when they joke about a flighty student and Clara says she could kill that girl some days. Danny agrees and Clara says, “From you, that means something.” He explains in utter exasperation that in the Army, he dug twenty-three wells that saved whole villages of people that he didn’t kill. Clara still doesn’t get it and ends up walking out of the date in total cluelessness. We later learn that episode the whole reason Danny became a soldier was to keep people safe.

Throughout this season, we’re shown even out of the military, protecting people is what Danny does. At the same time, it becomes clear, though he was a soldier, he was no fan of war or every aspect of military culture. He and the Doctor meet half way through the season in, “Caretaker,” where the Doctor continually mistakes Danny for a PE teacher despite Danny explaining multiple times he teaches math. Danny throws back the Doctor’s attitude against Danny as a soldier by identifying him with nobility and officers who push people around and give people orders but then claim to have clean hands.

He warned Clara the Doctor was someone who pushed Clara to her limits to be better, but would someday push her too far, and made her promise to come to him when that happened and warned they would be through if she broke that promise. “If you don't tell me the truth I can't help you. And I could never stand not being able to help you.”

She does tell Danny when it happens in, “Kill the Moon,” and plans to leave the Doctor after one last trip in the TARDS but changes her mind while hiding the change from Danny, lying to him until the penultimate story of Series Eight, “In the Forest of Night” when it’s revealed she’s still been traveling with the Doctor behind his back.

Throughout the series, Danny is rock solid but quiet. When Clara is in danger, he fights a robot to save Clara in, “The Caretaker.” “In the Forest of Night,” Danny saves the Doctor and Clara from a tiger. When the Earth appears to be doomed, Clara knows Danny would never leave the children to save himself. Danny is a grounded hero. He doesn’t want to go on adventures in the TARDIS. “I don't want to see more things. I want to see the things in front of me more clearly. There are wonders here, Clara Oswald…One person is more amazing, harder to understand, but more amazing than universes.”

Danny dies at the start of “Dark Waters” and we eventually learn Missy has been using Time Lord technology to capture the souls of the deceased for quite a long time. So he finds himself inside a cloud server “afterlife” where we learn what traumatized him so. While overseas in a war zone, he accidentally killed a child while searching for terrorists. The scene where he meets the child and tries to talk with him is heartbreaking.

Then in “Death in Heaven,” Missy’s insane plan plays out and the dead turn into Cybermen, including Danny. His emotions aren’t deactivated, but as a Cyberman he can never be with Clara and Clara’s words wound him further. (yes, this was a pattern for this relationship.) So he asks Clara to turn on the inhibitor to deactivate his emotions. The Doctor fears if she does, Danny will kill her immediately. However, Clara gets her way.

Missy has the Cybermen do aerobics then gives the Cybermen to the Doctor by handing him a controller to prove that they aren’t that different. A cloud will turn everyone on Earth into Cybermen which will be under the Doctor’s command. The Doctor sees what Missy doesn’t. Danny isn’t obeying. He realizes that while Danny’s emotions have been deactivated, some things hasn’t. “Because love, it's not an emotion. Love is a promise. And he will never hurt her.”

The Doctor throws the controller to Danny, who realizes the cloud threatening to convert the living, too, can be destroyed by the converted dead blowing themselves up. Danny speaks to his troops, “This is Earth's darkest hour. And look at you miserable lot. We are the Fallen. But today, we shall rise. The army of the dead will save the land of the living. This is not the order of a general, nor the whim of a lunatic… This is a promise. The promise of a soldier!” And he turns to Clara and tells her, “You’ll sleep safe tonight.”

So he dies saving the Earth, and its people, along with the woman he loved. The episode aired November 8, 2014, just days before Remembrance Day in the U.K. (known as Veteran’s Day in the U.S.). Danny’s speech was a tribute to the fact it was because of the fallen that the land of the living had been saved. It was the promise of soldiers who had gone to their deaths to save wives, sweethearts, and children from evil by which free peoples sleep each tonight.

However, as fans of Doctor Who will tell you, ever since Moffat took over in 2010, one death or even two deaths is not enough to be final. The control device’s magic offers Danny has one more chance to return to life. Instead he sends back the boy he’d accidentally shot.

The entire Eighth Series of Doctor Who had been set up to lead to this moment, to this tribute to the fallen warriors of the First World War right down to its scheduling. The series finale had to be on the date it was to really carry the weight Moffat wanted it to. It’s perhaps one of the most strategically planned messages ever. It’s easy to write a song or insert some random patriotism, but the planning on this showed dedication.

At the same time, it made some people who had been comfortable uncomfortable. Many people who will loudly trumpet themselves totally unbigoted and rail against racism, sexism, etc. Yet, they will often make judgments of people who serve or have served in the military as a bunch of bloodthirsty nut jobs who slaughter civilians and treat the streets of foreign nations like Warcraft and are unthinking killing machines.

Danny Pink is closer to what most actual soldiers are like. The whole of Series 8 had a lot to say about how the people often treat soldiers and the unfair assumptions made about them. Most soldiers serve to protect people, not to kill them. If they know some innocent died as a result of their actions, most would gladly trade their own lives if they had the chance to do over again.

The story shows the great love of a good soldier who lays down his life for his friends. it paints a picture of a love that has more in common with the Biblical concept of love rather than the “you make me feel good” love that’s so exalted in our culture.

This doesn’t deny the reality that many wars are unjust or ill-advised. At times, negotiations make more sense than war. It also doesn’t deny that there are some bad soldiers. However the take away from Series 8 if you have a problem with a conflict, contact the White House, Downing Street, or whatever address you have in your country. Don’t disrespect the people who wear the uniform.
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Published on June 07, 2015 15:11 Tags: death-in-heaven, doctor-who, soldiers

Book Review: Doctor Who: Engines of War

Doctor Who: Engines of War Doctor Who: Engines of War by George Mann

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Time War was always at the background of the first Seven Series of New Who with the Doctor occasionally mentioning that he had to destroy his own people along with the Daleks to end the War. Yet, details were always a bit sketchy, with the most we ever learned was through, "The End of Time," with the Tenth Doctor desperate to stop the return of Rasillon and telling the Master of how bad the Time War was with Skaro Degradations and the Nightmare Child and Rasillon's plan to end all physical existence in the Universe. In "Name of the Doctor," we learned there was a different version of the Doctor who fought in the Time War and in "Day of the Doctor" we saw him cry, "No more!" and prepare to use the Moment to wipe both sides out. "Engines of War" is the War Doctor's story and what drove him to use the Moment.a

The War Doctor crashes on the Planet Moldox where he encounters Cinder, a young woman whose family has been killed by the Daleks and whose young life has been spent destroying as many as possible. The Doctor discovers a Dalek super weapon which the Daleks plan to use to destroy Gallifrey and he and Cinder go and warn the Time Lords. However, Rassilon's plan for dealing with it will wipe out life on twelve planets. Thus, it's up to the Doctor to stop both the Time Lords and the Daleks.

Putting aside that this is Doctor Who, Engines of War is just an incredibly well-crafted and well-written tale from Start to finish. It's combination of political intrigue, action, and personal drama is well-crafted and fully engaging.

Engines of War shows the Time War in all its horror. Innocent people are caught in a crossfire between the two sides with Cinder and the people of Moldox representing thousands of other planets caught in the struggle. The horrific new Dalek creations of mutants are revolting. Yet, the Time Lords are little better as Rassilon has strapped what remains of the Doctor's old mentor Borousa (who betrayed him to the Five Doctors) to a "possibility engine" which attempts to give the Time Lords an edge. The Time Lord Karlax is sadistic and malevolent and represents the decline of all the Time Lords in the midst of this lengthy war.

At the same time, the book reveals insights into the War Doctor and Mann writes a character that while he no longer claims the name of the Doctor, he still very much is that man. This Doctor still has his eccentric moments. He also strikes up a very warm relationship with Cinder. There's very little this Doctor does that wouldn't have been in character for mother incarnations of the Doctor. Only his attempt to throttle Karlax in the High Council chamber stands out and the Third Doctor might have tried that.

Nicholas Briggs commented in the extras for, "Dark Eyes" that a story about the Time War would be pretty boring but then added that statement might come back to haunt him. So of course, he ends up narrating the novel about the Time War and doing an amazing job. Briggs is legendary for his Dalek voices but is a very strong actor. It's hard to imagine that John Hurt would have done any better, particularly with all the other voices. Briggs brings every character to life and showcases the range of his vocal talent. BBC audiobooks didn't spare any expense with its sound effects and it really does build this epic feel.

There's very little to criticize with this book. I will say that the Chapter with Jocelyn Harris, a Governor of a province who appears in one chapter and is killed, is kind of pointless. Also, some of the basic ideas of the War Doctor from the TV show seem to have not really been followed through. The War Doctor explains that he's no longer called the Doctor once. And thereafter, everyone in the book calls him the Doctor and he makes no attempt to correct them. It does seem like the Doctor would have come up with another name during the War if he wasn't going by the Doctor. Also, it's not really believable that the Doctor would not have weapons on the TARDIS during the Time War. And if he didn't, it's a bit of a stretch to imagine an unarmed Type 40 into battle along with Battle TARDISes against Dalek fleets. It seemed like there was discomfort with having the Doctor use weapons even if this incarnation was supposed to be a "warrior."

Still, despite these minor flaws, this is an essential audiobook that does the Time War justice.

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Published on July 31, 2015 06:30 Tags: doctor-who, time-war

Book Review: Doctor Who Series 2: The Girl Who Waited, The Boy Who Live

Doctor Who Series 2: The Girl Who Waited, The Boy Who Lived Doctor Who Series 2: The Girl Who Waited, The Boy Who Lived by Tony Lee

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book collects the Second IDW ongoing Eleventh Doctor Comic Book series for Doctor Who, all 16 Issues plus the 2011 Annual. The stories are essentially set either between Series 5 and 6 or during Series 6 itself on Television. Here's a story by story breakdown:

1) Spam Filtered: What happens when Amy and Rory attempt to check their email in the TARDIS? Their phones interact with the TARDIS and the result is Spam email messages brought to life. It's insanely wonderful madcap tale and a perfect start for the Comic. I was laughing throughout. Rating: A+

2)Ripper's Curse: Amy, Rory, and the Doctor investigate the Ripper murders. Really, a story that was good enough for television and the art is absolutely gorgeous on this one. It's a superb pseudo historical. Rating: A

3) They Think It's All Over: The Doctor arrives several centuries Early for a Soccer game and the TARDIS crew find themselves caught in the middle of medieval political intrigue. The only way out? A Soccer shout-out with Vikings. Fun, if a bit insubstantial. Grade: B+

4) When World's Collide: The Doctor, Rory, and Amy are having a holiday on a planet where people tour a variety of fantasy worlds from the Old West to the age of the dinosaurs. However, the Sontarans crash into a planet creating a confusing situation. I personally don't care for the art of Matthew Dow Smith compared to other's in the book. It's a lot cruder than in other stories and this story would have been a lot more fun with more vivid art. Still, it's okay. Grade: B

5) Space Squid: A one shot about the Doctor, Amy, Rory, and the newest companion Robot Dinosuar Kevin as he tries to find his place in the TARDIS. It's a decent concept and an okay story. Grade: B

6) Body Snatched: A somewhat dull and predictable body swap tale. Didn't really like that much at all. Very cliched. Grade: C-

7) Silent Knight: A silent Christmastime strip that tries to be funny relying on visual gags and mostly doesn't really succeed. Grade: C-

8) As Time Goes By: A Doctor Who story with a Casablanca theme. It's an interesting idea, but it doesn't do much with the idea of Doctor Who in Casablanca, although there's a bit of an emotional element in there. Don't know where writer Joshua Hale Fialkov was going with this. Grade: B-

9) Run Doctor Run: This is the first of three tales in the Annual and each is more about art than story. This has the Doctor running around a strange landscape that kind of reminded me of Castrovalva. Grade: B-

10) Down to Earth: The Doctor checks in on a former alien invader who has repaired his spaceship. Okay, nothing spectacular. Grade: B

11) Tuesday: Amy's account of an adventure to save the crown from aliens and how Rory became the King. It's odd story but definitely fun. Grade: B+

Overall, there are some enjoyable stories here and the Series was better than the prior Tennant series which was weighed down by nostalgia. On the other hand, the quality differs quite a bit and the first volume is clearly the best with others not quite as strong.

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Published on August 03, 2015 22:02 Tags: doctor-who, eleventh-doctor

Book Review: Doctor Who: Endgame

Doctor Who: Endgame Doctor Who: Endgame by Alan Barnes

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book collects the first two years of Eighth Doctor Comic strips for Doctor Who Magazine and introduces Izzy Sinclair.

Overall, what does make the Strips work is that there is a lot of continuity, in fact much more than in the modern Doctor Who Magazine Comic strips I've read. At this point, in terms of creating the Doctor, the magazine had little direction other than the TV Movie as this portrayal came before even the novels.

The best stories in the book are, "Fire and Brimstone" featuring the Daleks, "The Final Chapter" featuring a mystery on Gallifrey and then "Wormwood" where the source comes together and it all involves an alien and a 19th Century Texas tycoon. On the other side of the ledger, the title story, "Endgame" was dull and "Tooth and Claw" (no resemblance to the 10th Doctor TV story of the same name) was cheesy and unfunny at the same time.

There were also two one off stories that were included at he end even though these unrelated stories fell in the midst of the the story arc. These are okay with a funny moment or two but not spectacular.

Overall, despite some hiccups, this is a fairly good, with the overall strength of the story arc making this worth reading despite some weaker individual entries.

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Published on November 07, 2015 23:39 Tags: doctor-who, doctor-who-magazine, eighth-doctor-comics

Christians and Superheroes

Adam Graham
I'm a Christian who writes superhero fiction (some parody and some serious.)

On this blog, we'll take a look at:

1) Superhero stories
2) Issues of faith in relation to Superhero stories
3) Writing Superhe
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