Doctor Who Character Review: Series 6 and 7


by William Hohmeister

This is a character review of Doctor Who series 6 and 7. The review of the story arcs, the writing, and my hopes and dreams are in tomorrow’s article. I hope you enjoy.doctor_who__matt_smith__by_iamherecozidraw-d5f5bd5

The Doctor

I do not like the Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith). This can be complicated, because everyone has “their” Doctor. Mine was Nine (Christopher Eccleston). Ten (David Tennant) is a close second. But I don’t like Eleven, and I think he was objectively bad. Smith was at his best when the Doctor was not portrayed as a hero.

Smith excelled as both the rock star Doctor and the fussy old man. When he’s the rock star, he challenges entire species and they back down. In “The Angels Take Manhattan”, River Song (Alex Kingston) describes him as “An ageless god who insists on the face of a twelve-year-old.” When he’s the old man, he lies and tricks his friends to protect them. In “Journey to the Center of the TARDIS”, the Doctor says “Secrets keep us safe.”

These dual personalities work well together. The Doctor saves the day and takes a bow most of the time, but when he is frustrated he turns mean and cynical. He lashes out at his friends in “The Impossible Astronaut”, and at first refuses to help because he doesn’t like that they are keeping a secret from him. In “The Doctor’s Wife”, he speaks with the TARDIS for the first time in his long life, and within hours he has to say goodbye. He has a rock star moment, drops the façade to say goodbye, then covers up again.

While the Doctor behaves brazenly and lies constantly, he lives free of consequences. I don’t like Eleven because he has no character arc. A slight setback – not a loss – causes him to pout and whine. Amy’s and Rory’s “deaths” come with the knowledge that they lived long lives after they left him. For his diva old man personality to work, it needs to have consequences. Instead, the Doctor is always right and always does just the right thing. Almost no one ever calls him on it.

The Companions

claramotorcycleI don’t like Amy Pond (Karen Gillan) either. I rarely cared about her character. She and the Doctor do have an interesting relationship. As I said in my series 5 review, the Doctor likes Amy because she was a little girl when they met, and remains infatuated (not necessarily romantically) with him for most of series 6. But the Doctor is equally dependent on her. In “The Impossible Astronaut”, Amy convinces the Doctor to help when no one else can convince him. In both “The Power of Three” and “The Time of the Doctor”, the Doctor claims Amy is special because “You were the first face this face [the Doctor’s] saw.” I think the Doctor imprinted on Amelia Pond, which explains why he cares about her to the exclusion of everyone else.

Amy and Clara Oswald (Jenna Louise-Coleman) are the same character. Both characters are defined by their relationship to the Doctor. Amy begins to develop an independent personality, but is killed off before it takes hold. Clara’s personality and her entire existence depend on the Doctor. I like Clara more, but the writers designed her to be liked, not to be a person.

Try to describe both characters without referring to their job, their role in the plot, or their relationship with the Doctor. Amy is a snarky, rude child growing up reluctantly. Clara is bouncy, bubbly, and cute. Clara does not have a personality. She’s a Care Bear.

Clara is interesting, however, in “The Asylum of the Daleks”. She’s a Dalek resisting her programming. She helps the Doctor. I wish this version had survived and traveled with the Doctor, instead of the usual “cute girl with a crush” Companion we got.

Rory Williams (Arthur Darvill) and River Song/Melody Pond are the best Companions. River has such a huge, bizarre backstory, but we see almost none of it. We see the beginning, when she is kidnapped by the Silence, and the end, when she “kills” the Doctor. I want to know how she went from psychopath raised by her childhood friends/parents, to the level-headed, time-traveling, TARDIS-flyinglady who married the Doctor. River’s kidnapping is also the only event with consequences. The Doctor fails to rescue her from the Silence, and River kills him. Amy convinces her to help, but River has to give up her regenerations to save him.

Rory acts as the adult and the moral center of the group. In “The Girl Who Waited,” Rory and the Doctor discuss quarantined patients with a fatal disease:

Rory: Are they happy?

The Doctor: Oh, Rory. Trust you to think of that.

Amy is trapped as well, but not in danger from the disease. This is my favorite episode of series 5-7, and I’ll talk about it more in the next article.

Rory also has a moment of awesome in “A Good Man Goes to War”, but I could not find a video of it. However, no list of Companions is complete without Craig so I found two videos of him. Ladies and gentlemen, Craig:

True Blood: The Final Two Reviewed


Today, I’ll cover the last 2 episodes (ever!) of True Blood. I have mixed feelings about the way the series ends, so let’s just dive in:

“Love is to Die,” the 9th episode of True Blood‘s 7th season (its penultimate episode of the series), centers around Bill’s decision not to drink the antidote that is in Sarah Newlins blood. Sookie and Jessica are both distraught, of course. Bill has been a vampire father to Jessica, more real than her own living father, more prescient and important to her. Bill has been Sookie’s lover, and I think we’re supposed to gather that he was her first real love. And, ya know, the antidote is standing in front of him and would take about  90 seconds, if that to consume. So the girls (like most of the rest of us) are scandalized.

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I cheered when Sookie slapped Bill, because he was being insufferable. He presents his choice as something else, as some kind of compulsion or fate. Sookie makes him acknowledge that with the antidote to his “fated” death by Hep-V standing right beside him, it’s no longer fate. It’s an active and willful suicide. Bill can’t really articulate his reasons yet. Jessica asks to be released rather than watch him die, rather than deal with giving up his suicide. Bill releases her, and I’d have felt more sympathy for his words if he didn’t have the cure standing 10 ft away from him. When Eric stopped Sookie’s tirade and told Bill to leave, I thought we were hopefully close to Bill’s point of demise rather than having to spend a lot more time on it. Damn, was I wrong.

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Jessica and Sookie, after leaving Fangtasia’s basement (where Sarah Newlin is being held captive) go to Sam’s house. Now, I’ve no idea why. There’s no reason for Jessica and Sookie to go to Sam’s. But go they do, and they discover an empty home and 2 letters. One is for Sookie, and she opens it and reads Sam’s goodbye. He cant stay in Bon Temps–he has to go with Nicole and raise the child she’s about to have. And god, I wish they’d do this sooner. Sam was a favorite of mine for years, and this season he’s been so ill-used as a character that it’d have been better to write him and Nicole a goodbye when she wanted to leave half the season ago.

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So that’s it for Sam, and Sookie goes to Bellefleur’s to break the news to everyone and give Andy the second letter Sam left. It’s a very short “I resign” letter. Arlene and the whole Bellefleur’s staff are there. They’re dining and partying together with the hopes of drawing in customers with the place newly clean and cheerful again. Jessica speaks to James, who is there with Lafayette. She admits that she doesn’t–didn’t really know him and apologizes, says that’s she’s happy that he’s happy. Then she runs off. Sookie stays in the diner, but she doesn’t immediately sit with the group. She and Arlene have a quick, heartfelt conversation though about how Arlene is always able to start over again, and then Sookie joins the crowd for dinner.

Meanwhile, Eric goes to see Bill in hopes of talking him out of death and dying. But Bill is set on doing what he’s doing, and this time he is at least able to explain himself. He tells Eric about the dream of the faceless child and about how Sookie will always be attracted to the dark in them (vampires) because of her fae light, and they’ll always be attracted to her light because of their dark. His solution? Death. This is all puzzling (does Bill think he and Sookie don’t have a real love, that its just a chemical attraction; does he think he’s the only vampire she’s attracted to; why does he get to be the arbiter of her happiness), but Eric agrees that it’s for the best (?) and flies off to convince Sookie to talk to Bill.

Meanwhile, Pam dyes a panicked Sarah Newlin’s hair, taking her back to blonde and preparing to sell her like a prostitute. The highest paid in history, in all likelihood, because of her pure, antidotal blood. Well, that’s dark.

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Eric picks up Sookie outside of Bellefleur’s and asks her to speak with Bill. She reluctantly agrees, and Eric flies her home. It’s pretty cute, actually, and though we know the show isn’t going back down the Sookie-and-Eric road, it’s a nice little moment. They land, and Eric hears the phone ringing, knowing that it must be Bill. Eric leaves, and Sookie talks with Bill over the phone. She agrees that he can come over, and she waits for him there.

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Back at Fangtasia, Ginger finally has her moment. In one of the most bizarrely funny scenes in the show’s history, Eric tells Ginger that they’re finally going to [redacted so this will be SFW]. And they do. For about 10 seconds, anyway, and then Ginger’s done and lying on the floor, snoring happily away. Eric is a little confused, but he straightens his clothes and heads to the basement, where the Yakuza have captured Pam. They almost kill her before Eric admits to telling Sookie about the antidote. Mr. Gus asks for Sookie’s address, and we don’t see the answer Eric gives.

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Across town, though, Jessica has made her way to Hoyt’s house. She interrupts an argument that Bridgette and Hoyt were having about her, about who she is to Hoyt. Jessica explains that she knows Hoyt but he doesn’t know her because they were together before but his memories are gone. Bridgette is furious and gives Hoyt an ultimatum. Unsurprisingly, Hoyt chooses to hear out Jessica, and Bridgette calls Jason to pick her up. When Jason arrives, Hoyt punches him, and he wakes up in his squad car with Bridgette driving. While Hoyt and Jessica talk out their past and their possible future, Jason and Bridgette work on getting her a flight back to Alaska that won’t cost $1200. They get in bed together, with Bridgette assuring Jason that she’ll teaching him “how to not have sex.” It’s a funny, cute moment, even if we’ve all seen Bridgette and Jason’s relationship coming from a mile away.

And that puts us at the beginning of “Thank You,” the show’s final hour. And honestly, I wish it had been better. I spent a lot of time frustrated by Bill, ready for him to just die already. It’s no  secret that he’s never been one of my favorite characters, but he seemed especially boorish in this episode, especially when he finally showed up at Sookie’s, which is where our episode begins. Bill can’t give Sookie children. He can’t do this or that or the other thing for her. And he can’t make her normal…Unless he can. His solution to everything? Sookie should use her fairy light to blast him, meaning she’ll lose all her fae powers and kill Bill in the same instant. What the hell? So it’s not enough that he’s got the sexist mentality that he knows what’s best for her when she’s clearly telling her that it’s not, but now he also wants her to give up an essential part of herself to kill him when 1) he’s already dying, quickly, and 2) he could stake himself or go stand in the sun and accomplish the same thing. Screw you, Vampire Bill.

Meanwhile, Eric glamours Sarah Newlin and makes her drink Pam’s blood. He knows they’ll be able to sense her fear and that Pam will be able to find her, and so they set Sarah free. They do some handy fighting-work to kill the Yakuza still in the room, and Mr. Gus, who has gone through the basement tunnel after Sarah, gets the fire-in-the-hole treatment. Eric then goes to kill the Yakuza who’ve shown up at Sookie’s, and Pam goes to find Sarah. She’s in an abandoned park, in the carousel. She offers to be Pam’s new progeny and to be Pam’s lover. But Pam wants nothing except inoculation. She drinks from Sarah, making her immune to Hep-V.

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And Jessica and Hoyt show up at Bill’s house. Jessica wants to tell Bill that she’s come to terms with what is happening and will be ok. And somehow, Bill manages to guilt Jessica and Hoyt into getting married. Like right then. Andy comes over to perform the ceremony, Sookie comes through with some white dresses, and Arlene, Holley, Jason, and Sookie are witnesses to a ceremony that I think the writers assumed would make fans happy but that only felt clunky and sad to me. As Jessica says, Hoyt’s memories of her only go back a day. How long before he gets tired of everyone in town knowing more about himself than he does? How long before Jessica either gets tired of him again or finds that the differences wrought from memory changes and a new life are too big? Anyway, Andy gets to inherit Bill’s house, since he’s the closest living relative, and he agrees to rent it to Hoyt and Jessica for $1 after Bill’s death. And, mid-wedding, Sookie can hear Bill’s thoughts for the first time. He’s really, really sick.

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After having a chat with the Reverend about free will, Sookie decides that maybe Bill’s plan is best. She meets him in the cemetery after dark, having made all of the arrangements for his grave to be dug up. There’s a coffin there, but of course no Bill. He climbs into the grave, and Sookie stand above him for what seems like a thousand years, contemplating her light-ball. But she can’t do it. Being fae is part of her. Cue my sigh of relief that the show didn’t do something that idiotic. Sookie does, however, climb down into the grave, stake Bill, cry for another eternity while she’s covered in Bill-goop, and then somehow manage to climb out of that grave and go home.

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Cut to about a year later and a horribly hilarious infomercial for New Blood featuring Eric and Pam. About 3 years later, they’re at the NY Stock Exchange, and a year or so after that, they’re in Fangtasia with Sarah Newlin chained in the basement, being sold for about $100,000 a minute for vampires to drink her blood. Sarah’s losing her mind—Steve Newlin is haunting her again. It’s a dark moment before we switch to Thanksgiving at Sookie’s house, where a very pregnant Sookie is getting everything together for a meal. We see Bridgette and Jason with their 3 kids, and most of our other couples as well (Lafayette and James, Holly and Andy, Adilyn and Wade, Lettie May and the Reverend, and Sam and Nicole with their children). Notably absent are Pam and Eric, but I think we’re to assume that Pam and Eric aren’t very involved in Bon Temps anymore. Sookie’s significant other is faceless–we only see his back and a hint of brown hair and beard.

All in all, a decent ending, but it lacks the punch that True Blood once had. Instead of an episode that was thrilling, it was an episode that was predictable and slow-paced. If it were a paper, I’d give it a C-.

The End

Broken Bells – After the Disco Concert Review

After the Disco by the Broken Bells

Last week I tried to talk through some of why I like the Broken Bells. They’re my favorite band; I hope some enthusiasm showed through! But I wanted to give a further look, to give a review of the concert I went to, to let you know where you can find the Broken Bells.

Real photo - just not a real good photo!

Real photo – just not a real good photo!

This is me finishing up my first series of music posts, which have been vaguely connecting through veins of me sharing some of my favorite bands, and talking about how I interact with and find music. Two sides of the same coin, since one of the best ways to find music is through recommendations, and, once recommended, through sampling the music yourself. Hopefully you’ve found someone new or something you like through my writing, because I know your comments and recommendations have helped me find some new music.

So let me know in the comments below what you think of my music series, or the Broken Bells, or who your favorite band is, or really, whatever you like! But for now: Broken Bells!

It’s a Perfect World

As the band came out, it was the vocals that play at the beginning of their recent music video, for Holding on for Life. And on the screen at the back of the stage, projected from a circular mirror array in the middle of the stage, was a reflection of the audience. Spotlights flowed around the audience, which started to bounce and beat and get excited and flow with the start of the music.

The show opened with the first song from their new album, the album they’re touring for, After the Disco. The song is called Perfect World, and it set a stage. The song opens with about a minute of just instrumental, of just them playing. It was a great warm up, a great way to get us in and excited and get things started.

On the screen, they panned away from the audience. Up, into the sky. To the Earth – with a great night sky shot, with all the cities lit up, their own little stars. It pans out further – off and away. Planets. Pulling away further. And then, suddenly, warping away, all with the music.

They took us out, away from home, somewhere else. They took us to a place of sound, of music, away from home and worries, for a while.

For their second song, they played my favorite: The Ghost Inside. I’ve referenced before the power and influence this song holds over me. It was pretty powerful still, it hit me pretty hard. I don’t think I was the only one – there were people dancing in the aisles ahead of us. But honestly? The best part was the end. James Mercer got us all clapping, got us in time. And they flowed, through this time, seamlessly from The Ghost Inside to After the Disco.

After your Faith has let you down,

I know you’ll want to run around,

And follow the crowd into the night,

But after the Disco…

All of the shine

Just faded away

-Broken Bells, After the Disco

It was magical. It was really the beginning of me rethinking their music, of me seeing it in this new light – of them blending and merging their two albums. They did this also on the screens with highlighting a character, mostly a silhouette, of the girl from the Holding on for Life video. I’m not sure if she’s meant to be the same character as Christina Hendricks was in The Ghost Inside – I would understand, I imagine she’s harder to get in a music video these days. Nonetheless, she became this recurring character throughout our journey for the evening.

Their first pause was after After the Disco. Not much, but enough to name the song before they played it: Mongrel Heart. A song I was pleased to see made the cut to the concert: it’s part of the strong finish to their first album, but not necessarily a song that stands entirely on its own. I mean, part of what’s great is how it fades into The Mall and the Misery

So, they transitioned it into The Mall and the Misery.

They did a lot with light during the show. Projections like stars on the theater ceiling, projected rays of light while we were warping away into space. Darkness between songs. It was after The Mall and the Misery that they first did one of their big shifts during the silence: suddenly, they were in a new position.

The artists, writ large.

The artists, writ large.

With Danger Mouse in a seat, playing the guitar, and Mercer next to him singing (and later, whistling), they played The Angel and the Fool. A beautiful song, and fun in the presentation as well. I saw it, and felt I just had to get out my phone (limping along on its last few percent of power) and snap a photo. I love how it turned out.

I won’t drag on and talk about every song they played – they eventually got in 18 (I think) of their 25 songs from their albums. Pretty good representation! Continue reading

Look Upon My Works, Ye Mighty, and Despair

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We’re trying to bring this blog in for a landing and refuel it. Posting three and four times per day for months on end sets certain expectations. It’s not the sort of thing you want to just stop doing precipitously. I don’t want anyone to get the idea we’re retreating, because we’re not. If we were, I’d just tell you. The Sourcerer crew are people just like everyone else in the blogosphere. Content takes time to produce if you want it to be good. And it takes time to load. Our blogging is subject to work schedules, family obligations, and all the other exigencies of life. I’m sure you’re familiar :-)

It’s clear that our peak blogging season is January-July, and the best use of our energy from August-December is to persuade all you cool people to stick with us, improve the quality of our blogs, and strenghen our social media relationships. Here’s an update on the features I am sure about at this point, because I think the best way to convince you to stick with us is to let you know what we’re up to. Things will become more clear over the next couple of weeks, but I’m posting this today because keeping you informed is one of my jobs.

Doctor Whocapalidi feature

Will’s been writing about Doctor Who here off and on for months. I’ve got two posts from him to run this week, and he’s blogging the new season. Will and I have behind-the-scenes conversations about Doctor Who quite often, so this is not something you want to miss. We’re still working out the schedule. More to come.

Feminist Fridays

Returning soon. We’re working on setting up the next round of these. This is not something we’re willing to take a break from for very long, but Sourcerer is out of the social commentary business (aside from tweeting links) so the updates and coordinating posts will be published either at Part Time Monster or at Just Gene’O in the future. I am not sure which yet, as I haven’t actually discussed that part of it with Diana.

Wednesday Comics

batsignal2Will be back soon, but Jeremy’s taking a break from Batman after a mightily impressive run. We’ll either have a Batman finale or an announcement about Wednesdays in the next week or so. I’m working on filling that slot, and I’m capable of doing it myself if necessary. David and I are discussing this one, but not to worry. The comics aren’t going away.

Listening to Music without Understanding It

Also taking a break, as David indicated in his post last week, but at the moment there are no plans to end it permanently. If you’ve enjoyed that series as much as I have, you should stand up and yell “ENCORE!!”

Blogging and Social Media

I’ll do these on Sundays or Mondays when I have something to share. This feature is dependent upon me learning new tricks and finding interesting connections between networks or in the numbers, so popularity really doesn’t come into it. Unless I have something useful for you, I have no social media post. I may move the social media blogging to Just Gene’O. I’m not sure yet. It’s very much alive, but probably not a weekly thing for the next little while.

Weekend Music

This is a fixture. It’s the first consistent thing I did on this blog. There’s no way I’m stopping it. It’s fun and easy and I know how many of you love it.

Photoblogs

Will also continue here. I’m wondering whether the “Wordless” posts are the best use of my photos. I have a ton of photos, but  not an infinite supply, and it does goldflowerstake time to crop and tag them. I’m just thinking about this at the moment, but whatever I decide, the photoblogging will continue. Even though they don’t typically generate comments you are telling me with your likes and by actually visiting the photo posts that these are the most popular thing I, personally, am doing.

Open Threads

Will continue only when I don’t have anything else to run on Friday. On weeks when I can squeeze in a Follow Friday post or find a nice reblog, I’ll do that instead. I like to have open threads because you never know who might wander by and start up a conversation. I also like to give space to bloggers to come and ask questions about WordPress or give me feedback. But I can’t have very many open threads with zero comments. It makes me look like I’m not good at engagement, and *cough* we all know that isn’t true. I may still do conversation threads on Fridays, but most of them will not be completely open.

Thanks!

Of course there are features here that are not mentioned at all. That’s because I’m not sure where they are at the moment. As soon as I know, you’ll know. Thanks for the reads, comments, likes, stop-bys and conversations on other social media. This blog would not be what it is without your support.

I must say, that's a damn lot of features on that list. :-)

I must say, that’s a damn long list of features :-)

Priorities

We all know I generate way more ideas than I can actualize. But I am really a very down-to-earth guy. I’m a realist at heart, even though I don’t show it in public very often. If I can only do three things between now and January, those three things will be:

  1. Coordinate and promote another round of Feminist Friday discussions,
  2. Blog the new season of Doctor Who Part Time Monster, and
  3. Publish one good post a week at Just Gene’O.

If the price of me doing those three things is posting a “closed for the season” sign here and coming back in January, I’ll do it. But I think that will not happen. I trust the contributors. I expect we’ll be able to keep all the balls in the air. Because that’s what we do here. We juggle.

All the bloggers I interact with are understanding people, and none of them actually expect a post a day from the blogs they follow, so I believe that will be enough. I’m thinking about redesigning this blog later in the year, and I am also looking for a blogging challenge to join in January. I’m planning to blog at the same pace next year as I have this year, only slow it down a couple of weeks earlier. This blog follows the same sort of rhythm as tv series and professional sports ;-)

Blog Traffic and Engagement: Quick and Easy Edition


Today I have a reminder and an idea to float.

The reminder: I’m having a linkup at Just Gene’O, my new-and-improved personal blog. All you have to do to join in is drop an “If We Were Having Coffee” post on my thread over there. I’ll read, comment on, and tweet links to the posts I didn’t get to yesterday starting around 2 p.m. Eastern Time. I’ll also pin them to this board. That’s about 5 hours from now. I’m not going to totally shut down the thread, but once I’m done sharing today, I can’t make any promises about when I’ll read or share the late submissions.

The idea: Facebook. Those of us with fanpages should figure out a way to get together on Facebook some weekend and interact as our fanpages. I’d love to brainstorm about that if anyone’s interested. I don’t have a fully-formed idea yet, but there has to be some way to do it. The number of people who were willing to write coffee posts and share the links with me tells me there must be a way.

That’s all. Happy Sunday!

A Social Saturday Thank You Note

I must say, that's a damn lot of features on that list. :-)

The If We Were Having Coffee linkfest at Just Gene’O is going very well. Before I get started visiting and sharing links over there, I need to give Suzie81 credit for giving me the idea of turning the first coffee post at the new blog into a linkup.

Suzie did an awesome linkup last week. I joined in and then did my own Social Saturday thing in which I went to her thread after it closed and shared everyone who participated with at least one of my social media accounts. A few days later, I caught a conversation on my Twitter feed that Suzie was having with another blogger about the coffee posts, which she also writes.

I decided to roll both things into one and do it this weekend at Just Gene’O. I meant to credit Suzie in one of the announcements or in the coffee post itself, but I’ve had such a crazy week and have been in such a hurry to get this done today, it kept slipping my mind.

Thanks, Suzie, for giving me this fabulous idea! I wish I’d seen your social media meet and greet the day you posted it. You’re right about developing links between your blogs and other social media; I’m doing much the same thing, and at some point I’ll put links all my accounts in a post.