Checking In with Peter Capaldi’s Twelfth Doctor
Last summer, Doctor Who fans were crushed to hear that Eleventh Doctor
and clumsy baby giraffe Matt Smith would be stepping down from the iconic role the following Christmas. Two months later, in a live, worldwide special, Smith’s successor was announced: Peter Capaldi, arguably the first veteran actor to assume the role and a household name in the UK for his many memorable TV characters, including spin doctor Malcolm Tucker on the BBC’s The Thick of It. The feedback was generally positive, with some scattered ageist comments that we’re going to pretend were never uttered, but it would be another year until Capaldi’s real debut, where fans would be able to see him in action.
Now halfway through Series 8, Capaldi appears to have breathed new life into Doctor Who. His version of the enigmatic time-traveler is the most alien in recent memory, and it’s making for some cracking good TV. Here’s a brief look at his tenure so far, broken down by episode.
MAJOR EPISODE SPOILERS AHEAD.
Sherlock’s ‘Last Vow’ For Now
“His Last Vow” was a satisfying end to Sherlock‘s series 3. It contained everything a Sherlock fan could want: mystery, intrigue, reminders of the past, and the revelation of new secrets.
The episode began with John helping a neighbor find her son, who is a drug addict. Of course, he finds her son. What he doesn’t expect is to find Sherlock lying on the floor next to him. Because Sherlock has a long history of drug problems, no one believes him that he did it for a case. Even, the mild-mannered Molly Hooper smacks Sherlock across the face. Sherlock wasn’t looking for a high, at least not off of whatever drug he was using, he was luring Charles Augustus Magnussen onto his trail. Given Sherlock has a flair for the dramatic, it makes sense that Sherlock would pretend to resort to old habits just to get to the “one man he truly hates.”
Magnussen is basically Rupert Murdoch with a huge mansion and a malicious mind palace. Sherlock may like to call himself a sociopath, but Magnussen is one. Magnussen makes a living out of blackmailing people and publishing the results. Not even Sherlock is immune from Magnussen’s power. Granted, Sherlock gets himself into trouble and always manages to make it out okay, but Magnussen did have Sherlock good. He manipulated Sherlock via his pressure point: John. Specifically, Magnussen threatens to disrupt John’s life as he currently knows it. He can reveal Mary Watson’s darkest secrets- secrets she hasn’t told John because she loves him and doesn’t want to scare him.
‘Sherlock’: “The Sign of Three” Review
“The Sign of Three” is not Sherlock‘s strongest episode, but it’s one of my favorites. If it was not for Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, I would not have sat through what amounted to little more than a 90 minute best man speech. While the show will not go down as the best Sherlock episode, it was impressive that the writers pulled it off. It also showed that the lighter tone in the previous episode is here to stay, at least for another episode or two.
Before John’s wedding to Mary Mortsan, Sherlock has to write his best man speech. It’s the hardest thing he’s ever had to do, so who does he call? Detective Lestrade, who just happens to be in the middle of solving the most important crime of his career. Having learned his lesson in the past, Lestrade drops everything and rushes to Baker Street with plenty of backup. He expects Sherlock to need help solving the crime. Nope. Sherlock called the police because he needs help writing funny stories about John. It’s a funny scene that show’s how much Lestrade relies on Sherlock, which is entirely too much.
Sherlock Lives in “The Empty Hearse”
“The Empty Hearse” is the best Sherlock episode, so far. Unlike most Sherlock fans, I am not completely in love with the series. It has it low points and high points. There are two episodes I find completely unwatchable, yet the good episodes are markedly better than most modern television. Also, John Watson is my favorite character, not the eponymous one. That’s probably why I loved this episode: it focused mostly on John.
After a two year hiatus, in both real and fictional time, Sherlock returns alive. We all knew he didn’t die. There was always going to be a series 3. No one’s watched “The Empty Hearse” thinking that Sherlock is dead. We tuned in because we wanted to know how John is doing, which was better than expected. He grieved and moved on. He misses Sherlock, but he is in love with Mary Morstan, who becomes his fiancée.
While John wished Sherlock wasn’t dead, Sherlock came back at the worst possible time. John was getting ready to propose to Mary, but Sherlock thought it was the perfect time to act like a French waiter and refer to a wine as “a face from the past.” He doesn’t mean to be narcissistic, but Sherlock thinks everything’s about him. We know he has trouble with social cues. However, he should be aware of John’s habits, which typically don’t include dressing up in a suit and bringing a woman to a fancy restaurant. The master of deduction either can’t or chooses not to analyze his best friend. Every time John punched him, Sherlock deserved it. I found it hilarious because John’s reaction was completely natural. They love each other like brothers, yet Sherlock found it necessary to hide the truth from John for two years. John was perfectly justified in his reaction, which proves that some things never change. John and Sherlock fight like brothers, may threaten to never speak to each other again, yet they always find themselves solving crimes together.
‘Doctor Who’ 50th: Wibbly-Wobbly, Feelsy-Weelsy
I am writing this post from beyond the grave, because Doctor Who‘s 50th anniversary special killed me dead.
Yeah, I’ll admit it: I was pessimistic during the build-up to this most auspicious occasion. I grumbled for months about the trailer for “The Day of the Doctor” being released late (still grumbling in fact), and despite the staggering celebration line-up announced in October, I felt the classic Doctors were being quietly nudged aside. I quelled my fangirl jitters on the grounds that the special just wouldn’t live up to my expectations.
I’m so happy to have been proven wrong.
“The Day of the Doctor” is one humdinger of an adventure, equal parts playful historical jaunt, sobering backstory, and squee-worthy fanservice. On the outside, it resembles any other madcap episode — the Doctor (Matt Smith) and companion Clara (Jenna Coleman) are enlisted to stop Earth from falling into the slimy, suction-y hands of the Zygons, a villainous race making its first appearance since the classic series. But weaved throughout that predictable A-plot is easily the darkest B-plot the show has tackled since its return: the Doctor’s involvement in the Time War, where he was forced to wipe out his home planet of Gallifrey to end the violence. Loaded with snappy dialogue and peppered with more than a few surprises for the devoted Whovian, this was an anniversary to end all anniversaries.
Have You Tried Turning “The IT Crowd” On?
The IT Crowd, like many other Britcoms, seemed to have ended before its time. The show had four series, which is longer than most fan favorite British television shows. It ended not because it was cancelled, but because the writers decided to end the show. This is nearly unheard of, especially in America.
The IT Crowd was the brainchild of Graham Linehan who also created other popular britcoms Black Books and Father Ted. It centers around the three members of the IT department of Reynholm Industries: Roy Trenneman played by Chris O’Dowd, Maurice Moss played by Richard Ayoade. and the relationship manager Jen Barber is played by Katherine Parkinson. They have to deal with outrageous situations such as their crazy boss’ antics, thwarting a German cannibal, and accidentally getting involved in a bank heist all while helping people with their computer problems.
David Frost Dies at 74
As a twentysomething American, my exposure to Sir David Frost is limited to little more than the Frost/Nixon movie. Since nothing I write will do the man justice, I’ll let BBC News do things properly. You can watch one of the interviews, where they talk about the Watergate scandal, that inspired Frost/Nixon below.
‘Doctor Who’: Where To Start
So, you’ve finally given into your curiosity and want to start watching Doctor Who. Who can blame you? All your nerdtastic friends are doing it. Not to mention, Doctor Who is arguably one of the most successful TV shows of all time and is nearing it’s 50th Anniversary! That’s nothing to turn your nose up at. But with all that success, and all those episodes, it can be quite daunting to figure out where to start. After all, there have been 11 doctors, 7 seasons since the 2005 reboot, and 26 seasons of Classic Doctor Who, which we won’t even touch in this. Overwhelmed yet? Don’t be. Lucky for you, you have options.
Blink (Season 3 Episode 10)
Fan favorite, “Blink,” written by the current show runner, Steven Moffat, is an excellent stand-alone episode if you want to sample the series before committing. It does not spoil any of the plot points for later viewing pleasure. The episode actually features hardly any of the Doctor at all, but manages to give an incredibly accurate depiction of who the Doctor is, how he is viewed by others including his companion, and the tone that the series eventually takes on. This fast pace and suspenseful episode features Carey Mulligan as Sally Sparrow in her whirlwind adventure to defeat the Weeping Angels.
If you end up liking this episode, I recommend then going back to Season 1, Episode 1, “Rose,” and watching all the way through. The earlier episodes are great in all their campy glory, but it is definitely nice to know that the show gets better as time goes on, which makes the bad lighting more forgiving.
Before Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright made Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, they created the cult TV show Spaced. The show revolves around Tim and Daisy, played by Simon Pegg and Jessica Hynes, who have to pretend to be a couple in order to live in a cheap flat. The two must keep up their faux relationship, while dealing with an alcoholic landlady and a bizarre artist neighbor, or else they will be kicked out of their apartment. In reality, the show is how to bridge that awkward period between being a teenager and an adult. It’s difficult to be an adult when you’re living in a pop-culture fantasy world with your friends, Twist and Mike.
What gave Spaced its cult status was its pop culture references. Some are obscure, like the homage to Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy that involves a fear of Mice Spiders. Some are more in your face, like The Shining, which includes creepy twins speaking in unison. There are so many references that you will feel like you are included in their inside jokes. Don’t let this deter you though because the show is still hilarious if you don’t get any of the references. It’s one of those shows that you can watch over and over again and still find a reference that escaped you the first time.
Sherlock Character Blogs
Steven Moffat and Mark Gatniss like to create elaborate universes for their fanbase. This includes having the BBC create websites that exist in the worlds of both Sherlock and the fans. The following list only has official blogs for Sherlock characters. There are no weird fetish Tumblrs or LiveJournal entries about what someone would like to do with Sherlock, John, and a tub of Cool Whip.
The Science of Deduction
Sherlock’s website The Science of Deduction is identical to the one he updates in the show. It comes complete with a request for “interesting cases only please” and case files. Many of the case files direct those interested to John Watson’s blog because, according to Sherlock, people are more interested in what John has to say. Unfortunately, there is no phone number for female fans to call Benedict Cumberbatch asking for him to deduce some things.
The blog of Dr. John H. Watson
Sorry, Sherlock, but you’re right. John’s blog is more compelling. Prior to meeting Sherlock, John had nothing to write about, except for the occasional meeting with his mates. That all changed on January 29 (no year given). Since that fateful meeting, John has been blogging about his adventures with Sherlock. The posts correspond to specific Sherlock episodes, so John hasn’t update his blog in a while, but that should change when the first episode of series 3 airs on October 31 in the UK.