Sunday, September 28, 2014

Doctor Who Is NEW!: The Caretaker


"Who am I?"

It is a question that follows us for all our lives, often times a still small voice in the back corners of our minds, sometimes it's a question that demands our attention. "Who am I?" is a question that we would prefer to remain on the backburner and will do almost anything to avoid. Why? Because we may not like what we see? Perhaps. But it's also a question that in answering it, forces us to make choices, choices we would rather not make. 

For Clara Oswald, the answer to the question of "Who am I?" is particularly troublesome because she's leading two lives: a school teacher involved in a romance with a fellow teacher AND a partner in adventure with a more than slightly daft Time Lord.  Clara has gone to great lengths to keep those lives separate. But what happens when those two lives intersect? Then the question of "Who am I?" becomes even more important because Clara may have to make a choice she would rather not make.

Hi there! Dave-El here and this is Day Two of this weekend's Double Doctor post. Yesterday, I looked back at love and romance involving the Doctor's companions leading up to Clara's relationship with Danny Pink. In a totally unexpected sequeway into today's post, I review last night's episode which puts that relationship front and center when the Doctor decides to spend time at Coal Hill School to fend off an alien threat. And obliviously and totally shake up Clara's world.  

My review of The Caretaker begins after the spoiler warning.  






















YIKES!

Really, I need to come up with a less scary spoiler warning. Seriously. 


The Caretaker 
by Gareth Roberts and Steven Moffat 

The episode opens up with a mad dash through the life of Clara Oswald, moving from an adventure with the Doctor to a date with Danny Pink back to another excursion back with the Doctor back to Danny back to the Doctor back to Danny back to....

You get the idea. 

Thinking she has some time sans Doctor, Clara promises Danny that her focus will be on him. So at a teacher's meeting before the day begins, a new employee is introduced as a fill in caretaker named John Smith. Yep, it's the Doctor, trying to pretend to be a normal guy. The loss of the bow tie has not made the Doctor any more adept at pretending to be human; in fact, he's worse at it than ever.  

But the Doctor is not there to blend in, he's there to stop an alien threat, a robot weapon thing called a "Skovox Blitzer". (I know: coolest name ever, right?)  So the Doctor goes puttering about the school being weird while hiding devices that will help him catch the robot weapon thing. An encounter with Danny Pink does not go well at all; assuming a former soldier would not be smart enough to be a math teacher, the Doctor keeps referring to Danny as a P.E. teacher instead.  In fact, the Doctor still hasn't make the connection that Danny is the man Clara's been seeing. Instead he makes an erroneous assumption (based a lot on his ego) that Clara's beau is a guy named Adrian, a teacher with floppy hair and an affinity for bow ties.  

The trap the Doctor sets for the Skyvox Blitzer doesn't quite work as planned. It's kind of Danny's fault but since Danny's being kept out of the loop by Clara who seems determined to keep her two worlds separate, it's hard to really blame him. The Doctor does anyway and his meet up with Danny in this circumstance is less than easy for Clara who's stuck in the middle.  Danny is, to be sure, not happy with Clara and this turn of events. But neither is the Doctor.

The Doctor: "You haven't explained HIM to ME!"  

Ooh-boy. 

In another encounter with the Doctor in the TARDIS, Danny Pink, a bit more steady on his feet, confronts the Time Lord with a mocking display of military protocol. The Doctor, who has a thing about soldiers (a very negative thing) is definitely off the hook mad at Danny and Clara. 

The Skovox Blitzer returns (earlier than the Doctor expected, go figure) so Clara with the sonic screwdriver runs around as a distraction for the robot machine thing while the Doctor makes 24 hours worth of adjustments on his robot stopping thingamajig in two minutes. The Doctor and Clara are successful...er, almost successful. Skovox Blitzer ain't done yet and the Doctor and Clara are cornered until...

It's Danny Pink to the rescue with a mouth dropping display of astonishing physical dexterity and gives the Doctor one more moment to take out the robot weapon thing once and for all. 

Danny calls the Doctor out on what's eating him: Danny still needs to prove to the Doctor that he's a good enough man for Clara. The Doctor reluctantly concedes helping save the world is a good start. Meanwhile, her secret life revealed to Danny Pink, Clara gets to keep being both the school teacher AND the adventurer.  




















If all of that sounded a bit soap opera-ish to you, well it is. Essentially the Doctor's mission to stop an alien menace is very much the B-story to the main story, Clara Oswald caught between the two sides of her life, teacher and adventurer, lover and fighter.  But it's not only Clara trying to ascertain who she is but who the Doctor and Danny are to her. 

Danny wants his relationship to Clara to work. But it's undermined by a lack of truth. Danny is mostly an affable and awkwardly endearing guy but in The Caretaker as well as Listen from two weeks ago, a lack of honesty is a particularly sore pint for Mr. Pink. It will be interesting see if that informs Danny's back story and whatever developments that are planned for him as the season progresses.  

The Doctor, meanwhile, is in full on "Dad" mode here, approving of one guy as Clara's boyfriend due to a passing resemblance to the Doctor (in his previous form) and angrily disavows Danny due to his prejudice against soldiers. He refuses to see what Clara sees. But I think there is more at work here than the Doctor's adopting a paternal view of Clara. I think the Doctor genuinely feels threatened by Clara's other life because he still scared, scared of who he is, what he will become. He needs Clara to balance him, to keep him in check and he's frightened of what will happen if Clara's life tips in the balance towards teaching and Danny.  

I really don't think this was a particularly strong episode owing mostly to the menace of the week being a bit meh (despite having a name like "Skovox Blitzer" which is what I would name my son if I had one.)  Of course, it wasn't about the menace but the people. Now I like a good "let's focus on people" episode of an action adventure series. But the problem here is that for all the social upheaval, the end sees the status quo re-set. Clara still has a double life; the only difference is Danny knows about it.  

There were some things I want to point out: 

The opening montage was well edited and very effectively underscored the two sides of Clara Oswald's life. 

The Doctor not even trying to not be an alien. Face it, he's rubbish as a human and no amount of living amongst otters is going to help.

River Song gets name checked. 

The Doctor's interactions with student Courtney (AKA, "Disruptive Influence"). If the Doctor is going to need to replace Clara as a companion, Courtney did not pass the audition. ("Spillage" indeed.)  

The Doctor's invisibility watch. Neat gimmick. Wonder why he never used it before? The same reason he'll never use it again: it was important to this episode's plot. (Still, an invisible Doctor means less stunts and running around for Peter Capaldi.)  

Danny's kick-ass move against the Skovox Blitzer with a slow motion front flip over the deadly robot while avoiding getting shot. Doctor, get over this "soldier" thing, OK? Danny's got big time skills, yo! 

And the episode ends with a look in at the "afterlife", the Nethersphere. A couple of twists: 
The newest arrival is a police officer who was killed by the Skovox Blitzer but not in an act of self-sacrifice made because of the Doctor. Maybe this detail is why Missy does not speak to the new arrival, leaving that to her assistant. Yes, Missy has an assistant. 

So that's that for The Caretaker. Perhaps a bit too much like a soap opera but it's hard to criticize something for being something it was designed to be.  And that was the mission here, to put the Doctor and Clara and Danny in the spotlight and sort this out. 

Well, I guess it's sorted. We'll have to see, won't we?

_____________________________________________

Next Saturday AND Sunday sees another Doctor Who Weekend coming 'round. My first post looks at Doctor Who Series 8 at the half-way point. 

That's followed the next day by a review of the latest NEW episode, Kill The Moon.

______________________________________________

Blog business: I will not be posting on Monday, September 29th and Tuesday, September 30th. I will be back to posting on Wednesday, October 1st. 

Until then, be good to one another.

Dave-El 
I'm So Glad My Suffering Amuses You

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Doctor Who Weekend: Love's Labours WON!

Hello and welcome to Doctor Who Weekend. Later tonight the El Family will depart from the Fortress of Ineptitude and head over Geeksboro Coffeehouse & Cinema to join with a 100 or so fellow Whovians to partake of the latest new episode of Doctor Who. My review of The Caretaker will be up on the blog tomorrow.

Today, I follow up on last week's post on the topic of love and Doctor Who, specifically the Doctor's encounters with romance or at least something that kind of sort of looked like romance if you tilt your head at just the proper angle and squint.  Now I'm looking at the companions and their liaisons of love which tended to be end of a fairly positive note. This was mostly because the companion was leaving.  

The first time that happened was at the end of The Dalek Invasion of Earth. The Doctor's granddaughter Susan met and fell in love with David, a member of the resistance against the Daleks. The Doctor comes to the conclusion that following her grandfather as he wanders through time and space is no life for Susan so he leaves her behind. It’s a heartbreaking moment for both even if Susan and David do truly love each other. Carole Ann Ford who played Susan had chosen to leave because she was't given opportunities to expand her character. Since it was the Doctor and not Susan herself who decided her exit, Carole may have had a point.  


"This hand crawling up my shoulder: could THIS be love?"





















Jo Grant's encounter with Professor Clifford Jones has it ups in down. In a parallel to her early days the 3rd Doctor, Jo ruins one of Clifford's experiments, much to his irritation. But over the course of events of The Green Death, both become very much aware of how attracted they are to each other. When Clifford proposes to Jo, Jo doesn't hesitate to say yes.  


"Let me tell you kids just two words: Mutual. Funds."


















The Doctor gives his blessing to Jo but is sad to see his assistant go as he drives off alone into the night. Apparently it was a very strong and productive marriage; when Katy Manning reprised Jo Grant (now Jo Jones) in The Sarah Jane Adventures, we learn that Jo has a whole bunch of kids and grandkids and is still a loveable ditz. 

At least Susan and Jo got some build up to their relationships with these men before being shuffled off.  You might be forgiven for being surprised by Leela’s decision to remain on Gallifrey with her true love, Commander Andred. That’s because over the course of 6 episodes of the serial The Invasion of Time, there is no indication of any romantic attaction between the two. 


Oh, the sweet and powerful passion
of true...tangential awareness!





















The fault lies with Graham Williams who was really, really hoping that Louise Jameson would sign on for another year despite Louise giving the producer every indication that she was opt to move on. So there was no contingency plan for Leela’s exit until a last minute insertion of interaction between Leela and Andred in part 6. For her part, Jameson had hoped Leela would be given a heroic death scene. Instead Leela had to settle for marriage.

Peri Brown got both. At the end of Mindwarp, the 2nd story of the Trial of a Time Lord arc, Peri has lost her hair and her mind with an alien's mind being placed in her body. In the aftermath of that, she gets shot dead by King Ycranos. Don't worry, Peri's not really dead and winds up married to Ycranos and there's nothing creepy about that.  


Peri with her future murderer - slash - husband
(in that order!) 






















Companions in the revived Doctor Who had some interesting pairings for our companions. Some companions were of a mind to pair up with the Doctor himself. Rose Tyler declares her love for the Doctor at the end of Doomsday. During the wrap up of Journey's End, Rose does get to spend the rest of her life with the Doctor. Well, a version of the Doctor. Well, a human version of the Doctor, one with only one heart and the ability to say "I love you" to Rose. So Rose finds true love with a guy who is basically a duplicate of the guy she was in love with. No, not a bit weird.  


Thanks for playing, Rose!
And please accept this lovely parting gift!






















We see Mickey Smith and Martha Jones paired up in one of the closing scenes of The End of Time Part 2 which, shades of Leela and Andred, THAT came out of nowhere, didn't it? 


Smith and Jones, married alien hunters and
probably the least screwed up couple
in this feature.






















But it is kind of cool we have two former companions but from different times travelling with the Doctor finding each other. 

Then we got the companions that broke the "rule" of no sex in the TARDIS, Amy Pond and Rory Williams. After they were married, they continued to travel with the Doctor, providing an interesting twist on the whole Doctor/companion dynamic. 


"I wonder how long they're going to stand there
with the doors open. Are we trying to air condition
the entire universe? OK, one more minute then
I'm putting my foot down!"



















And now we have Clara Oswald and Danny Pink. This is a relationship that some time is being taken to develop, from the meet cute to the very, very awkward first date to that first kiss. 






There does seem to be something happening here; we meet one of Clara and Danny's descendants so something must work out, right? However, remember we're dealing with Steven Moffat here. If he's got us thinking that Clara and Danny have a future because we've seen that future, we can probably expect to be pulled in some maddenly frustrating direction we didn't anticipate.  



So that's a look back at Doctor Who companions...in love! (Awwwww! Cute!) When one travels with the Doctor through time and space, there's no telling what wonders may be found, perhaps even the greatest wonder of all, love. (Enough with the "Aw! Cute!" already!) 
______________________________________________________

Tomorrow is Sunday and with it comes a review of The Caretaker. The Doctor has gone under "deep cover" (he changed his coat!) at Coal Hill School. What dangers await the Doctor and Clara? And will Danny finally tumble on to Clara's double life as a school teacher/space-time adventurer? 




We'll find out tonight and I talk about here tomorrow.


Until then, be good to one another. 

Dave-El
I'm So Glad My Suffering Amuses You

Friday, September 26, 2014

Broken News For Friday, September 26th, 2014

Hi there and welcome to I'm So Glad My Suffering Amuses You, the blog that has one hand its pocket and the other is saluting you with a latte.

Dave-El here and if it's Friday, it's bROkEN nEWs





















It's news satire that is ALL NEW, PARTIALLY FUNNY or your money back.  

So let's get them headlines on the move!

bROkEN nEWs is up in 5...

4...

3...

2...

__________________________________________________________


#BrokenNews "U.S., Allies Unleash Airstrikes On ISIS' Oil Supply"And to deter their access to soft rock, we're targeting ISIS' Air Supply. (Those bastards will never listen to "I'm All Out of Love" again!) 

#BrokenNews "Obama To Create World's Largest Protected Marine Reserve" Oh shit! That's where Obama's gonna hide all the secret Benghazi files, guys!  

#BrokenNews "Tech Executive: Women Are Just 'Like Men, Only Cheaper'" Psst! Boobs! You forgot boobs, dude!


Consumers get their hands on the new Apple Insta-Suck


#BrokenNews "Karzai Takes One Last Swipe At U.S. In Farewell Speech" Apparently all the orgasms were faked.

#BrokenNews "Global Goal: Thousands March for Climate Change" Look, I really don't have any climate change. Will you accept a climate check?

#BrokenNews "Obama Announces Executive Action On Climate Change" I don't think targeting the environment with light jazz is going to make the climate cooler. 




Before that officer can take action against Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX),
he needs to determine if the governor's finger is loaded. 

#BrokenNews "India Has Made It To The Red Planet" To establish the first call center on Mars. 

#BrokenNews "Cop's Tip For Not Getting Raped By A Cop: 'Don't Get Pulled Over'" Also, don't have a vagina.

And my tip for not being a total douche? Don't be that guy.  

#BrokenNews "Cosmo Gives Scott Brown The Cold Shoulder" Cosmo is also scrapping it's new article, "37 Sex Tricks to Drive Your Republican WILD!" 


"I love you!"
"I love you too!"
"I love you more!"
"No, I love YOU more!"

#BrokenNews "Obama To Threatened Activists: America Stands With You" Well, America stands NEAR you. Kind of over to the side. Hey, America is never more than a phone call away. 

#BrokenNews "U2 Working With Apple on New, Secure Music Format" No word on who U2 is working with on a new album that does not suck.  

"Abu Qatada Acquitted On Terrorism Charge"


Now he's free to pursue his lifelong dream:
fronting a ZZ Top tribute band!




Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Comics Blah Blah Comics: Can Superman Have a Better Life?

Hi there!

Dave-El here and welcome to I'm So Glad My Suffering Amuses You, a blog that is a thing on the internet that you're reading right now. 

Below is a panel from a Silver Age Superman story (to which I have amended Superman's thought). 






























Now Superman, hold on just a minute! How can you expect to find a better comic book to star in when this one is so jam packed with goodness in just one amazing panel. 

A tiny flying man is carrying a really large (and pissed off looking) cat...excuse me, a "curious Persian cat". Even bigger than the cat is the large word balloon of exposition our little flying man is balancing over his head. And doesn't it almost look like he's carrying the tail of that word balloon like it's an actual balloon! How cute!  

And then there's Lois, explaining stuff that Superman already knows, right? But Superman's a busy guy; I mean, a really, really busy guy. There's all the Superman stuff he does on his own, with Supergirl, with Batman and the Justice League, stuff he does in Metropolis, all over the Earth, out in space, way in the future. And there's also whatever he does in that "secret identity" of his (but Lois just knows, KNOWS has to be that Clark Kent). With ALL of that going on, maybe Superman can't be expected to remember such little details like: 

  • Kandor was on Krypton
  • Kandor was shrunk by Brainiac.
  • Brainiac is a villain a space villain.
  • There are tiny men who live in Kandor.
  • Kandor is in a bottle. 

So Superman, I hope you realize that you cannot be in a better comic than this, with a tiny flying man, a monster Persian cat and a gal pal who helps you remember the little details of life.  

You all be good to one another out there, you here? 

_____________________________________________________

What is it with me and Thursdays? For the 3rd week in a row, I'm blowing off the Thursday post. Apparently I can only be clever 6 days a week instead of 7. 

I will be back on Friday with an ALL NEW edition of Broken News (which shows I can only be clever 5 days out of 7). Then it's another one-two punch Doctor Who Weekend with Love's Labours Won on Saturday (Companions in love! Awwww!) and a review of this weekend's new Doctor Who episode, The Caretaker, which I will post on Sunday

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Hot Enough For You?

I can't help but wonder about the future and what the people of tomorrow will think of us today. I know what people think of the people of yesterday: just how stupid can you be to think the world is flat and the sun revolves around us? How stupid to think that certain people were inferior due to sex, race or even religion? How stupid to think that maladies and illnesses were caused by demons and not diseases? 

But there was a time when yesterday was the present and with strong assurances of the rightness of their view, people knew the world was flat, the sun went 'round the earth, women were to be subservient, blacks were to be slaves and Jews were to be shunned, that an illness running rampant through a body was the work of Satan or his minions. 

One might argue that the people of the time did not have any other information to work with. But as we developed our thinking about physics and biology as well as social justice, our knowledge grew and we accepted the enlightenment of our new understanding of the world. 

Yeah, let me call bullshit on that. 

People were punished, murdered even in the face of science revealing how the world and the universe worked. People faced danger and death for promoting the idea of human equality long after our collective conscience should have been clear on the subject. People have suffered needlessly because of resistance to medical science. Along the advancing path of human achievement and understanding have been those who despite shrinking numbers wielded undue influence through ignorance and fear. 

And it continues today.  Even in the face of not just overwhelming data and studies that show our climate is changing but in defiance of our own experience, there are those who continue to refute it, to deny it. "It snowed more than ever last winter at my house! How can global warming exist?" "Climate change is a liberal agenda designed to weaken America." "This is a rush to action when all of the science is not in yet." 

Yeah, the bullshit meter is off the scale on this topic. 

And here's the thing: maybe some of these people actually believe the crap their spouting. They may be ignorant but it's genuine ignorance. But the reality is much more troubling. A lot of these pundits spouting off against "the liberal climate change agenda" KNOW their point of view is bull. But they have a base of power to grow, a source of wealth to protect. It is the self interests of petty people that won't mean a damn to anyone long after their bones are dust. Our future is sacrificed at the altar of today's book sales, cable news ratings, speaking fees and political power. 

What needs to happen is to drown these idiots out. Their numbers are small and their views are weak in the face of overwhelming information and a growing sense amongst the people that something about the world we live in is different and not in a good way. 

Sunday was a good step towards that. 



























Rallies held across the world demanding leaders to pay attention and actually do something about climate change. More and more people are starting to realize that the voices of the small minded and weak willed cannot longer carry the day. 

I'm sure Fox News and like minded individuals and organizations will dismiss this as some kind of love fest for tree hugging liberals or what not. But the world doesn't care about my political registration. The world's climate will become more volatile whether I'm a conservative or a liberal. The fate of the world that our children will inherit cannot be a political issue. 

Or else, years in the future as our descendants look over yet another storm ravaged landscape or sun scorched field, they'll will look back to us and wonder why we didn't do what we could to protect them. 

They will wonder why we were so stupid.

Be good to one another. 

Dave-El
I'm So Glad My Suffering Amuses You

Monday, September 22, 2014

This (Non) Sporting Life: A Football Post That's Not About Football


Football fans have been having it a bit rough lately. As the summer became the unbearably slow slog towards the start of a new season, fans across the nation were ready and anxious to answer the clarion call that summons so many Americans to action: 

"ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL?????" 

And the answer echoes from across the mountains and prairies, from sea to shining sea: 

"OH HELL YEAH!!!!!"

So that sent football fans forth from their homes to grocery stores to stock up on beer, Doritos, more beer, various forms of meat and meat-like products and, just be on the safe side, more beer. Then it was back to their homes to get comfortable in front of their flat screen digital TVs with their stockpile of rations to watch FOOTBALL....

...domestic violence reports?

Look, if you're putting together a fantasy football team*, in addition to pass completions, yards run and tackles made, you also have to factor in a player's DVS or Domestic Violence Status. Yeah, Player X has more yards rushing than any other player but what's his DVS? Has Player X been accused of beating his girlfriend, wife or child? Was the player arrested? Is there any actual evidence of this act of violence, say video from a security camera? 

It's always tricky when real life rudely interferes with our escapist fantasies, whether it's sports, movies, TV, music or whatever it is you young people do on the internets.  And there is no more harsh remind of real life than domestic violence. You might be disappointed to hear your favorite singer or TV actor or (checking my notes here) "You Tuber" has been arrested for something like illegal drug use or soliciting for sex. But that is viewed as primarily self-inflicted. 

But domestic violence is doing something harmful, perhaps even deadly, to another person. And not just any other person but a person who has love turned into fear at the back of a striking hand. It is not just an act of violence which is reprehensible enough but an act of betrayal of the worst kind. It's hard to disassociate the public figure from the crime when the crime is hurting another person. If you don't think so, when was the last time Mel Gibson starred in a successful motion picture? And can you watch The Naked Gun movies the same way whenever O. J. Simpson comes on screen? Man, I loved those movies but now....well, fuck you, O.J.!

So football fans, I know all you wanna do is just watch some football. You really don't want to have deal with this domestic violence shit but deal with it we must. Because innocent people are being made victims of unchecked rages and physical pain. And there is no diversion worth so much that we can turn a blind eye to that. 

(Although it appears people may be doing just that. Click here.) 

____________________________________________________________

*I continue to find it fascinating that for football fans, actual football games are not enough. No, some fans engage in fantasy leagues where players are mixed and matched into different configurations. Yet this fantasy is still constrained by real life. If a player gets injured or arrested in the real world, well there go your stats in the fantasy league. 

Me, I would want my fantasy team to incorporate fantasy elements like super powers. Who knows, maybe Tony Romo wouldn't suck so much if he had heat vision.

___________________________________________________________

Sometimes the game itself is just not enough, particularly when the game is a blow out like last last Thursday's match up between the Falcons and the Buccaneers where Atlanta just destroyed Tampa Bay.  

So for a certain young woman in the stands, other distractions were called for. 


The ref totally missed the call on that illegal holding.


And let's leave on that happy note, OK?

Be good to one another.

Dave-El
I'm So Glad My Suffering Amuses You

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Doctor Who Is NEW: Time Heist

As Series 8 of Doctor Who progresses, I have found it fascinating to watch Peter Capaldi's development as the Doctor. As we were promised, this is a darker, edgier Doctor but if any one was concerned that it might mean a loss of humor and wonder, that has not been the case. Capaldi's Doctor is in many ways just as childlike as any of his predecessors, maybe even more so. The Doctor has a petulant frustration with the normal flow of time and with the slowness of minds around him, just a like a child frustrated that his parents don't understand the mythology of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and what's taking so long for the next new episode to get here. The Doctor continues to have a wondrous fascination with questions that still need to be answered and mysteries that still must be solved. 

In this weekend's new episode, Time Heist, we find the Doctor being snarky and clever and moody and intrigued and amazed and...well, there's a lot going on with the Doctor as he finds himself involved in a most unusual situation. 

He's robbing a bank. And not just any bank but the most secure bank in the universe. It is a bank that is impossible to rob and the Doctor, Clara and two new found compatriots have to do just that: rob it. 

How cool is that? 

So let's take a look at the Doctor's latest adventure but first the spoiler warning. 




YIKES! 

Is that spoiler warning actually getting scarier? 

OK, let's get down to business. 



Time Heist
by Steven Thompson and Steven Moffat 

Things begin in Clara Oswald's home as she is rushing out the door to get to her 2nd date with Danny Pink. Of course the Doctor is oblivious to all this; he assumes the heels she's wearing is to help her reach a top shelf or something. Their banter is interrupted by the TARDIS telephone ringing. Clara doesn't want the Doctor to answer it because that will surely lead to trouble. The Doctor dismisses Clara's concerns as foolish. What kind trouble can one get into by just answering the phone?

One quick jump cut later and the Doctor and Clara are in trouble. 

In a dimly lit room, Clara has just been bit by a memory worm and her recent memories are all gone, a fate shared by the Doctor and two others, an augmented human computer hybrid named Psi and a mutant shape shifter named Saibre.  Recordings of their own voices assure themselves that they each agreed to be mind wiped of their own free will. Then we get a message from a mysterious entity known only as...the Architect. All blurry image and distorted voice, the Architect gives this foursome their mission: to rob the bank of Karabraxos, the bank that is impossible to rob. Any slip ups and they will be incinerated. Oh and they better get moving on that because guards are already after them. 

Saibre shape shifts a face to get the team into the bank where we discover what is the most significant peril to face our stalwart adventurers: an alien being know as the Teller. The Teller has psionic powers that, among other things, can turn a person's own thoughts, particularly guilty thoughts, against them. The bank manager, Ms. Delphox, commands the Teller to confirm the guilt of a suspected bank thief. The result is not pretty and only because of the self-inflicted mind wipe, the process does not happen to the Doctor and his gang.  At least not yet. 

The heist team heads deeper into the bank while Ms. Delphox becomes aware that the real thieves are still at large in the bank. So the Doctor, Clara, Saibre and Psi are on the run, trying to stay ahead of security goons and the Teller. But first Saibre then Psi must make valiant sacrifices to keep the Doctor and Clara moving towards the vaults. 

But in the end, Ms. Delphox captures the Doctor and Clara and orders her security team to have the pair executed. Fortunately for the Doctor and Clara, the two security guards on that detail are actually Saibre and Psi in disguise. So its back to the vault where they find the secret hiding at the center of the impregnable vault of the bank of Karabraxos: Director Karabraxos herself, living in luxury and looking very much like Ms. Delphox. 

Or rather its the other way around as its revealed that Ms. Delphrox is the clone of the Director. But things are falling apart quickly as a solar storm is ravaging the Karabraxos bank. The Director makes her escape but not before the Doctor gives her his phone number. Then then Doctor allows himself to be attacked by the Teller whose psionic powers reawakens the Doctor's latent memories and the true nature of the Teller is revealed. The Doctor, Clara, Saibre and Psi escape from the bank. Saibre and Psi as well as the Teller all get their hearts' desires while the Doctor get Clara back to her time in time for her date with Danny.

The end.  

So let's call this "Doctor Who Meets Ocean's Eleven". Like Robot of Sherwood romped around the cinematic toybox of the Robin Hood legend, Time Heists plays with the conventions of a classic heist caper movie. A mysterious mastermind, a complex plot that requires perfect timing, players in the heist with special skills and damaged psyches, unexpected obstacles and plot twists within plot twists. But of course with a Doctor Who spin involving future science and time travel. 

Some random musings 'n' stuff: 

The Doctor continues to be oblivious to Clara's private life. He may not be "Clara's boyfriend" (as he so succinctly reminded us in Deep Breath) but he's still intent on keeping her in his life as much as possible. He line at the end, ""Robbing a bank. Robbing a whole bank. Beat that for a date" seems to suggest a bit of competition from the Doctor with Clara's real life.  

Saibre was totally Rogue from the X-Men. Not a bad thing, mind you, but the whole "I can't touch other people so I'm always alone" thing was just a strong call out that one wonders if one of the Steves is an X-Men fan. 

Psi has his own "with my great powers comes a great price" motif as he has been forced to delete all memories of family and friends in order to protect them. He loved them so much, he had to save them; because he saved them, he no longer remembers loving them.  

The secret of the Teller is in keeping with previous Doctor Who monsters that have proven to not be the monsters we thought them to be. Comparable to the Nimon in The God Complex, for example, the Teller inflicts fates upon people in service to the bank but there is a reason why the bank keeps the Teller in chains. The Teller is not the last of his kind but one of the two last of his kind. Ultimately the Teller only wants to live free on a quiet planet with his mate. 

The issue of the Doctor's self-loathing comes up again. Addressed with the 11th Doctor vs. the Dream Lord in Amy's Choice back in 2010, the mind wiped Doctor realizes that he HATES the Architect and there's only one person he hates that much. Before the Teller restores his memories, the Doctor realizes the Architect...is the Doctor. Yep, the Doctor is manipulating himself as well as others. Of course its in the cause of not a bank heist but a rescue mission, the mission to save the Teller and his mate. But nonetheless, the Doctor does not think well of this manipulative Architect; in turn, he does not think well of himself.

The Doctor channels Malcolm Tucker when the Doctor tells others around him to "shuttity shut up up up!"  

We have ourselves a classic Moffat loop. The phone call the Doctor gets as the start of the episode results from the Doctor giving his phone number to Director Karabraxos near the end of the episode which in turn reveals that the call comes from the future where Karabraxos is many years older and needs to make amends for something. In other words, the Doctor manipulate events in the future to make sure he gets a phone call in the past that will bring him to the present where...

Oh, I'm getting dizzy. 

My only pet peeve with this episode is that for the most defended, most impregnable bank in the universe, the gates over the duct work seem to come loose very easily. And other than Teller's scary psionic skull deflate, all the other security people are just normal guys from central casting. 

But man that is such a small pet peeve in what I found to be a very enjoyable romp for the Doctor and Clara.  Which is good to know because I wasn't sure I would be able to use the word "romp" for a Peter Capaldi Doctor Who episode and yet we've had 2 of the last five episodes being just that, a romp.

But overall, I enjoyed the episode quite a bit. So far, this series as been more or less on a roll. And I can't wait to see what happens next.





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For the next DOCTOR WHO WEEKEND

Saturday: It's Love's Labours WON as we look at romance for the companions in the TARDIS. 

Sunday: Another Doctor Who Is New with my review of The Caretaker.


Until next time, be good to one another.

Dave-El
I'm So Glad My Suffering Amuses You

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