Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Aragon vs. Anderson: The Power of Three

Now that I have a few minutes free, I thought I'd go back to one of my great passions...bashing The Whorist (or as it's generally known, The Nerdist), in particular their Doctor Who reviews by one Kyle Anderson.

Mr. Anderson (now doesn't that sound sinister) in my view, has rarely if ever met a Doctor Who post-Rose story that he hasn't loved.  I don't mean liked.  I mean L-O-V-E-D, to where that particular episode is the Best Doctor Who Episode of All Time...until the next episode when THAT becomes the Best Doctor Who Episode of All Time.  It's gotten to be almost a point of parody to see how Anderson rarely finds fault with a Doctor Who episode.  I don't mean just to nitpick on a few things.  I mean give a bona-fide negative review.  Even I, someone who has been vociferous in my condemnation for many NuWho episodes, do admit when I see a good one (like Flatline or Mummy on the Orient Express).  Anderson, however, will almost always find something to wax rhapsodic about, even on something as atrocious as In the Forest of the Night

I was intrigued by this, so a little research was required.  I went as far back as I could regarding Anderson's Doctor Who reviews, and the earliest one I could find was the Series/Season Six opener, The Impossible Astronaut.  What I've done is taken Kyle Anderson's review verbatim, and offered my own 'translation' to the text to see what Anderson is, in my view, really saying.  I also throw in my own thoughts as to what is being said.

I hope this will be a fun and informative journey into the strange mind of the Functioning Nerd.

I present Part 18 of The Nerdist as Whore: The Power of Three.  My 'translations' are in red.

Somebody needs to remind Chris Chibnall that he’s supposed to write the Doctor Who episodes people don’t really like.

Ooh, ooh, LET ME!  LET ME!

He’s written two of the last four stories and I’ve really enjoyed them both. What is that about?

Well, will you look at that?  Kyle Anderson is back at sucking...up to Doctor Who again.  You get the sense this will be another positive review?  How many do we have so far? 

With both of his Series 7A episodes, “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship” and “The Power of Three,” he’s given us possibly the strongest outings for Amy and Rory we’ve seen since, probably, “The Girl Who Waited” or “The God Complex.”

I know it's too soon to break out The Laugh, but come on: Dinosaurs on a Spaceship as one of the 'strongest outings'?  Comparing something to The God Complex as a compliment?  Who wouldn't laugh at such blanket stupidity?

A while is what I’m saying. With “The Power of Three,” Chibnall’s explored what it’s like to be a companion who doesn’t necessarily want to give up their regular life and the effect that has on both them and the Doctor. He also seems dead set on referencing the Pertwee era as much as possible, which is perfectly fine with me.

Pertwee would 'talk horse'?  Never knew that...

The Ponds have two lives: Doctor Life, and Regular Life.

I thought Amy's parents were dead.  Who are these 'Ponds' he keeps talking about?  Rory's last name isn't Pond, it's...oh, Hell, it doesn't matter. 

They aren’t ready to give either up entirely, and in fact they’re slowly leaning toward just living quiet, day-to-day, normal life.

Which is odd since the Doctor dumped them at the end of The God Complex and they appeared to live out their lives pretty easily from Closing Time down to Asylum of the Daleks (down to celebrating Christmas when the Doctor popped in at the end of The Doctor The Widow and The Wardrobe).  You'd think they would have had some time to adjust to living private lives (they managed to have a generally quiet Christmas one year). 

One day, the cubes showed up.

One day, the rubes showed up.

These cubes are small, black, and seemingly inert.

The rubes are small-brained, multicolored, and at least mentally if not physically inert.

Amy’s voiceover tells us it’s the year of the slow invasion. The Doctor, as you probably noticed, hates slow.

Well, he wasn't too picky during The War Games.  However, given the Eleventh Doctor has the attention span of a five-year-old, I won't belabor the point. 

UNIT arrives, led by scientist Kate Stewart (Jemma Redgrave), and they’ve got nothing to go on either.

But enough about the scripts...

The Doctor tells everyone to pay close attention to the cubes, and no one heeds this instruction more than Rory’s father, Brian Williams (played again by Mark Williams).

Sorry to interrupt, but, what exactly would make you think they'd get another actor to play Brian Pond.  Expecting a Darryl/Darryl Bewitched situation?

For about a year, nothing happens with them.

Reflecting Series Six of NuWho.

Rory and Amy make commitments that require them to be in one place for an extended period of time. The Doctor arrives to take them on a seven-week vacation on their anniversary party, and Brian is concerned.

Seven-week vacation?  What are they: French?

Eventually, the cubes begin to do things and the nature of the plan is revealed. But what does this mean for the Doctor and his two conflicted companions?

Curious that Kyle doesn't touch on the actual plan of the cubes, or how it all ended.  Curious that, innit?

There’s a whole lot to like about this episode, not least of which are the performances of the three leads.

There's a whole lot to hate about this episode, not least of which are the performances of the three leads.

As I said during “Dinosaurs,” it’s terrific to see them working as a team so well, which makes perfect sense if, as Amy says, they’ve been traveling with the Doctor on and off for the better part of a decade.

No, no.  It only feels like they've been there for a decade. 

Part of what I love about the Eleventh Doctor is that his life isn’t linear, the way the Ninth and Tenth Doctor’s were.

Wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey strikes again!  And this is similar to the Pertwee Era exactly how?

Each new series only added one year to the Doctor’s age, in real life...

but here, with the way Smith’s Doctor pops in and out as he likes, we know that he has countless adventures on his own, with the Ponds, or with other people entirely, that we won’t get to see.

And for which we Whovians are eternally thankful for.  Again, why does the Doctor insist on travelling with Amy's parents? Doesn't seem fair to leave little Amelia out of adventures as he travels with The Ponds, since, you know, her last name is Williams, same as her husband's. 

I loved the scene where the Doctor and Amy sit on the wall and discuss the nature of their traveling. You get the real sense of how deeply they care for each other; they are absolutely best friends.

"Amy, you're my best friend".

We’ve always known Amy’s feelings toward the Doctor,

She tried to rape him...on the eve of her wedding to "Mr. Pond".

given how long her life has been intertwined with him, but the Doctor finally reciprocates; hers is the first face this face saw.

Well, it DOES beat his previous reactions to seeing
other Companions for the first time...

A great line and a great sentiment. Amy has been the longest-running consecutive companion of the new series, and Rory’s not far behind.

Makes me wish Scotland DID vote itself out of the Union.

Mark Williams again brings something very interesting to the role of Rory’s dad. He’s certainly not dumb; the way he quickly rattles off possible (though wrong) explanations for what the cubes might be doing proves that he can think critically, but the sort of adorably simple things he does means that he looks at the world a little differently.

He's dumb.

From sitting in the TARDIS for four straight days just because the Doctor said to, to making daily video diaries (“Brian’s Log”) about the nothing happening with the cube, to the strange and hilarious moment when Rory finds him in the hospital, apparently contemplating an IV bag, Brian is a weird and fun character and I’m glad he’s been introduced this series, even if it’s at the end of Amy and Rory’s time.

At least we know where Rory Pond gets it from: his dad, Brian Pond.  Brian's last name IS 'Pond', right, Kyle?

Also worth noting that Brian is the one who insists his son and daughter-in-law go off with the Doctor again.

Even after being told by the Doctor that some Companions have died.  Way to go, Dad! 

If the next episode is as sad as Steven Moffat has promised, then it’s this moment, when he essentially gives them permission to go along, that will prove to be the most tragic.

Expect to cry at the next episode, because crying was the hallmark of the Pertwee Era.  We all just sobbed our eyes out at the end of The Daemons, didn't we? 
It’s very easy to say that this episode harkens back to the kinds of stories from Russell T. Davies’ tenure, having it set on Earth and featuring not only companions’ friends and family but also a worldwide invasion and news snippets.

It's very easy to say that this episode harkens back to the kinds of stories from Russell T Davies' tenure, having it set on Earth and featuring not only Companions' friends and family but also a worldwide invasion and news snippets.  It's very easy to say that...because that's essentially what it is.

I think, though, this has more to do with Chibnall’s inherent love of the early 70s. Chris Chibnall and I share a love for the Third Doctor’s era.


Oh, come on.  YOU love the Third Doctor's era?!  Even YOU can't believe that!

He wrote the Silurian two-parter in Series 5, which was essentially an amalgam of several elements from Pertwee’s first two seasons. With this story, we see a return to modern day (or possibly slightly in the future), and we see the Doctor working again with UNIT, the military investigation branch Pertwee worked with almost his five seasons. We learn that Kate Stewart is the daughter of the late Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart.

We also learn that she won't shut up about it.  We also learn that Kate Stewart constantly whines about not being thought of as "The Brigadier's Daughter" but keeps mentioning that she's "The Brigadier's Daughter" to remind people of her importance.  That might make for an interesting drinking game: take a shot whenever Kate Stewart brings up Daddy Dearest, two whenever she insist no one mention she's Daddy's Wittle Girl. 

It’s stuff like this that I really find fascinating, especially in light of the fast-approaching 50th Anniversary. The show has always been about legacy,

And Moffat has been about destroying said legacy.

and this episode highlights that exceedingly well, alhough the fact that UNIT still remembers the Doctor when even the Daleks do not is a bit strange.

What's this?  Continuity error?  On NuWho?  PERISH THE THOUGHT!

Perhaps it’ll be explained. It doesn’t need to be, though.
Because Kyle Anderson is a hopeless whore and NuWhovians defy logic...literally.  They think Doctor Who shouldn't make sense.  Something about it being British. 

The plot itself was a bit secondary, but that, I think, is the point.

That is the Official Motto of NuWho: The Plot Is Secondary, and That's the Point.

The threat takes a whole year to manifest, something the Doctor is neither accustomed to nor prepared to deal with.

"The threat takes a whole year to manifest".  Is Kyle talking about Steven Moffat's writing and producing?

There’s enough there to keep us interested, and it’s pretty satisfactorily handled.

A bunch of people staring at essentially nothing.  I think I've seen this before...

For the record, this might actually be funnier than The Laugh.  These guys are morons.  At least Kyle Anderson gets paid to push this drivel.  These people have no excuse for their idiocy.  All these twits can do is cry their eyes out at a regeneration (when they should have seen three already if they started at Rose) and think all this makes sense. 

I don’t really understand why the evil twin nurses have geometric faces, but there we have it.

Do we really need to 'understand' something Doctor Who-related?  It IS British, after all, and thus immune from such things as logic.  It also has Steven Moffat as head writer and showrunner, so things like logic and quality are pretty much out the window.

The “villain,” though only a hologram of the other-dimensional Shakri, gained a lot of points by being played by writer/director/actor, and former Bond villain, Steven Berkoff. I love the star supporting cast this series, especially because they’re all cast perfectly.

Never mind the Shakri were irrelevant, or their plan a bit, well, curious.  We got General Orlov from Octopussy!  Now, I liked Octopussy, though I can't say that some of his other work, like Under the Cherry Moon or Strippers vs. Werewolves is up there in quality or that they will lend themselves to a Kennedy Center Honor (although that honor has sunk pretty low in recent years).  At least have the decency to tell us WHICH Bond villain he played. 

Actually, if you think on it, Orlov wasn't the main Bond villain in Octopussy.  That was Kamal Khan, played by the late Louis Jourdan.  Orlov was a secondary Bond villain, hovering between villain and henchman.  I question the declaration of Berkoff being a 'Bond villain'.  He's killed off before we get the big finale.   

Though limited, The Mill’s CG work with the blocks and especially the Shakri ship is gorgeous.

It was pretty, I guess.  I really have no opinion on that, at least nothing that I'll go to bat for.

It really helped bring everything together nicely.

It really helped bring the coda to yet another disaster of an episode which Anderson will hopelessly cheerlead.

The directing duties fell to Douglas Mackinnon, whose only other Who credit is directing the Series 4 Sontaran two-parter, which was also set almost entirely on Earth. His direction here is a lot better than in the earlier episodes and, once again, Michael Pickwoad’s production design adds heaps of atmosphere and believability to anything he touches.

I'm going to find anything to praise because I want Steven Moffat and my boss, Chris Hardwick, to see what a good sycophant I can be.

A couple of things I didn’t like: 1) The narration, especially at the end. It was very hokey and obvious;

Yes, I hate voice-over myself too.  It sometimes works (Double Indemnity, Blade Runner, Sunset Boulevard) but by and large it fails and is an easy way to explain things. 

and, 2) The scene where Amy has to defibrillate the Doctor’s second heart. I liked the idea behind it, but it was very convenient that there was a crash cart mere feet from where they are (which is also mere feet from where the “little girl” was). Chibnall is all about convenience.


In the same scene, I think Smith goes a little too over-the-top with his joyous “Welcome back, Lefty,” jig. There’s a level of silliness I’ve grown to expect and appreciate with Smitty’s performance, but if ever it goes too far, there’s a steep drop-off.

Come now: when hasn't Smitty been silly in his Doctor Who performances?  Oh, right, Matt Smith is reminiscent of Jon Pertwee's take on the Doctor, right?  In fairness, when even Kyle Anderson thinks Matt Smith goes over-the-top, can you imagine what we not blessed with an 'analytical critic's mind' thought?

That’s really it, though. Overall, I absolutely loved this.

SHOCKED that Kyle Anderson liked a
Doctor Who episode!

So far, even given my dislike of the way the story unfolded in last week’s “A Town Called Mercy,” I think this series is the most consistent in quality that we’ve had in quite a while.

Obviously, with such episodes as Asylum of the Daleks, Dinosaurs on a Spaceship, A Town Called Mercy, and The Power of Three, we can see how they are this generation's Spearhead From Space, Doctor Who & The Silurians, The Ambassadors of Death, and Inferno.   

The parallel is exact. 

SHOCKED that Kyle Anderson thinks the newest
Doctor Who season is brilliant!

Even Series 5, which is still my favorite of the new series, had a couple stinkers early on, but Series 7A so far has a 3.5 out of 4.

Series 5, which is his favorite of the new series, has Victory of the Daleks, an episode Anderson himself derides as Victory of the Crap.  And that's his favorite season.  OK, so he said it had a couple of stinkers, but if Anderson really thinks Asylum of the Daleks, Dinosaurs on a Spaceship, and The Power of Three are all 4 out of 4 (with A Town Called Mercy being the 3.5), then Kyle Anderson is not crazy or pathetic.

He's flat-out stupid.

And he said something about his analytical critic's mind?  What do you think of all this, Vinnie?

Any thoughts, Captain Renault?

SHOCKED that Kyle Anderson gave a 
Doctor Who episode a positive review!

I hope next week’s mid-series finale, “The Angels Take Manhattan,” can keep it up. From the looks of the trailer, we’re in for some scary-ass, sad-ass, exciting-ass television. Cannot wait.

From the looks of it, we're in for some kiss-ass, head-up-his-ass, ass-brained reviewing.  Cannot endure.

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