Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Aragon vs. Anderson: The Bells of Saint John

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 21 of The Nerdist as Whore: The Bells of Saint John.  My 'translations' are in red.


Hooray! It’s back!
Oh, God!  It's back!
Doctor Who has returned to our various screen-types and has delivered an episode that looks so phenomenal it almost doesn’t look like it belongs on Doctor Who.
Doctor Who has returned to our various screen-types and has delivered an episode that looks so appalling it shouldn't bear the name of Doctor Who.
“The Bells of Saint John” introduced Clara Oswald Proper (Jenna-Louise Coleman) in a story that was supremely modern in both its storytelling and presentation.
"The Bells of Saint John" introduced another cookie-cutter Companion (a feisty 21st Century pretty London-centric girl, making this the fourth London-centric company and fourth pretty girl, Karen Gillan's Scottish lass being the exception in the former, Catherine Tate the exception in the latter).  She was introduced in a story that was supremely modern in that it was rushed, idiotic, and appealing to those who haven't got a brain cell to their name. 
It also features some of the best Doctor-companion repartee in quite a long time. The Ponds were fun,

Someone refresh my memory.  In what episode did we meet Amy's parents?  Is it even worth bothering to point out that Amy and Rory were never "the Ponds"?  Granted, Rory was such a wimp he could have changed his last name to hers, but since that never happened, who are these "Ponds" Anderson & Company keep babbling on about?

but Clara’s ability to banter is unmatched. Let’s dive right in!

but Clara's ability to talk fast is unmatched.  Let's get through another Doctor Who horror!

Steven Moffat is known for making the everyday threatening.

Steven Moffat is know for destroying Doctor Who in his efforts to remake it in his image.

This time, he’s done it with something that surrounds everybody all the time, whether they like it or not: Wi-Fi. It’s everywhere and we can do nothing about it, so what if it was hostile?

Skynet would like a word with you.

What if it had control of us all?

Internet controlling people?  What rubbish!

What if it had these weird camouflaged servers with empty, hollow heads? Creepy-ass, right?

Weird camouflaged servers with empty, hollow heads?  You must be so proud, Kyle.  Steven Moffat finally wrote a story about you.  Kiss-ass, right?

As far as a villain goes, the Spoonheads and the corporate people who control them are fairly pedestrian, but the threat is very compelling.

As far as villains go, The Spoonheads were too dumb even for me, but I have to find something positive to say in another of my fluff pieces. 

And when, at the end of the episode, we find out they’re being controlled by the Richard E. Great Intelligence, it gives me a great deal of hope that he (and it) are going to play a much larger role in this season’s activities.

"Richard E. Great Intelligence"?  Looks like someone is in need of a 'Grant'.  I've got a message for you Kyle: don't get your hopes up.

Hooray for references to 1960s, and specifically Patrick Troughton, stories.

Which most NuWhovians have never seen or care about.

There’s probably going to be a lot of that this year.


The direction of this episode is nothing short of gorgeous.

Why do I get the sense Anderson confuses 'directing' with 'cinematography'?

This is Colm McCarthy’s first foray into the world of Doctor Who, and he’s not slated to direct any more this year.

This is Colm McCarthy's first foray into the world of Doctor Who, and he's not slated to be burdened by the horror the show's devolved into any more this year.

However, he’s directed episodes of very London-centric shows like MI-5 and Hunter, so he’s one of the best people for directing an episode that so perfectly utilizes the city’s sites and geography.

I LOVED Hunter growing up.  Oh, what, that's not the Hunter he's referring to?  Oh, well then, screw that!

I just went to London last autumn and saw all of the locations shown. It’s exactly like that.

I just went to London last autumn...and you didn't.  I have more money than you do.  I get paid to lick Steven Moffat's boots and Mark Gatiss' ass.  Ain't my life grand?  Sucks to be you, suckers!

And for the record, I, Rick Aragon, HAVE been to London, so stuff it, Anderson.

The throwaway joke about Earl’s Court, when the baddies are looking for the TARDIS, was quite funny. (There’s a real police box outside the tube station there… I took a picture by it.)

Did I mention I get paid to travel and promote crap like The Bells of Saint John?  All you guys can do is look at pictures.

Moffat’s other show, Sherlock, uses London exceedingly well, and I never imagined Doctor Who would feel so… REAL.

I really want Wholock, that long-dreamt crossover between Doctor Who and Sherlock, which would TOTALLY make sense and is as logical as an anti-gravity motorbike riding up on the outside of a building.  I yearn for the day the TARDIS lands in front of 221 B Baker Street because I'm pretty dippy.  After all, you can't imagine the TARDIS landing in front of the brownstone on CBS' Elementary.  That would be so illogical, if not downright stupid. Wholock on the other that's ICONIC television.  Oh, and if we can get the Winchester Brothers to pop up, oh....SUPERWHOLOCK!  I'm so geeking out!!!
This gives me hope for what an eventual feature film COULD look like.

If The Bells of Saint John is what a Doctor Who movie would look like, I should go and apologize to the ghost of Peter Cushing, because Doctor Who and the Daleks now looks like Forbidden Planet compared to this.

The real story here is the relationship between Clara and the Doctor. Coleman and Smith have chemistry to spare.

I've never been so sexually aroused by anyone as I am by Jenna-Louise Coleman.  Jenna-Louise Anderson.  Has a nice ring to it, doesn't it?

It was more volatile in “The Snowmen,” but here it’s no less engaging or fun to watch. Seeing the Doctor really care about looking out for Clara and attempting to save her (finally) is wonderful.

It's nice to see that the Companion doesn't die for a change, so maybe third time really is the charm.

Smith never fails to surprise me with how he plays the Eleventh Doctor.

Smith never fails to appall me with how he plays the Eleventh Doctor.

It’s maybe the most varied and nuanced of all the Doctors ever.

He goes from silly to serious so effortlessly.

I love that Clara doesn’t fall for the Doctor’s usual lines and isn’t afraid to call him on his BS. In a series populated by tough chicks, it’s nice to see one who actually IS tough and not just made to look that way.

In a series populated by hot chicks (and Catherine Tate), it's nice to see one who actually is so hot that she doesn't have to be made to look that way.  God, Coleman's so smoking-hot...

The mystery behind Clara is nowhere near close to being resolved, which I love.

The mystery behind Clara is nowhere near close to being interesting, but I love the fact we're going to get yet ANOTHER Companion-centered story arc.  We just got past The Girl Who Waited, we endured The Death and Transfiguration of River Song aka Moldy Pond, and now we're getting The Impossible Girl.  Another mystery involving a Companion.  I LOVE these endless repetitive plotlines.  I just love kissing Steven Moffat's ass.  Hell, I don't just love it, I LIVE it!

We hear, possibly, the origin of the name “Oswin” and we see her do things that each of her previous “versions” have done (look after children and be very good at computers).

Oh, will we get a mention of the "Oswin" bit again?  Don't remember if we will, or will it kind of fall by the wayside as time goes by. 

I was initially concerned about having another companion who is mysterious and with a complicated past, but it’s different enough, and the character is certainly different enough, that it’s not a distraction nor does it feel like a retread.

I thought we were going to get a repetition of what we've gotten before, but I really don't care so long as Jenna-Louise Coleman is in it.  So what if it's a retread? 

Clara is the only companion thus far in the new series with a completely clean slate, seemingly no relations, and definitely nothing going on for her beyond wanting to travel. I’m really looking forward to where she goes this year.

Clara is the only companion thus far in the new series who isn't saddled with a family that we have to get involved with and have to revisit every other episode (unlike Rose, Martha, Donna, Amy).  I'm hoping it stays that way.  However, by the end of her run I'm sure we'll get a particularly embarrassing episode where we DO get into her family and its past. 

The more I think about this episode, the less I feel I have to say,

The more I think about this episode, the less I like it or can defend it so I won't say anything about it.

but the more I think I enjoyed watching it.

I'm easily pleased...or paid off.

It’s not got a very complicated plot,

There's no plot, but I am on record saying that a story not necessarily having a plot is a bad thing.  Besides, if I gave an actual plot summary (which note that I didn't) you'd laugh your head off at the idiocy of it all.

it’s not a huge mystery, it doesn’t have very engaging villains or monsters, but it does have a huge amount of character and it’s never boring or dumb.
The mystery of The Bells of Saint John is silly, the villains and monsters are embarrassing, and it really has nothing to recommend it.  You can't imagine how hard I worked to make this garbage palatable.  By my own admission the plot's weak, the mystery small, has no engaging villains or monsters.  It does have Jenna-Louise Coleman, who is the star of my sexual fantasies. 

As for this being 'never boring or dumb', The Doctor rode UP on the OUTSIDE of a building on a MOTORBIKE!  Seriously dude, you don't think that was dumb at ALL?!?  The villains were called The Spoonheads.  Seriously dude, you don't think that was dumb at ALL?!?  The inside jokes about skipping to "Chapter 11" which will make you cry wasn't dumb?
It’s just a really good episode, a decent story with exceptional dialogue, direction, and performances.

It's just a really horrendous episode, a dreadful story with idiotic dialogue, passable direction, and hit-and-miss performances.

There’s a reference to Amy (the book the son is reading is written by Amelia Williams),

Whoever this "Amelia Williams" is...

a small reference to UNIT, which you know I love, and there’s a small setup for what will probably be the main baddie for the rest of the series.

I like UNIT, even if it plays virtually no part in NuWho (apart from Kate "I'm Not Just the Brigadier's Daughter But Don't Forget I'm the Brigadier's Daughter" Stewart), and we're getting a thread that the Great Intelligence will be popping up throughout the series/season, like Madame Kovarian, like Bad Wolf, like the crack in time.  We got this year's running thread...but again, does the Great Intelligence really play a large part this season?  Can't remember.

One thing that may (and I’m sure will) come back into play is this mysterious woman from the shop who gave Clara the Doctor’s number that rang the eponymous “Bells of Saint John.” Might be River, might be Amy, might be Clara herself from the future, might be someone totally different; it’ll be interesting to see who.

Well, in a way, it is...and isn't...a woman, if you can believe that.  I can bet you it's someone you wouldn't think was possible this season, but we'll have to wait till next season to come up with a twist so out-of-control I'm sure you'll wet yourself and call 'genius', logic be damned.

So, to sum up: very good episode, would watch again, +++++.

SHOCKED that Kyle Anderson liked a
Doctor Who episode!
Sorry to interrupt Kyle, but tell me, what was this episode about? 

Next week, we have “The Rings of Akhaten,” written by Neil Cross and directed by Farren Blackburn, both of Luther fame. Looks pretty weird and definitely very alien, which was rather lacking in Series 7a. Until then!

OMG...we're going to get a Doctor Who episode that actually takes place somewhere other than Earth?!  I think this will be the first time since I don't know...maybe sometime when the show was in black-and-white.  You know, one of those 'lost episodes' or whatever.

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