Thursday, September 10, 2015

Aragon vs. Anderson: Hide

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 24 of The Nerdist as Whore: Hide.  My 'translations' are in red.

The last two Doctor Who episodes were a bit conflicting.

The last two Doctor Who episodes were a bit convoluted.

While I enjoyed “The Rings of Akhaten” and “Cold War,” there were huge gaps in logic and massive plot conveniences that kept me from loving them, despite the elements that worked.

While I was paid to promote "The Rings of Akhaten" and "Cold War", even I think they were so dumb, with huge gaps in logic and massive plot contrivances that kept me from being honest about how terrible Doctor Who has gotten.  Still, since I'm record as thinking that an episode not having a plot is not necessarily a bad thing, I'm not about to bite the hand that feeds me. 

As this week’s episode, “Hide,” was written by “Rings” writer Neil Cross, and that he’d actually written this one first, I was cautiously optimistic that a good, old fashioned ghost story episode would be just what we needed. As it turned out, I didn’t need to be that cautious.

As this week's episode, "Hide," was written by "Rings" writer Neil Cross, and that he'd actually written this one first, I was cautiously optimistic that it might be better than what his first (or is it second?) go-round.  As it turned out, I am eternally optimistic...and well-paid by the BBC.

“Hide” was a beautiful episode in every category and gave a very sci-fi reason for a very Gothic phenomenon.

It employed elements of The Haunting, Evil Dead, and the excellent time travel series Sapphire & Steel, and gave us an episode that was poignant and exciting. There really is nothing like the high you get from watching a good story told well.

It ripped off The Haunting, Evil Dead, and Sapphire and Steel, which I confess to never having heard of, and gave us same-old, same-old.   Personally, I thought it ripped off Poltergeist, but maybe Anderson hasn't gotten around to seeing that one. There really is nothing like the high you get from whoring yourself out to Steven Moffat and Chris Hardwick.     

A haunted house in the ‘70s with a psychic girl and a middle-aged scientist with gadgetry trying to prove the existence of ghosts? How many horror movies have there been like that?

Let's see how many times Hide can rip off something from something else, like how The Phantom Menace ripped off the chariot race from Ben-Hur.  Oh, sorry, it was an 'homage'...

It’s a scene which immediately evokes films like The Legend of Hell House and The Stone Tape, which was written by Quatermass creator Nigel Kneale.

I'll take his word for it, since I've never heard of The Legend of Hell House or The Stone Tape.  Do they have a Criterion Collection edition? Therefore, it doesn't immediately evoke anything, except perhaps a tinge of sadness to see how Doctor Who is sinking, and how Anderson shills for a song...

In fact, this story had a lot of Quatermass elements in it as well. We immediately get the relationship between the young psychic Emma (Jessica Raine) and the weathered Professor Alec Palmer (Dougray Scott). There’s a lot to be said for economy when introducing the guest cast, and as so much of the story focuses on them and the way they interact, it’s important to get that out of the way as quickly as possible.

As we don't get a great deal of the guest stars in Hide, might as well introduce them and pretty much forget to develop them much during the episode.

They were both terrific.

Broken clock time...

I loved the back-story of the professor being a spy in WWII and feeling immense guilt for having sent people to their deaths. It explains his resistance to getting close to Emma, or anyone.


Fun fact: Jessica Raine will be playing producer Verity Lambert in the docudrama An Adventure in Space and Time this November. After seeing her in “Hide,” I think she’s an excellent choice.

Fun fact: I'm going to take this opportunity to promote another program which I'll declare a masterpiece sight unseen.

The Doctor is also quite the liar in this story, pretending to be from the Ministry to get involved in the ghost hunting (or “busting,” as Clara called it).

...because he couldn't come up with another way to get involved (which curiously has never stopped him from getting involved in things before, but I digress).  I forget...The Doctor Lies.

I love episodes where the Doctor knows what’s going on but doesn’t tell anyone until the time is right. I also miss those episodes where he just saunters in and people believe him, or at least think he’s not a crazy person.

I love episodes where the Doctor is an idiot.  I also miss those episodes where he actually does something sensible and solves problems logically, not through timey-wimey. 

He seems to know right away about the ghost and figures out pretty quickly that it’s a caught time traveler. This is very in keeping with the spirit of Doctor Who, which is that there’s always a scientific explanation for the supernatural.

How exactly he knows we aren't sure, but that's irrelevant.  My question is, does this spirit of Doctor Who also have us believe that the Doctor would go to a psychic to get answers about Clara?  Seems rather unscientific to me.

And isn’t it just like the show to immediately turn the scary thing into someone who needs help from another scary thing, and then to turn the second scary thing into something else that needs help?

And isn't it just like the show to get repetitive with its tropes?  Seriously, we get yet another "the monster is not really a monster, just a creature who wants a hug" bit.  And while I can't remember, is this monster "the last of his kind"?  

It’s pretty ingenious, and quite effective.

It's pretty pathetic, and quite dull.  Then again, Kyle Anderson probably would think spoiled milk was brilliant if it had Doctor Who stamped on it.

There’s some absolutely great stuff going on between the Doctor and Clara in this one.

“Hide” was the first episode Jenna-Louise Coleman filmed as Clara (after being Oswin and Victorian Clara), and it’s astonishing how well she understood the character at that early stage.

Clara is a boring, one-dimensional character.  What's so hard to understand about that?!

Clara has such a sense of adventure (as in the moment when she tells the Doctor to dare her to go into the dark hallway), but is also very sensitive to things.

Clara has such a sense of adventure...she gets dropped off home at the end of almost every story rather than just travelling on with the Doctor from Adventure A to Adventure B.  She may be the first part-time Companion.

The exchange regarding the Doctor being cavalier about seeing the Earth being born and dying and not flinching is particularly good. I also like how the TARDIS isn’t taking to her very quickly, or at least being more outwardly snide toward her than to the other companions.

Reflecting general Whovian thinking. 

This likely has something to do with her being somehow outside time, or messy within it; Remember how the TARDIS reacted to Captain Jack in “Utopia.”

Little technical thing here: you don't capitalize a word after a semicolon; in fact, the semicolon signals a new sentence despite a lowercase word.  And in answer to your query, no, I don't remember Utopia because I haven't seen it yet.  I boycotted Doctor Who from Fear Her to The End of Time due to just how awful Love & Monsters was.  Little did I know...

With next week’s story being about her lost in the TARDIS, I’d bet some stuff will happen there.

At the risk of sounding like a Whimsical Dandy (the term I’ve made up for someone whose tastes change depending on whatever’s newest… use it with your friends), I think Clara might be my favorite new series companion, bar none.

At the risk of sounding like a sycophant (the term created for someone who goes along with anything his master says), I think he doth protest too much regarding Clara.

Quoth the Anderson, "I adore Jenna-Louise Coleman.  She is the absolutely perfect Companion." (Rings of Akhaten).

Quoth the Anderson, "I don't think I've liked a Companion this immediately in...ever. She's absolutely fantastic." (The Snowmen)

Quoth the Anderson, "Having never seen her was very refreshing and exciting to know she's so great this early." (Asylum of the Daleks).

Somehow, I get the sense Clara was his favorite new series Companion...since the last new series Companion, who happened to be his favorite new series Companion...since the last new series Companion, who happened to be his favorite new series Companion...since the last new series Companion...

The direction, by Jamie Payne, a newcomer to the series, is terrific. He gives “Hide” the required creepiness and knows all about contemporary period drama, having directed episodes of Ashes to Ashes and The Hour. Manor houses are inherently creepy, but Payne is able to up this quite a bit.

Broken clock...if anything, Hide did know the conventions of Gothic horror and used them to full advantage.

The sudden flashes of either the “ghost” or the “boogeyman” are quite effective and very chilling. I’m especially reminded of a shot where the Professor and Emma are standing at the window and there’s a blink of light and we can see for an instant that the “ghost” is standing right behind them. There’s another of a hallway and a sudden glimpse of the weird thing, called in the credits “The Crooked Man,” though I suppose this one was “The Crooked Lady,” which made me say “Whoa! What the fuck was that?” to the nobody in my house.

The alternate universe was also very well realized, it falling apart due to entropy, and the misty forest was sufficiently ominous, doubly so when the creepy whisper-laugh was added.

This episode also had references to old Doctor Who, which made the fanboys-and-girls happy I’m sure.

Guess again, Kyle.

One was the Doctor wondering what became of the hat rack after the TARDIS’ interior changed. He’s always got one, so it must be around there somewhere. The other, more prominent and one that will cause the most controversy, is the need for a blue crystal from Metebelis III. The Third Doctor retrieved a crystal from that planet in “The Green Death” and then had to give it back, the trauma from which ultimately led to his regenerating in “Planet of the Spiders.” Some people I’m sure will complain about him either not having one anymore or needing to go get it again, but probably more people will complain about the way Matt Smith pronounced it.

Seriously, you think fans will get hung-up over pronunciation, but NOT over plot holes, contradictions in Canon, or that repulsive River Song?  THAT won't cause controversy?  The fact that this was thrown in JUST to have a nod to Classic Who and for no other reason somehow escapes you, don't it?

In the ‘70s, Jon Pertwee pronounced it “Meta-BE-lis,” where as Smith pronounced it “Meh-TEH-bel-is.” I’m a huge fan of the series, as we all know,

I’m a huge fan of the series, as we all know,

but I hope this isn’t a stick up everybody’s ass.

No, Anderson, this isn't a stick up everybody's ass.  YOU, on the other hand...

So he said it differently; so what? Tom Baker pronounced the Doctor’s homeworld “Galli-FREE” instead of “Galli-FRAY” and nobody seems to care too much.

Because Classic Who fans cared about plot, story, performances, not on trifles like you keep harping on about.

I adored this episode, easily my favorite of this half-series, and possibly for the whole series, but we’ll have to see about that.

SHOCKED that Kyle Anderson liked a
Doctor Who episode!

It had everything I love about Doctor Who and did something different. Sure, the end went a little soft, but it never got stupid or implausible, which is truly commendable.

If you’ll excuse me, I think I’m going to go watch it again.
"It's an episode I'll definitely watch again." (Cold War).
"So, to sum up: very good episode, would watch again. +++++ (The Bells of Saint John).
"Until then, I'll probably watch The Snowmen a bunch more times." (The Snowmen).
"Probably Chibnall's best.  Not a great episode, but one I won't mind watching again when the DVDs come out." (Dinosaurs on a Spaceship).
“Night Terrors,” on the other hand, is one I probably will watch multiple times. (Night Terrors)

Do I sense a theme?
Next week, “Journey to the Center of the TARDIS” by Stephen Thompson and directed by Mat King. Get excited.

Gee, what the hell is wrong with Kyle Anderson?  How often does he end with how excited he gets over the next Doctor Who?  He gets as excited about that as he does about masturbating to Jenna-Louise Coleman.

"Very excited for it."  His reaction to the upcoming Hide from his Cold War review (and the last line from it).
"I am excite."  His reaction to the upcoming Cold War from his Rings of Akhaten review (and the last line from it).
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." His reaction to the upcoming The Angels Take Manhattan from his The Power of Three review (and the last line from it).

It's getting to where spoofing Kyle Anderson's Doctor Who reviews is getting harder and harder, because Anderson does a good enough job of ridiculing himself without my help.

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