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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

TARDIS Tuesday: "An Unearthly Child" [Review]


THE BASICS
Episode: Doctor Who, Season 01, Episode 001, Story 001 - Part 1 of 4
Title: "An Earthly Child"
Original Air Date: 23 November 1963
Run-time: 23:24

CAST:
Doctor:
First Doctor (William Hartnell)
Companions:
Susan Foreman (Carole Ann Ford)
Ian Chesterton (William Russell)
Barbara Wright (Jacqueline Hill)

REVIEW:
The uninitiated watching "An Unearthly Child" may find it disconcertingly hard to get used to at first. I know that each time I watch these classic episodes of Doctor Who, I still have to take the time to adjust to the stark differences between the fast-paced, big budget production of the revived series and its slower—sometimes cheesy—counterpart. Although both series are very story driven, the original show had to rely more heavily on the art of storytelling. The fact of the matter is that, even for it time, the classic series was ridiculously low-budget. It is a wonder that this Saturday children's educational show ever became the worldwide sci-fi sensation that it is today. This first episode is especially slow-paced and serves mainly as an introduction of the four main characters.

TARDIS Tuesday: Introduction

So how was your Doctor Who 50th Anniversary experience this past Saturday? I hope to it was everything you expected it to be and much more. It was like gasoline to the fire that is my passion for everything Doctor Who. 

Last week, I commemorated the Anniversary by dedicating a post everyday leading up to Saturday's premiere of "The Day of the Doctor." My review for that brilliant episode is forthcoming and I hope to have it out by the Blu-ray release later this year. For now, I DVR'ed the episode and I've been watching it over and over, basking in its awesomeness. I really want to do the episode justice so I am taking my time to gather my thoughts and to get my words right. 


But, with the 50th Anniversary episode behind us, we will be returning to our usual content and if you've been following for a while now, you've witness the evolution said content has taken over the years. Most recently, I've been trying to direct my post towards attractions and things-to-do in Georgia and the Metro Atlanta area. This helped satisfy the first part of my content-refocusing plan I laid out back in January. I'm still working on integrating more Pinterest and life-hack related posts, so stay tuned.

However, just because the 50th Anniversary is officially over, that doesn't mean the celebration has to end. The title of this blog is, after all, Wibbly-wobbly, Timey-wimey Stuff.

At this time, I would like to introduce a new weekly segment I like to call "TARDIS Tuesday"!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Doctor Who: "The Day of the Doctor" Predictions

[Image Source: Radiotimes.com]


I really like Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat. His ingenious writing makes for great television. A lot of his stories are driven by things the Doctor sees in the corner of his eye or brushes against. Even a very attentive audience may miss these subtle details. Moffat is also the devil when it comes to stories about paradoxes and negated timelines.  I would love to one write like him one day.

So, since I apparently didn't learn my lesson from the last time I tried to make predictions about Doctor Who, here are my predictions for what we'll see in today's Doctor Who 50th Anniversary episode. 

Most of these are based off of trailers and the mini episode "The Night of the Doctor."


  1. The episodes will star the Eleventh and Tenth Doctors. It will also feature John Hurt's War Doctor.
  2. The story will be set between the Tenth Doctor episode "Wars of Mars" and "End of Time" in the Tenth Doctor's timeline. Base on the Children in Need teaser preview, this may be the oft reference adventure that led the Doctor marrying Queen Elisabeth I.
  3. This episode is set shortly after the events of the series seven season finale "The Name of the Doctor" in the eleventh Doctor's timeline.
  4. The story will involve the end of the Time War and how the War Doctor ended it. I don't think any of the classic Doctors will actually be in the episode. Although this doesn't mean that there won't be some CG magic like in "The Name of the Doctor."
  5. I think, despite Christopher Eccleston stating he won't be in the episode, we will see the War Doctor regenerate into the ninth Doctor. There is also a good chance the War Doctor will be negated and we will see McGann's eighth in a redux of his regeneration in "The Night of the Doctor" I. Which he becomes Ecclesston's ninth.
  6. We will see Billie Piper as Rose Tyler but this isn't the companion we know and love. Based on the glowing eyes we saw in the trailers and on her outfit, this might be Bad Wolf Rose who we saw in "Parting of the Ways." If we do see a regeneration sequence, I think this will be the precursor to the revived era series premiere episode  "Rose." I would not be surprised if we learn that ninth's meeting with Rose Tyler was not coincidental at all and follows immediately after the events of the 50th anniversary episode.

Well those are my predictions. In an hour or so we will she how close I came. Have fun, my dear Whovians. Happy anniversary!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Doctor Who: "The Night of the Doctor" Mini-Episode [Review]




On November 14, the BBC released a mini episode to the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary episdoe "The Day of the Doctor." The prequel titled “The Night of the Doctor,” starred, much to the surprise of fans and critics, the eighth Doctor played by Paul McGann. McGann's Doctor was last seen in the Doctor Who TV movie, which was released in 1996 as a failed pilot to revive the series in an American setting.

The episode was critically acclaimed and applauded by fans and critics alike. At only seven minutes in length, the mini episode has the potential to be one of the most significant episodes to date both for the show's production history and for the Doctor Who lore.

As the mini episode opens, a ship is crashing onto the planet Karn, its pilot desperately seeking help. "I'm a Doctor," a voice says off screen. The camera pans and there stands the Doctor. "But probably not the one you were expecting," he says. True to his ironic words, this Doctor was not the Doctor we, the audience, expected. This was a great misdirection on the part of the BBC would originally teased the prequel this way:
The 50th Anniversary features Matt Smith, David Tennant and a mysterious incarnation played by John Hurt. Only one appears in the mini episode, The Night Of The Doctor. But which?
Later, unable to prevent the crash, the Doctor is dying from wounds. He encounters the Sisters of Karn, an exiled cult of Time Lords who provides him with a concoction to force a regeneration, the process by which Time Lords are able to stave of death by regenerating their body into a new form. This regeneration would be specific, the Sisters tell him. He can pick the from a selection of forms but whichever he chooses, he must take that form into battle to end the Last Great Time War, a war the Doctor has been able to avoid thus far.

He choose his form and becomes the "War Doctor." A look in the mirror reveals the face of John Hurt which has been digital edited to look younger than he is now. He is "Doctor no more."

In the span of seven minutes, "The Night of the Doctor" not only created the bookends to the eighth Doctor's life that began with the TV movie but also established Hurt's position in the Doctor's timeline. It was no longer a mystery where the War Doctor fit.

In those seven minutes we learned that the eighth Doctor ran away from the Time War, whereas until this point fans only speculated that he actually fought in the War before regenerating into Christopher Eccleston's ninth Doctor. We now know that he was conscripted and that the numbering sequence is actually off (although, since the Doctor refuses to acknowledge him as a Doctor, therefore thanks to semantics, we don't need to adjust our numbering.) It is also implied by the War Doctor's youth after regeneration, that this incarnation would fight the Time War for a long time to come, possibly culminating into "The Day of the Doctor," and could possibly hint at another regeneration sequence.

What really makes these seven minutes so special and so significant is that shortly before regenerating, the eight Doctor invoked and saluted the names of several companions from the Big Finish audio-plays. Up until this point the audio plays, like many of the Doctor's other spin-off media adventures in comics and novels, were considered apocrypha at best, in that although they were licensed by the BBC, the powers that be refused to acknowledge their canonicity. When the movie pilot did not take off, fans soon turned to these source to provide them with the eighth Doctor adventures the craved. But now, in a brief sentence, "The Night of the Doctor," canonized at least the audio-plays that featured these characters.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Doctor Who: Fish Fingers and Custard [Recipe]


One of the most memorable moments in Doctor Who comes from the Fifth Series season premiere in which the newly regenerated eleventh Doctor (played by Matt Smith) gets a young Amelia Pond to rustle him up some grub. Except...nothing seems to taste quite right. That is, until...FISH FINGERS AND CUSTARD!!!


Now, fish fingers and custard has become a Whovian staple. It's as ubiquitous in the fandom as Jelly Babies and "The Angel Have the Phone Box."

In reality, Matt Smith actually ate "coconut thingies in bread crumbs" with his custard [1] during production. But this hasn't deterred many a fanboy (and fangirl) from trying it with actual fish fingers.

So, I decide to join the ranks of ├╝ber-dorks and have fish fingers and custard for the first time for dinner tonight.

Since it's almost impossible to find British-style custard in American grocery stores and since custard and vanilla pudding are actually two different things, I decide to make the custard from scratch. (Pudding is a lot thicker and sweeter than custard and the best description of custard's consistency I've found is that it is "drinkable.")

I got my recipe for the custard from my copy of Dining With The Doctor: The Unauthorized Whovian Cookbook by Chris-Rachael Oseland [2][3]. The recipe itself is pretty standard and matches almost exactly to those I've found on Pinterest and elsewhere on the internet. I've included the ingredients list and a step-by-step instructions toward the end of this post.

Now, if you aren't brave enough to actually dip real fish fingers in your custard, you can follow the show's lead and make faux fish fingers. Dining With The Doctor actually has several recipes for making these out of french toasts, cornbread, cake, etc. I recommend picking up your own copy. There is also a Kindle Edition. You can also find recipes for these mock fish fingers on the internet and Pinterest.

For my part, I decided to try the real thing. I had a bag of Costco Brand (Kirkland's) fish sticks in the freezer, so I threw a bunch in the oven while I made the custard.

So, how did I like them?


It was good! Well, it wasn't disgusting, anyways. It tasted like a milder-flavored vanilla pudding. I was actually surprised how runny the consistency of the custard end up being. It definitely was "drinkable." Granted that could have more to do with my cooking than the recipe. The recipe called for milk, without distinguishing what type. I used skim milk, so perhaps using whole milk might have made it thicker. Also the recipe called for double cream which is not sold in the America, as far as I know. Double cream has about a 48% fat content. I used heavy cream which is about 35% fat content [4]. Also you could probably adjust the amount of cornstarch if you're feeling adventurous or find a recipe to make your own double cream.


BRITISH_STYLE CUSTRD RECIPE

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

IDW's Doctor Who: Prisoners of Time Gives Whovians Their Fantasy Team-up [Review]

Every true Whovian dreams to one day watch a Doctor Who episode in which all the actors who played the various incarnations of the titular characters reprise their roles for that one epic team-up adventure. However, for various reasons, that most likely will never happen. Not for the foreseeable future, anyways. The 50th Anniversary episode "The Day of the Doctor," which will air this Saturday, is the series' most promising and, possibly, last opportunity to do so—at least for a while. Unfortunately, show-runner Steven Moffat indicated in interviews that the fandom will just have to settle for the tenth and eleventh Doctors played by David Tennant and Matt Smith, respectively. Doctors Ten and Eleven will team up with the recently revealed "War Doctor," a previously unknown incarnation played by John Hurt. Three Doctors are enough, I suppose.

Then, again: Moffat's penchant for lying and misdirection to protect the magic of the show from leaks and spoilers until their scheduled air times might also indicate that this door is not competely closed. I submit as evidence,  the series seven season finale, "The Name of The Doctor," which used clever camera angles and computer-generated movie magic to splice old Doctor Who footage into the episode to bring all the previous Doctors back, even the late William Hartnell (1st Doctor), Patrick Troughton (2nd), and Jon Pertwee (3rd).

Prisoner of Time's
12 Covers Merged
[Image Source:
comicsblend.com]
I suppose until then, we Whovians will just have to settle for spin-off media like novels, audio-plays, and graphic novels as stop-gaps. In which case: may I recommend IDW Publishing's Doctor Who: Prisoners of Time graphic novel mini-series?

IDW, one of todays leading comic book publishers, specializes in licensed property. They also hold the license for popular titles like Star Trek, Transformers, and G.I.Joe. Unfortunately, their relationship with the BBC and their license to publish Doctor Who will end with the 50th Anniversary of the show. Fortunately, they refuse to leave without a big bang.

Prisoners of Time, a 12-issue limited series comic book, is IDW's year-long contribution to the 50th Anniversary. From January through November 2013, each issue of the first 11 were dedicated to one of the eleven Doctors and followed each of the Doctors in sequence on an adventure. As each issue closed, a shadowy figure kidnapped that Doctor's traveling companion(s), linking each story together and leading into today's release of issue 12 in which the Doctor team-up with all himselves to save his friends.

Written by siblings Scott and David Tipton, the story asks the reader to examine the Batman-ification of the Doctor and the effects, both good and bad, that he leaves in his wake. We see this same question in the current TV series in such episodes as "Vampires in Venice" and "A Good Man Goes to War." Yet, by end of issue 12, we are still left with that strange feeling that, just as in life, everything remains gray and blurry despite all the arguments for the Doctor's goodness, despite the fact that those arguments won.

IDW has given fans well-written, canon-worthy between-the-episodes adventures for a while now. In fact, they have gone out of their way to carefully integrate on-screen story elements to each of their stories as well as to avoid contradicting Doctor Who Proper. Prisoners of Time is no exception. I love how they blended elements from both the show's classic run and the revived modern series. IDW went a step further and included Frobisher, the Sixth's and Seventh's shapeshifting companion from Panini Comics' Doctor Who Magazine comic strip adventures from the Eighties. (Frobisher likes to use the form of a talking penguin as his "normal" appearance, by the way. What's cooler than that?)

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Doctor Who: A Bigger Time-suck Than a Black Hole

In yesterday's Doctor Who post, I presented you with a watered-down synopsis of the television show's history. I also provided you with a must-watch list of the revived series episodes that I think will give you a richer understanding of the show, not to mention, get you caught up for the Saturday premiere of the 50th Anniversary special, "The Day of the Doctor.".

Today, I want to direct you towards some fun and often quirky Doctor Who related things you can find on the World Wide Web. If you're already a Doctor Who Fan—I mean a PROPER Whovian—you probably already know about all of these. AND THEN SOME! But for the uninitiated, I present to you a list of some of my favorite places to get my Who on!




WHERE TO GET YOU WHO ON

Pinterest - 

Well, sure, you can get on Google or Bing but unless you know what you're looking for you're more likely to end up on a Wikipedia entry or yet another news article about the 50th Anniversary Special. Instead, I recommend heading over to Pinterest where a search for "Doctor Who" can turn up some interesting finds. This is especially true as you explore the plethora of boards created by Doctor Who fans. Here, you'll find links to fan art, parodies and memes, official BBC promotional materials, and cosplay photos—most of which you probably will not get unless you are a die-hard fan.

Here is my "Doctor Who" Pinterest Board. I'm still working on building it up.

Fair warning: Pinterest is addictive on its own. Be prepared. This can become a bigger time suck than a black hole.


YouTube - 

YouTube has a lot of cool videos, everything from fan-made parodies, vlogs, and episode reviews to official trailers and mini-episodes from the both the Doctor Who and the BBC's official YouTube pages. Here are some of my favorite.

Alisa Stern has a cute YouTube tribute series called Doctor Puppet. Basically, Doctor Who marionette style. The series has been featured on the Nerdist. In fact the Nerdist has some awesome YouTube videos embedded on their page.



Monday, November 18, 2013

Doctor Who: A 50th Anniversary Primer

Happy Monday, All! 

Today begins my week long countdown to the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Special "The Day of the Doctor" which will premier this Saturday, November 23, 2013 on the BBC and BBC America. To celebrate this milestone, I will be dedicating a daily post every day this week leading up to the premier of the special. Hey! That's what you get with a blog which gets its title from a line in the show.

[Image Source: Radiotimes.com]

Today's post is a bit of a primer for those who have no clue what Doctor Who is all about. 


History

The Versions of the TARDIS
[Image Source: TheDoctorWhoSite]
Premiering on November 23, 1963, Doctor Who started out as a British children's Saturday educational show in which a cranky old man called The Doctor, his granddaughter, and her two teachers travel through time and space learning about history and science in a ship called a TARDIS (Time and Relative Dimensions In Space), which, as a running joke has the ability to change its appearance but is permanently stuck as a 1960's blue police call box. (An Adventure in Space and Time, a dramatized account of the show's inception will on November 21, 2103.)

Versions of the Doctor
[Image Source: Wikipedia.com]
Not long after, it would be revealed that the Doctor is a member of an alien race called the Time Lords and had the ability to regenerate his body (which had the side effect of creating the same man with a new face and a new personality) as a way to cheat death. This device would allowed the show to continue with a new lead actor and came in handy as William Hartnell, the first actor to portray the titular lead, left the show due to his failing health. To date eleven actors have played the coveted role with a 12th—Peter Capaldi—set to take up mantel beginning with the 2103 Christmas Special [1][2]. 

The show's original run aired for 26 season until December 1989 and quickly became a cult classic, especially in the United State when the show began to air on PBS. In that time, the show would go through seven Doctors and inspire writers for other, more famous shows like Star Trek as well as geeks and scientist alike. There was just something about a low budget show about an alien who travelled with a rotating cast of companions saving the universe from evil. 

The show would get a TV movie and a new Doctor in 1996.  Produced as a partnership between the BBC and Fox, it would serve as a failed pilot to revive the show in an American setting. The show would then continue on in spin-off media like audio-plays, comic books, and novels creating a sort of apocrypha which helped fill the void in many-a-nerds' double hearts.

Then in 2005, the BBC would revive the series. The show got a bigger budget and sleeker storytelling. Since then three new Doctors have helped user the show (both classic run and revived series) into a new era with a whole new generation of fans. It is now a world-wide phenomenon with spin-offs, merchandising, and one of the nerdiest, most obsessed followings around.


The 50th Anniversary Episode

The 50th Anniversary episode titled "The Day of The Doctor" will air this Saturday and will star eleventh Doctor, Matt Smith and his companion Clara Oswald played by Jenna-Louise Coleman. The episode will also feature the return of tenth Doctor David Tennent and companion Rose Tyler played by Billie Piper. The sorry will revolve around the events of the Last Great Time War. A previously unknown incarnation of the Doctor (played by John Hurt) which was revealed in last minutes of the Series Seven season finale will play a large role.

Playing Catch-up

Want to catch-up on all the fun but don't have the time to watch all 33 seasons, 239 serials, 798 episodes? (You can't, by the way, even if you wanted to do so. Due to the BBC's "junking policy" in the 60s and 70s, there are 97 missing episodes.) Netflix has seasons one through six available while season seven is now out on DVD and Bluray. BBC America will also air most of these episodes leading up to the Saturday's Premier. Set your DVRs!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Braves Move North. Will Traffic Nightmare Follow?

On Monday morning November 11th 2013, Atlantans were greeted by the news that the Braves, Atlanta's iconic baseball team, will leave Turner Field when their lease ends in 2016 and will move into a new stadium in Cobb County in time for the 2017 season. The announcement left many questions in its wake and social media and news outlets quickly became a cornucopia of commentary ranging from jubilant acceptance to vitriolic criticism.

But as the day and week wore on, and as the shock that followed Braves President John Schuerholz's press conference wore off, it became evident that the club's decision will have a much broader impact on the city which goes beyond the zip code the team will call home.

To their credit, the Braves PR team launched a new website, www.homeofthebraves.com, to provide a central place where fans and interested parties can go to get the organizations stance on the matter. The website is comprehensive and does an excellent job answering why they think moving is a great idea. As Max Blau of Creative Loafing puts it, the website "sums [the Braves’] rationale up in one paragraph:"

The reason for moving is simple. The current location has certain issues that are insurmountable and will only become more problematic over the years. These fundamental issues involve how you, our fans, access Turner Field. There is a lack of consistent mass transportation, a lack of sufficient parking and a lack of direct access to interstates. Furthermore, the Braves do not have control over the development of our immediate surroundings[1][2].

Therefore the answer to the Brave's predicament, the website argues, is to move closer to the geographic center of the team's fan base. Their evidence: a map showing ticket sales for the 2102 season that paints Atlanta’s north suburbs in a sea of red, clearly delineating the heart of Braves Country.

Last Season's Ticket Sales
[Image Source: HomeOfTheBraves.com]

Shortly thereafter, politicians and special interests began quibbling over key concerns. Is the move truly a “done deal?” Can Braves be enticed to stay Downtown? Are the Braves and the city betraying a promise of revitalization made to the folks living in the neighborhoods around Turner Field, a promise that has yet to materialize? How much will Cobb taxpayers be on the hook with this move? But, one common concern seems to haunt the minds of Atlantans regardless of the positions they take. Traffic.

It is no secret that traffic on the Northside Perimeter is a nightmare on a good day, especially near where Interstates 75 and 285 meet, the very same area where the proposed stadium is to be built. So, what happens to everyone’s commute when you build at its crux a 60-acre mixed-used development with a 42,000-seat stadium as it’s main attraction?


Proposed Site Layout
[Image Source: HomeOfTheBraves.com]