Anyone who reads this blog is well aware of my affection for Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera. Well, what’s not to love; it’s got good music, and it’s based on one of my favorite books. It is one of the world’s longest-running and most popular musicals (alongside Les Miserables), but did you know there are two other musical adaptations as well? I was surprised to learn this; there’s hardly any information on them…unless you do a little bit of digging first.
The first musical Phantom adaptation came to the stage in 1976 courtesy of Ken Hill. In fact, Webber considered collaborating with Hill when he got the idea to adapt Gaston Leroux’s novel into a musical, but he ultimately decided to pursue his project separately. Ken Hill’s version is more of an actual opera in nature; he wrote original lyrics to music composed by the likes of Verdi and Mozart. Some of the song titles are on the long side (“To Pain My Heart Selfishly Dooms Me”, “Somewhere above the Sun Shines Bright”), but on the plus side, it includes that oft-neglected character, the Persian!
1991 saw the debut of Phantom by Maury Yeston and Arthur Kopit. They had originally planned to make it back in the 80’s but scrapped their plans when they learned that Webber had already done so with phenomenal success. Later, however, Kopit saw the Webber version, realized how different it was from the storyline he and Yeston had in mind, and suggested to Yeston that they try again. Their version of Phantom began life as a non-musical miniseries produced for NBC before it finally made it to the stage in all its song-filled glory. It differs from the novel in that the Phantom is somewhat gentler and has a solid friendship with the opera’s manager Gerard Carriere.
This was a curious little episode of Doctor Who–curious in a good way. We had an unusual villain that turned out not to be a villain after all, another appearance by the enigmatic Missy, and this:
But that doesn’t happen till next week.
Still, though, the idea of having a forest spring up overnight was really clever, and I’m actually kind of surprised no one has thought of it before. And it’s kind of funny to see how Twelve is not quite as good with children as his predecessor was. What’s interesting, though, is the emphasis they have put on the Doctor interacting with children this season. I don’t know if it’s to emphasize his alien nature or if they’re trying to show us something else.
And was it just me, or am I the only one who’s wondering if that was really Mave’s sister who came back at the end of the episode, or if she created a facsimile of Annabelle the way she brought the forest into being.
Today I happened to find an article (can’t find it now, or I’d post it) reporting that a Phantom of the Opera-themed TV show is in the works. I was skeptical, of course, but my curiosity was piqued to learn that it is going to be based off Gaston Leroux’s original novel. Cue cheering. Then I saw the line saying it is going to be set in the modern-day music industry.
…what? If it’s set in the modern-day music industry, how can it be based on the book!? You can’t have it both ways, people! Suffice it to say that what faith I had in this venture has plummeted into the cellars of the Opera House. This cannot end well.
Update: I found the link: http://www.broadway.com/buzz/178062/stranger-than-we-dreamt-it-phantom-gets-small-screen-treatment-with-help-from-first-date-team/
Before we begin, let us take a moment to mourn the fact that season 8 is almost over. Next week we have “In the Forest of the Night”, and the week after that is “Dark Water”, the first episode of the two-part season finale. How can it almost be over when it feels as though we just got started?
But let’s not get too glum; let’s talk about “Flatline”…and there’s certainly a lot to talk about. For starters, the whole two-dimensional aspect had me originally thinking the premise would be similar to season 2’s “Fear Her”, but this was considerably less benevolent. No, these beings from another dimension are trying to study humans for reasons unknown, and they don’t prove to be very communicative. The Boneless were a fresh new villain for Doctor Who, and I’d love to see them make a return appearance.
Clara had an excellent outing and did well running the show on her own–but, as I suspected, her lies are catching up with her again, and the Doctor is starting to worry about all the lies she’s telling. Speaking of the Doctor, his final face-off with the Boneless was EPIC! Peter Capaldi may be starting to nudge William Hartnell out of my Favorite Doctor slot…maybe; I am still ultimately loyal to One. Anyway, it was still brilliant. I also kind of wonder if the whole Clara-as-the-Doctor scenario was another way of floating the idea of a female regeneration of the Doctor, an idea of which I am on the fence–it could work if they cast a really, really, really really good actress.
And that ending with Missy almost made me think we were dealing with a psycho female Eleventh Doctor…almost. I hold the theory that Missy is Death, but psycho female Eleventh Doctor would make things a whole lot more interesting.
Villains or anti-heroes have a way of capturing the popular imagination much more than traditional heroes. Oh, we all love to root for Aragorn or Luke Skywalker, but when it comes down to it, villains or anti-heroes seem to resonate with audiences. Just look at Erik from The Phantom of the Opera, Frollo from Notre Dame de Paris, Rumpelstiltskin from Once Upon a Time, Gollum from The Lord of the Rings, Darth Vader from Star Wars, or even Loki from the Thor franchise.
What is it about these evil yet flawed characters that attracts us to them? My guess–at some point in their stories, these characters are struggling for redemption. Some of them attain it (Darth Vader died a hero); others don’t quite make it (oh, Frollo, how far you fell–literally). Some, despite their failures, still manage to do something good before their demises (the quest would have been in vain if Gollum hadn’t been there).
We’re drawn to these characters because we can identify with their struggles. Oh, some of them aren’t quite in the same league, but the fact that they are struggling, the fact that they are flawed, is something we can understand. We all struggle with our own flaws. More importantly, we want to believe that we can overcome them in the end. We desire this redemption because we want to be better than what we are, and we cheer when the villains are turned from their ways because it reminds us that no matter how bad we are, we can change. We can be good again; we can be worthy of love again. Not that we were ever unworthy of love, of course; usually it’s the most damaged people who need the most love. Granted, they are not the easiest people to love, but this fundamental quality of human life should never be denied to anyone.
Insert spoiler song and dance.
First of all, I was glad to see the Doctor and Clara patch up their relationship. Clara’s outburst at the end of “Kill the Moon” was stunning to say the least, and I wondered if she would even be in this episode. Still, I doubt the Doctor will take it well when he learns Clara lied to him about Danny.
As for the mummy itself, I was sort of expecting a “Pyramids of Mars”-style mummy, but this was something different. It actually reminded me of a line from “The End of Time” where one of the Time Lords says that the soldiers keep dying, “with time itself finding new ways of resurrecting them.” In fact, I would almost wonder if this was one of the soldiers from the Time War if it weren’t for the fact that the Doctor didn’t recognize the flag or the technology keeping the mummy alive.
And creepy though it was, I think my favorite effect was the scene where the mummy is “passing through” the Doctor. That just looked cool.
“Kill the Moon” was a tense, intriguing outing that showed a rarely-seen side of the Doctor. Too often we forget that the Time Lords had a policy of non-interference, a policy which the Doctor has mostly ignored. But this was different; this decision decided the Earth’s fate, and instead of forcing a decision on the human race, the Doctor lets them decide for themselves.
This unnerves Clara to no end–understandably so; up to now she’s been used to the Doctor making all of the hard decisions…because that was what he did. Now it was her turn, and it left a bitter taste in her mouth. She even told the Doctor to leave, and she clearly had no intention of ever seeing him again. Whether or not they manage to patch up their relationship by the next episode is unclear; the promos for “Mummy on the Orient Express” didn’t show Clara, but they could just be saving the patch-up as a surprise.
Tense Twelve/Clara drama aside, “Kill the Moon” gave us an original concept and is probably one of the most unique episodes of Doctor Who we have seen. It will undoubtedly be remembered as one of the highlights of season 8.