Why Can’t People Leave Well Enough Alone?

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/

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The Aftermath of “Flatline” *Contains Spoilers*

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.

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Anti-Heroes and a Quest for Redemption

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 fromĀ 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.

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The Aftermath of “Mummy on the Orient Express” *Contains Spoilers*

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.

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The Aftermath of “Kill the Moon” *Contains Spoilers*

Spoilers, etc.

“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.

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The Importance of Men in “The Lord of the Rings”

Last week was Tolkien Week, and as I always do, I spent it reveling in all things Middle-Earth. Tolkien Week might not be a big, official holiday, but it’s still one of my favorite times of year.

Something interesting occurred to me, though, as I was reading The Lord of the Rings–why are Men so important? Think about; of the four free peoples (five if you feel like including the Ents), Men are kind of unimpressive. They’re not immortal like Elves; they’re more easily corrupted than Hobbits, and they’re not as strong or sturdy as Dwarves. But at the same time there is something important about their presence in Middle-Earth. In The Silmarillion this is obvious; Iluvatar (the Elves’ name for God) forms Men with a desire for travel, for seeing what lay beyond the borders of their land. They are also given–well, the closest I can describe it is free will; they can shape their own destiny beyond the influence of the Music of the Ainur. And, of course, Men die of old age. The Elves refer to this as the Gift of Iluvatar because they know the burdens of immortality.

In Middle-Earth itself, Men are shown to have the potential for either good or evil in themselves much more frequently than you see with Elves. And have you noticed than when it comes to a company of mixed races, it’s normally the Men that are chosen to be the leaders? Why is this? What is so important about Men?

My thoughts is that this leads back to free will. The way this was phrased in The Silmarillion itself was, “…they [Men] should have a virtue to shape their life, amid the powers and chances of the world, beyond the Music of the Ainur, which is as fate to all things else…” Men have a certain degree of freedom denied to other races. This makes them extremely special in all of Middle-Earth.

Why the specialness? Well, the Catholic in me is jumping up and down, waving her arms and shouting, “Because of the Incarnation! Because God became Man!” This may be part of the reason–Tolkien was Catholic, so the importance of the Incarnation wasn’t lost on him. However, I can’t say for certain this is a reason because, despite the fact Middle-Earth is supposed to be an older version of our world, we don’t know when the Incarnation would have happened in the Middle-Earth timeline. What we do know, however, is that Iluvatar intended for Men to join in the Second Music of the Ainur at the end of the world.

So perhaps it’s not important precisely why Men are so important in Middle-Earth. Perhaps all that matter is that Iluvatar loves them and plans for them to join him one day. The Elves may not know what waits for them at the end of the world, but Men do.

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Hope for “Once Upon a Time”?

The last season of Once Upon a Time had me very, very skeptical about the quality of the writing. To me, the Neverland and Oz plots seemed like half-baked debacles, and I cringed when they revealed that Frozen would be a key player in season 4. But you know what? They actually started out okay. The plot doesn’t seem forced or unnatural; the characters aren’t annoying, and it actually grabs your attention. I will be very happy if the quality of the writing only goes up from here.

I will also say that I like how Regina hasn’t gone all berserk yet. After the character development they gave her, I was really afraid they were going to undo it. But Regina is showing some restraint, which is a good thing. Here’s hoping she won’t give in to her dark plan and will fully become the good woman Henry believes she can be.

As a final note, the whole author subplot promises to be extremely interesting. It was my understanding that Pinocchio wrote the book or had some involvement in it. Are they going to suggest he got the stories elsewhere? Or am I off-base, and Pinocchio didn’t have anything to do with the book? It’s been so long since they covered that storyline I can’t remember.

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