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Some Thoughts on “Doctor Who: The Pilot” *Contains Spoilers*

Well, folks, Doctor Who‘s tenth season is upon us, and that means the return of my Doctor Who reviews! I’ve got to admit; I missed writing these last year. The only new episode we had was “The Return of Doctor Mysterio” at Christmas, so it’s nice to get back into the swing of things. As always, spoilers await those who venture further.

“The Pilot” sees Peter Capaldi return as the Doctor (for the last time, unfortunately) and Matt Lucas return as Nardole, and we finally get a proper introduction to Pearl Mackie’s new companion Bill Potts. Bill is a university canteen worker with an unrelenting thirst for knowledge, which leads her to sneak into the Doctor’s lectures. The Doctor admires her passion for learning and offers to tutor her. Bill’s not quite sure what to make of him, but she jumps at the chance to indulge in the learning she loves so much. But when her friend Heather turns into a watery apparition that starts stalking her night and day, Bill quickly learns that the Doctor is the only one who is able to help both of them.

I’ll be honest–this was surprisingly low-key for a season premiere. I was expecting it to be energetic and manic in true Moffat fashion, but instead it was very quiet and kind of subdued. If this was supposed to be a brand-new jumping on point for new viewers, I’m not sure if they would have found anything to get them excited and wanting to see more–expect maybe Capaldi, who gets some excellent Doctor-y lines in this episode (things like poetry is the same as physics because of the rhyming and that awesome dissertation on Time and Relative Dimension in Space). The more I see of Capaldi, the more I’m going to miss Twelve.

I was a little bit disappointed with Bill as well. There wasn’t really anything about her that reached out and grabbed me, but I’m going to wait a bit before passing judgement on her. After all, I didn’t really start to like Clara until season 8, but I hope it won’t take me as long to like Bill, especially considering the rumors that she’ll only be around for one season. I will say one thing I like about her, though–they’re setting her up to be a pupil-style companion like Ace, and I am excited to see how that turns out. I think some of the Doctor’s best interactions with his companions have been with him in the role of teacher. Seeing Capaldi in the role of teacher-Doctor will be the perfect way to end his run on the show.

And I’m just going to get this out of the way now–Bill lives with her foster-mother Moira since her birth mother is dead. We don’t know who her father is, which means he’s either not important or the Master, who we already know is returning in the persona of John Simm. I have literally nothing to base this on except the fact that this is Moffat’s last season, and after seven years of him as showrunner, I put nothing past him anymore. Nothing.

We did get to see the Movellans from “Destiny of the Daleks” again, but it wasn’t nearly as long as I would have liked. Perhaps they’ll be back for a longer period of time later in the season. I don’t think they would have hyped the Movellans’ return so much if they were only going to be back for ten seconds.

Next week, “Smile” takes us to a human colony that has emoji robots. Not being a fan of emojis myself, I hope this doesn’t turn out too stupid.

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Doctor Who Review: The Return of Doctor Mysterio *Contains Spoilers*

Considering this was the only new episode of Doctor Who we could expect to see this year, writing a review of it was kind of a no-brainer. I did miss having new episodes to review each week, so I looked forward to having a chance to write down my thoughts on the 2016 Christmas special. It’s been exactly one year since our last new episode–was it worth the wait?

“The Return of Doctor Mysterio” sees, well, the return of Peter Capaldi as the Doctor with Matt Lucas reprising his role of Nardole from last year’s Christmas special, “The Husbands of River Song” (yes, there is an explanation as to why he is back in one piece after he was beheaded last year). After his twenty-four-year night with River on Darillium, the Doctor reattached Nardole’s head to his body and offered him a place aboard the TARDIS–with both Clara and River gone, he didn’t want to travel alone (although he denies this reason). They turn up in New York City investigating Harmony Shoal, suspecting it’s a front for alien activity. Their investigation leads them to cross paths with Lucy Fletcher, a journalist trying to get background information on Harmony Shoal’s real purpose, and the Ghost, a masked superhero who has made it his mission to protect the city from all threats. Plot twist–the Doctor and the Ghost have met before. Twenty-four years ago, there was a little boy named Grant who had a conversation with a madman on a roof, and during the course of the conversation, he accidentally swallowed a Hazandra gemstone. Known as the “Ghost of Love and Wishes”, this gemstone has the ability to grant any wish–to a young boy with a love of comic books, it gives him super powers. The Doctor made Grant promise never to use his powers, but Grant saw an opportunity to help people, and he took it.

This wasn’t the best of the Christmas specials, but it was very good, nonetheless. There was much poking of fun at common superhero clichés and wry commentary. What I noticed, though, is that Moffat seemed to have toned down his writing this time; it seemed less frantic and manic than previous specials. Frankly, I think the story benefitted from that change of pace–when Moffat slows down and takes the time to work out the plot, his writing is much better. Also, I hope we get to see Grant and Lucy again in the future; they were fun characters. They started as parodies of Superman and Lois Lane but turned into characters I genuinely cared about.

Something else that struck me was a change in Nardole’s character–he seemed wiser, somehow, and seemed to have a good understanding of the Doctor. I’m not sure if that wisdom came from having a drastic perspective shift from being beheaded or if it came from many previous travels, but he definitely understands the Doctor’s pain and wants to help him heal. The Doctor certainly trusts him, or else I don’t imagine he would have taught him how to fly the TARDIS. But Nardole is showing he can be more than an inept bumbler, and it will be interesting to see how that plays out in season 10.

And speaking of season 10…

Allons-y!

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So Much for My Dream Cast…

After hearing about Disney’s live-action version of Beauty and the Beast in the works, I got my own cast together in my head. After Emma Watson as Belle, my head-cast featured Benedict Cumberbatch as the Beast, Tom Hiddleston as Lumiere, Martin Freeman as Cogsworth, Julie Andrews as Mrs. Potts, and Peter Capaldi as Maurice. I didn’t have any real idea about whom I wanted to see as Gaston, but that was the gist of my cast.

Well, Disney finally announced their Beast, and it looks as though my dream cast will remain just that–a dream. The actor playing the Beast is Dan Stevens, a guy I’ve never heard of before, but he must be good, or else they wouldn’t have cast him…then again, I love Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, but he was a horribly miscast Valjean in Les Miserables (and don’t even get me started on Russell Crowe’s Javert).

On the plus side, they’ve also announced Luke Evans as Gaston. Luke Evans, as most of you probably know, played Bard the Bowman in The Desolation of Smaug and The Battle of the Five Armies–and played him quite well, I might add, making him appropriately awesome. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing him in this movie.

Rumored to be playing Lefou is Matt Lucas, who played Thenadier in the 25th anniversary concert of Les Miserables (good ol’ 25th Les Mis concert!). I really hope this rumor is true; he was a perfect Thenadier in Les Mis, and I know he would do a good job as Lefou.

I’m disappointed that my ideal cast does not seem to be happening, but the inclusion of Luke Evans and (hopefully) Matt Lucas mollifies me a little bit. I just really, really, really hope this movie does not turn into another disappoint.

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