matt smith

‘Lost River’ was wronged by Cannes, and is actually quite magnificent

When his film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival last year, many critics reacted as if Ryan Gosling’s directorial debut had manifested itself into an abusive figure that vomited on their shoes, then repeatedly kicked their dog. Such a reaction was completely unearned by Lost River. There are flaws in the film, understandably, but it shines for them.

Doctor Who Christmas Special promo image

Doctor Who 2013 Christmas Special, “The Time of the Doctor” a disappointing, frustrating mess

Doctor Who Christmas Special promo imageIn short, “The Time of the Doctor” features a plot that, while it is easy (on the Moffat scale) to follow, almost immediately fails the, “But why?” test. Why does the fleet understand what “Doctor who?” means? Because the plot needs them to. Why doesn’t the Doctor take the townspeople out of harm’s way with the TARDIS? Because. Why do the Doctor and Clara need to be naked, for that matter? Because. The answers we finally get to lingering questions aren’t satisfying, the promising new character of Tasha Lem is a pretty straightforward copy of River Song, and the gender politics are terrible (and in this reviewer’s opinion, destructive). The Doctor may have some fantastic scenes, including the final moments with Clara before his regeneration, but he treats her terribly and she doesn’t for a moment stand up for herself. After the wonderful “The Day of the Doctor”, this final story for the Eleventh Doctor is a significant disappointment, highlighting all of the most problematic elements of his tenure.

Matt Smith as the Eleventh Doctor

Doctor Who Profile: The Eleventh Doctor

The Eleventh Doctor is whimsical and energetic, but also brooding and manipulative. His number one rule for his Companions is that the Doctor always lies, which takes the sneakiness and deceitfulness the Seventh Doctor to another level. Though he initially feels out of place with humans, not understanding basic elements of social interactions, the Eleventh Doctor eventually becomes downright domestic (in his way) with River and, after his relationship with her progresses and she heads to the Library, he becomes quite leery in his interactions with his female allies and Companions. He’s impatient and easily bored, struggling to sit still at any given moment while valuing stability for his Companions in a way he hasn’t previously and traveling with Companions who have (comparatively) normal home lives separate from their multiple-story adventures with him.

Promo poster for Doctor Who's 50th Annivesary Special, The Day of the Doctor

Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Special, “The Day of the Doctor” a beautiful, fitting tribute

Doctor Who may be an international phenomenon, but when it comes to specials, particularly multi-Doctor specials, it doesn’t have the best track record. The Three Doctors (1972-73) , which kicked off the 10th season of the show, is fun, but lacks any significant emotional punch. The Five Doctors (1983), the 20th anniversary special, is a bit of a lark but it not only fails to live up to its title (the Fourth Doctor only barely appears, in one looped clip), it wastes most of its special guest stars. Then there’s The Two Doctors (1985), which doesn’t carry the extra burden of being an anniversary special but still fails to leave much of an impression, despite being an entertaining outing. Throw in the modern series’ spotty history with Christmas and Gap Year specials and current showrunner Steven Moffat’s season seven struggles with pacing, payoffs, and character and “The Day of the Doctor” looked to have a lot riding against it, despite the much-touted return of Tenth Doctor David Tennant and Billie Piper, who played fan-favorite Companion Rose Tyler. Fortunately with “The Day of the Doctor”, all of these fears are proven to be unfounded, as Moffat and director Nick Hurran deliver an exciting, emotional special.

Doctor Who Series Five promo art

Plausibility and Doctor Who, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Nonsense

In the last five years of Doctor Who, the Daleks have pulled the Earth out of its orbit and dragged it across the galaxy. The Doctor has witnessed the end of the universe, pulled into nonexistence by the explosion of his TARDIS, and saved only by a bold and completely ludicrous plot to reboot everything with a “Big Bang 2.0.”. The Doctor has survived his own death, despite it being a fixed point in time. He has romanced a woman who he cradled in his arms during her infancy, befriended his future mother-in-law when she was a child, and been saved from a villain infecting his entire timeline by a pretty girl willing to do the same. Doctor Who is, to put it gently, completely nuts, a ludicrous hour of television that bends suspension of disbelief until it begs to break.

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