Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Doctor Who: Deep Breath

Admission:

I've only been a fan of BBC's "Doctor Who" for a little more than eighteen months.

But when I get into a show, I dive in.

So, in the last eighteen months, I've watched all of the modern episodes, and have viewed at least a few episodes from most of the previous doctors (I'm sadly lacking with Number Eight...I need to rectify that one.)

Being up to speed now, I was eagerly anticipating the new season, with the new Doctor, played by Peter Capaldi. I'd heard a lot of whining from some "oh he's too old to play the doctor." Oh, really? Was William Hartnell?

The Doctor and Clara. Photo from BBC America
Anywho...

I was blown away by the episode which aired on 8/23, which, ironically, was my wedding anniversary and I wasn't supposed to be able to watch it that night. But friends with football tickets made seeing it Saturday a possibility since my husband was gone! :)

Let's get one thing out of the way first, then I'll go into my thoughts on the episode itself. Since I started watching Doctor Who especially, but also coupled with Sherlock (because they are presently produced and written by the same team--Steven Moffatt and Mark Gatiss), I've mentioned to several writer friends that I'd love to kidnap the pair and just pick their brains. (No worries, BBC, if you're reading this. I'm not planning a trip to Britain any time soon, and this is mostly tongue-in-cheek. Mostly. Not to say if I wasn't in Cardiff or London and saw either of them, I wouldn't stop and try to pick their brains!) Right now, both writers--especially for Sherlock, a little less for Doctor Who--make me want to get into writing screenplays. Perhaps one day.

Cinematically, I have to say, I'm less impressed by Doctor Who than I am Longmire. (If you missed my gushing on the season finale of Longmire, see the post that precedes this one.) I'm sure it's because it's a science fiction show, and they're mostly shooting on a soundstage, and there's a lot of CGI that needs to be added in. But still. It would be nice to see a bit more flare in how the show is put together. That would be my only real criticism. I've never watched an episode of Doctor Who yet where I've just marveled at how the photography is used to tell the story--unlike Longmire, where it's a week-in-and-week-out thing. Apples. Oranges.

River Song
Insert River Song saying in her super-sexy voice, "Spoilers."

Story-wise, I felt the plot was sound. Rarely have I felt a Steven Moffatt script was off (although 7.2 felt off for most of the season. It mostly came together by the end of the season, but 7.2 was disjointed overall. I'm hoping season 8 is different.) The dinosaur being set ablaze, I've seen several people say that was gratuitous. However, after re-watching the episode last night, it played a role. It drew the Doctor and Clara into the main part of the story. I did notice, as some others had noted, that the episode seemed like a bit of a mashup of three older episodes (which ones, I'm not certain of the names, and don't have the time to look them up.) For the most part, I'd agree, although this definitely had its own feel to it. And I think Moffatt was aware of it, and probably had a plan for it to feel vaguely familiar because he was introducing a new Doctor.

 And let's get to the new doctor. As I said above, I was eagerly anticipating Capaldi. I knew he was a fan of the show (I've seen on the internet where he wrote a fan letter to the show at the age of 6! So you know he's got the show's best interest at heart.) And while Matt Smith is my doctor, and David Tennant is just a sliver behind him, I have been curious how they'd take the story in a new direction, especially after "The Day of the Doctor," the show's 50th anniversary special which aired last November. Keep in mind: I'm a writer. As a writer, I'm curious about these things. I watch TV as much for relaxation as I do for learning about my craft. 

As a fan of the show, I was simply delighted at the number of Easter eggs I caught in the episode. I'm sure it was meant to be like that, and there are probably more that I missed, but some of my more memorable ones were these:
  • The face/mirror in the alley scene. Why this face? I've seen this face before. This is probably a reference to the Tennant-era episode "Fires of Pompeii", which Capaldi guested in (which, ironically, Karen Gillan, also was a guest in. If you don't know who Karen is, she was Amy Pond for the first 2.5 seasons of Matt Smith's Doctor, and is currently playing one of the bad guys in "Guardians of the Galaxy.")
  • The scarf question in the same scene as above. The line was something like, "Do you have a scarf? Maybe a long one? No, we're avoiding those." Obvious reference to, I believe, the 4th Doctor. (If I'm wrong, please don't hate me--just let me know in the comments and I'll fix.)
  • "Some days I wish you were Amy." If you're a Whovian, this one doesn't need any explanation. I miss the Ponds, too. 
  • The eyebrows. They're angry eyebrows. They may cede and start their own state of Eyebrows. Not so much an Easter egg, as a something many Whovians have been going on about since Capaldi was announced as the new doctor last year. 
  • Clara at the end, coming into the revamped TARDIS. "You've redecorated. I don't like it." Nearly shot me to tears because Tennant said the same thing to Smith in "The Day of the Doctor" and I think it's a tradition in some of the older episodes as well with multiple doctors. And she said it almost the exact same way that Tennant did! 
Now I need to gush about the MATT SMITH SCENE.

Peter Capaldi as the Doctor in the "Broom Scene"
Photo from BBC America
This is the scene that pushed me over the edge, the one where, if I wasn't crying already, I was by about the mid-point in this scene. I've said it already in a couple places within my friends circles, but I think we as an audience needed the Matt Smith scene. We needed to have one last chance to say goodbye to the Raggedy Man, needed to hear his voice one last time, and know, along with Clara, that this was going to be okay. I almost wonder if this was thrown in for the Capaldi-skeptics, and even though it wasn't essential to the story, I think it helped get us over the hump of believability. Of course, Clara kind of needed to hear it, too. I think she was about ready to bolt on us. And even though I have not been a fan of Clara, she really shined in this episode, and held her own.

Last thoughts, I promise. This is getting lengthy.

 I'm a fan of a good story. Give me solid writing, and, in TV, solid acting, and I'm pretty much hooked. That being said, 7.2 almost lost me because I felt it floundered around a bit. At the time, I needed it, though, because I was far from home, and my son was undergoing a bone marrow transplant. Keep in mind, I love Matt Smith's incarnation as the Doctor.

But even though I was sad to see Matt go, I was eager to see what Capaldi would do. While I think not everyone is as sold as I am, I felt he was refreshing, and I'm looking forward to a darker side of the Doctor.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some squeeeing to go do. ;)

Until next time...

 *********************

Reminder! My debut novella, "Emergence" is out now! You can find it at Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords for the low-low price of $2.99US. If you like mysteries, suspense, or superhero stories, you will enjoy "Emergence"! Go download your copy today.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

New Feature and Longmire: Ashes to Ashes

Good morning!

I'm trying out a new idea this morning here on the blog which some of you may enjoy, and others of you may not. Here's the skinny: I've been in a blogging rut, and have been racking my brain trying to come up with some brilliant idea for months. Writing about writing is boring sometimes, and writing about my family...that can get a little too personal sometimes.

But here's the thing: I love stories. Always have. And I love stories in the short form, especially as TV shows. I'm pretty selective on the shows I watch. Most are mysteries or crime shows, a couple, sci-fi. I also like to occasionally flex my muscles learned in my Film Theory class in college.

So here's what I'm going to try for the next several months: doing posts on some of the shows I watch--what works, what doesn't, and some of the things I notice in the show. They may not always be the day after a show airs--I am a busy mom. Heck, I still have the last 3 or 4 episodes from the last season of Bones on my DVR! But I'll try for a couple posts a week on shows I watch. Nothing long, something you can read easily on your coffee break, other than this introductory post. I'll try also not to post too many spoilers. I know some of you watch the same shows I do--but on Netflix or some other service, and are a season or two behind!

Up first, the season finale on my summer favorite: Longmire.

My background with the show: I've been a fan since about midway through the 1st season, and I've read almost all of the books the show is based on. Craig Johnson, the author of the books, is quickly becoming a favorite author of mine. The fact that the books are set in Wyoming where I have some family is a bonus. I feel like I can picture them better in my head.

Walt Longmire after spreading his wife's ashes where
they said their wedding vows.
Photo from AETV.com

Last night's episode was the season finale, entitled "Ashes to Ashes". And as far as season finales go, it was amazing. It ran a little long, ending about 10 after the hour, but that was okay. I loved every minute of it.

For the past three seasons, Sheriff Walt Longmire has been trying to figure out who was behind the murder of his wife (which happened before the show started.) At the end of Season 2, his best friend, Henry Standing Bear, was accused and arrested for killing the man who killed Walt's wife. We all know Henry didn't do it, but who did? With a mystery like that, I've been engaged. This is something not in the books, so I had no answers. There have been clues all along the way, and something in last night's episode sparked a revelation that I won't divulge for those of you who haven't watched. I will just say I was on the edge of my seat. I was writing in the commercial breaks, but my own fictional world was no competition for Longmire. They'd better come back for a Season Four. How they left things and not knowing if one of the characters has been shot--or even which character--was nearly heart-stopping!

If you don't watch Longmire for ANYTHING else, you should watch it sheerly for the cinematography. Nearly every episode is absolutely beautifully shot. Granted, they have a great place to shoot the show, somewhere in New Mexico. But I'm constantly amazed at what they can do with camera angles, lighting, and just a bit of music--plus a great cast. This show, if it hasn't already, NEEDS to be winning some awards for cinematography. If you can watch last night's episode, even for just five or ten minutes, take the time. I'm especially struck by the opening scenes. The actors playing Walt Longmire and his now-former deputy Branch Connally don't speak, but it tells a wonderful story. Another scene where the actor doesn't speak, and yet his character speaks volumes, involves Henry Standing Bear. But that would possibly give some spoilers, as it comes near the end.

As for the whole story, there are a lot of holes left open. Several are closed, but new ones open. I can't wait for Season Four, and desperately wish that A&E would take this show out of just being a summer show and bring it full-time.

________

I don't know precisely when I'll be doing another of these posts, or for which show. My shows are typically: Bones, NCIS, NCIS: LA, Elementary, Castle, and Agents of Shield. I adored Almost Human last year, and keep hoping FOX will bring it back. (Please, FOX, please bring it back!!) Any of these are fair game for a post, although Castle already has a good post mortem done on it, but from the police procedure aspect, over at LeeLofland.com. 

Until next time...

Liberty

P.S. If you haven't picked up your copy of "Emergence", be sure to do so! $2.99US at Amazon, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble! If you haven't signed up for my mailing list, you can do so here, or in the form on the side under my picture.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Adventures in the Great Outdoors, I

If you took the way that my husband (The Man Of The House, or TMOTH) and I grew up and compared them, you would see the reason why the two of us are vastly different. Unless we were at my grandparents' farm, we didn't do much outdoorsy stuff--camping, hiking, fishing, etc. My husband? was outside ALL THE TIME.

Ironically, my husband and I met on a camping trip--the weekend was the first time I'd ever stayed overnight in a tent.

While I'm still not an "outdoorsy" girl--I'd still rather be at home with my books and laptop--I've been getting better about being outside. Or at least I'm trying to be.

Frequently on the weekends, my husband says for me to pack a cooler and grab some diapers for our three-year-old, and off we go. Sometimes I grumble, if not to him, to myself. I'm not a spontaneous person, I like to have some time to plan things when possible. An hour to pack everything we'll need for the rest of the day and it's 11 AM? Yeah, doesn't thrill me too much.

But, I like what it's teaching my kids--to be flexible, roll with the punches, and most importantly, enjoy the outdoors (although, much of the time, all they're enjoying at this age are movies in the car and an excessively long car ride.)

Father's Day was one of these days. On the way to church, TMOTH made noises that he wanted to go fishing. So, I had about a two hour warning before we got home that this was on the plate. Get home, pack lunch, grab the diapers, head out. 

Then, what inevitably happens with us, "Where are we going?"

"I don't know. You tell me."

"It's Father's Day. You pick."

"I don't know where to go!"

A bluegill our daughter caught on Father's Day
I sigh, make a few half-hearted suggestions. We stop and he retrieves the Gazeteer from the trunk. I start telling him directions. The kids watch "How to Train Your Dragon" for the 17th time in the last few weeks. The younger one naps. The dog is cramped, on the floor between the front and back seats of our mid-sized sedan.

We're all wishing we had a Suburban, especially the dog.

Eventually, we find a spot we've been to before, a long, long time ago--maybe before the kids came around. TMOTH and our daughter fish.

Our daughter catches two small bluegill, TMOTH catches a small catfish and a small bluegill.

I keep our son from falling into the water, take pictures of dragonflies when I can get close enough to them without our son getting too close and scaring them off. We huddle down together after retrieving our hats from the car as light showers come across the lake and hit us head on. By the time we leave, my T-shirt is soaked from the rain.

I'm cold, haven't had dinner, and am tired, but other than gently reminding my husband he neglected to get me something to eat when I couldn't eat at Subway (I started a gluten-free diet last fall, so Subway is NOT on my menu,) I don't say too much. I do adjust the thermostat in the car to something a little warmer, then help my husband figure out where the heck to go. We take a wrong turn or two (I've gotten turned around on where we are,) and I mark the Gazeteer in ink on where to go again, and scratch off roads shown on the map that aren't roads.

It's been a successful day overall. We made it home in one piece. The kids got to run around and fish. I took several pictures, none I'm thrilled with, but they're okay. And more importantly, my husband got me out of the house. I've become quite a homebody the last couple years. Having your life center around the health and wellness of your immune-compromised son will do that to you.

Next up on our list of challenges--a possible weekend trip to a cabin, or maybe even in a tent.

I'm not sure I'm ready yet.


Until next time...

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