Doctor Who is in Top Form!


There’s a beat and a rhythm to Doctor Who that makes it comfortable.  Especially when a new companion comes along, but for some reason, this season just feels like it’s doing it right, and that hasn’t gone unnoticed.  Unfortunately just in time for Peter Capaldi to leave.


Spoilers below for “Thin Ice”

This week’s “Thin Ice” was the “learn that running around in a Police Box spaceship can be quite grim” part of Bill’s education, as she was forced to confront the sort of deadly adventures the Doctor often finds himself on. Seeing a death is usually a harrowing point of no return for many Who companions, but Bill happens to see a young boy sucked below the iced-over surface of the Thames in the last great London Frost Fair of 1814 by a seemingly sinister monster. It’s a particularly harsh reminder of the danger she faces at the Doctor’s side.

The scene of the Doctor’s frosty attempt to move Bill on from the tragedy is another example of Peter Capaldi and Pearl Mackie working perfectly together, but it’s also a moment of rare contemplation on Doctor Who, even if it’s ultimately wrapped up in the familiar frame of a companion learning of the Doctor’s dark past. This was perhaps the most involved the show has been in showing a companion’s reaction to death in quite some time, and it worked so well dramatically because instead of the usual quick acknowledgment (followed by running down corridors perfectly fine mere moments later), there was time given to actually let Bill process it all. Doctor Who, despite being a show about time travel, rarely allows for such moments as it bounds across its perpetually-just-too-short 45-minute runtime to an explosive conclusion every week, so to see it actually stop and acknowledge the bleakness of it all was quite refreshing.

And yet, at the same time, “Thin Ice” was also an immensely fun episode despite the darker material it played with, which is why it worked so well. From Bill and the Doctor’s growing banter as they debated the butterfly effect and time travel in the episode’s opening (RIP Pete, we hardly knew ye) to the happy ending for the street urchins on the Thames getting the legal rights to the villainous Lord Sutcliffe’s home, writer Sarah Dollard’s script was adeptly nimble at knowing when to go in for an emotionally powerful scene or knowing when to just have a laugh instead. And in Capaldi and Mackie, Who has two leads right now who are just as good at switching between either tone.

Doctor Who is at its very best when it balances its darkness and humor, and “Thin Ice” was a perfect example of that. Contrast the joke the Doctor and Bill have about history being whitewashed when they encounter a diverse Regency-era London populace to the Doctor’s sedate, yet barnstorming speech about privilege and race when cornered by the man behind the monster of the week. Contrast the Doctor’s callous attitude to moving on from death by telling Bill he has “no time for outrage” to him, in a fit of hypocritical outrage, decking Lord Sutcliffe instead of trying to charm some answers out of him in a moment of comedic joy. This was an episode as much about acknowledging the dark side that comes with traveling with the Doctor as much as it was about liberating a trapped alien creature who’s poop was being used as fuel for the industrial machine, and having a laugh while doing so.

That mix of tragedy and comedy is the two sides of the weird coin that is Doctor Who, really. And if season 10 can carry on balancing those aspects as well as it did here, this could shape up to be one of the better runs on the show there’s been in a few years.

Assorted Musings (in Time and Space):

  • The Doctor punching the horrifyingly racist Sutcliffe was definitely fantastic, but a better proposal courtesy of Peter Capaldi himself: He really should’ve used Venusian Aikido instead.
  • This episode continued to prove my belief that Doctor Who can always be improved tenfold by pointing Peter Capaldi in the direction of a speech. And that was already on top of this episode being great already!
  • So more mystery of whatever’s trapped in the vault—or seemingly, because of all that knocking, who. The implication appears to be a hint of John Simm’s Master, who we know is coming back, but going back and re-watching the last scene again, the knocks come in three-round bursts, rather than the staccato tap-tap-tap-tap that symbolized Simm’s incarnation. So maybe it’s an aural red herring, who knows?

X-Files is Back, and Casey may rampage | Geek Versus Week podcast #129


X-Files is returning with 10 new episodes, and nobody is more excited than Casey.  However, with that excitement comes passion, and Casey may rampage if the X-Files doesn’t fulfill a promise.

The X-Files Renewed for 10-Episode (!!) Season 11 at Fox ? First Look

Wheel of Time is coming to TV, but none of us have read the books, so we have some interesting chatter about that.

Wheel of Time Coming to TV

Also Betty puts herself out there, and lets you the fans control her fate.

All that plus Doctor Who, Arrow, Property Brothers, and Carmen Sandiego on episode 129 of Geek Versus Week.


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Doctor Who Will Get Good Again Because

john simm master

John Simm is returning as the Master on Doctor Who.


Sure, we all knew that Michelle Gomez was returning as the Master in the next season of Doctor Who. But now we know she’s being joined by one of her former selves: none other than John Simm himself. I mean, sure, if the Doctor can bring along his past selves for adventures, why not his best friend/mortal nemesis?

The news announced today by the BBC—which was preceded by recent talk from Steven Moffat of a “major spoiler” appearing in a next time trailer attached to the show’s season 10 premiere—marks Simm’s first return to the role of the Master since 2010’s “The End of Time.”

That story, the final one of David Tennant’s tenure as the Doctor, saw Simm’s Master sacrifice himself to stop the Time Lords from wrenching their home world back into existence. Even that was after he’d already “died” a first time in the climax of his debut in the show in season three. So if there’s one thing that Simm’s Master can do, it’s survive seemingly fatal odds repeatedly. Here’s what Simm himself had to say about his return:

I can confirm that it’s true, thanks to the power of time travel I’m back. It’s always a pleasure to work with this great team of people and I can’t wait for you all to see what the Master gets up to in the next series.

The BBC would not confirm how and why Simm’s incarnation would return, but Steven Moffat did confirm at least one thing: Michelle Gomez’s Missy and Simm’s Master will be “face to face” on screen. Which is going to be an amazing sight to behold. Doctor Who returns on April 15.

Are you excited for John Simm to return as the Master?  Will it be him AND Gomez? mind blown!!!!

Lennox Lewis is the new Doctor | Geek Versus Week podcast #119

doctor who

CW picks up Greg Berlanti’s Black Lightning pilot

The CW has given a pilot order for the drama, which hails from the prolific superhero producer (Arrow, The Flash, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, Supergirl) as well as The Game and Being Mary Jane creator Mara Brock Akil and her husband Salim Akil.

Black Lightning, created by Tony Isabella with Trevor Von Eeden in 1977, is one of DC Comics’ first major African-American superheroes.

The logline for the project reads, “Jefferson Pierce made his choice: he hung up the suit and his secret identity years ago, but with a daughter hell-bent on justice and a star student being recruited by a local gang, he’ll be pulled back into the fight as the wanted vigilante and DC legend — Black Lightning.”


It’s official: Arrival director Denis Villeneuve is making the upcoming Dune reboot

Some excellent news for sci-fi fans: director Denis Villeneuve, of Arrival and Sicario fame, is officially signed up to direct the upcoming Dune reboot. The news was confirmed this morning by Brian Herbert, son of Frank Herbert, who wrote the original 1965 Dune novel. The news was rumored last December, but not confirmed until this morning.

Legendary Pictures bought the TV and film rights to Dune from the Herbert estate last year, but details about either project are pretty thin. Dune’s last adaptation on film was in 1984, with a title directed by David Lynch and featuring Kyle MacLachlan as Paul Atreides (MacLachlan would later go on to star in Lynch’s Twin Peaks).

The 1984 film was critically panned and lost money at the box office, but the source material has never lost its allure to fans. Having Villeneuve on board to direct the reboot certainly bodes well following the smash-hit that was Arrival. And there’ll be more from the French-Canadian director this year too — he’s behind the Blade Runner reboot starring Harrison Ford and Ryan Gosling, out this October.


Peter Capaldi is quitting Doctor Who

The Doctor is out. Earlier today, Peter Capaldi announced that he would be leaving Doctor Who at the end of this year’s 10th season. No replacement has been announced for the role.

Capaldi announced his departure on BBC Radio 2. “I feel it’s time to move on,” he said. “I can’t praise the people I work with more highly, but I have always been someone that did a lot of different things.”

Capaldi isn’t the only high-profile departure from the show. Last summer, showrunner Stephen Moffat announced that he would be leaving at the end of the 10th season, and that he would be replaced by Broadchurch creator Chris Chibnall. This means that the 11th season of the show will have a new lead and creative crew.


All this and more on Episode 119 of the Geek Versus week podcast. 

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Doctor Who Season 9, Episode 2: "The Witch's Familiar" Recap (Spoilers)

Remember how in the previous episode it seemed like Missy and Clara were killed, but nobody bought that for even a second?  Well, this episode thankfully doesn’t waste any time with the charade and in the opening scene, Missy explains how she got Clara and herself out alive, as well as explained how she survived being vaporized in the previous season’s finale.  She does so by telling a story of how the Doctor once used enemy fire to recharge a teleporter to both escape, as well as make it appear as if he was killed, causing his pursuers to stop looking for him.  So she used the same trick with her and Clara’s vortex manipulators.

The whole time Missy has been sharpening a stick, and Clara has been hanging upside down because Missy tied her up with a rope, and one has to ask, “Where did the rope come from?!”, which is never answered.  Missy cuts Clara down and they discuss a few things, then they set off to the Dalek…city?  Complex?  Base?  All three?  They set off for the buildings that have the Daleks in them, in order to save the Doctor.

Back in Davros’ chamber, he monologues while the Doctor rummages around and finds a Dalek gun and threatens Davros with it.  The Doctor kicks Davros out of his chair and Davros sounds the alarm.  The Doctor, in Davros’ chair, rolls into the Dalek command chamber brandishing the gun and asking what happened to Clara, to which the Daleks hesitatingly respond that Clara is, in fact, actually dead.  Then the snake guy (Upon rewatching I realized that while they mentioned him by name multiple times, I completely missed it, so bad on me.  His name is Colony Sarff.) who was all over the previous episode, is able to wrap a bunch of snakes around the Doctor and recapture him.

At this time, Missy and Clara are going through what Missy refers to as the Dalek sewers, and they come to a hole in the ground, which Missy pushes Clara into so as to determine the depth.  (It’s very predictable, but it fits the character and I thought it was funny.)  Because of the fall, Clara is able to get the pointy stick and threatens Missy with it, to which Missy’s response is to immediately turn her back to Clara to see if Clara would make good on her threat, which of course she doesn’t.  Missy then superspeeds (I didn’t realize she could do that) up to Clara and snatches the stick from her hand.

As they make it to a detection system in the sewer, Missy explains that to Daleks, a sewer is essentially the same thing as a graveyard, and that they are surrounded by countless decaying Daleks.  Missy then handcuffs Clara to the detection system to use her as bait.  (Side note:  Missy carries around a lot of interesting random things.) 

A Dalek comes up to respond to the alarm, and Missy pokes holes in it with her superbroach made of dark star alloy, which is just a fancy way of saying it can poke holes in a Dalek.  The holes in the Dalek tank allow the decaying Dalek goo stuff to get into the tank and kill the Dalek inside, which is a plot point I never fully understood, but I guess it has something to do with the Dalek Goo (that’s what I’m calling it now) being vengeful toward the other Daleks.  

The recaptured Doctor awakens in a chair, once again in Davros’ chamber.  Davros tells the Doctor he should be thankful because that chair is the only one on Skaro, which brings up another unanswered question, “Who is it for?!”.  Davros draws the Doctor’s attention to a device in the middle of the room that has a bunch of cables attached, and explains that he’s been able to prolong his life this long by means of a life link that feeds Davros the life force of all the Daleks on Skaro.

Davros then tries to goad the Doctor into killing him and all of the Daleks by ripping the cables, calling it “genocide by choice”, which of course the Doctor doesn’t do, but not after considering it for a while.  Davros then asks the Doctor why he even showed up, considering their history and how dangerous it would be, to which the Doctor’s response was, “You’re sick, and you asked”, which kicks off some verbal sparring about the pros and cons of compassion.

Down in the sewer, Missy gets Clara to crawl inside the Dalek tank and interface with it.  How she was able to convince Clara to do this, I’ll never understand, and honestly, I think it’s a little insulting to the character.  Nevertheless, this is what happens.  When Clara speaks, she’s unable to say certain things because of some sort of filter in the system.  For example, “I am Clara” comes out as “I am a Dalek”, and “I love you” comes out as, of course, “Exterminate!”.  Also, getting emotional evidently fires the weapon, too.

Over the course of the conversation between the Doctor and Davros, the Doctor informs Davros that he was able to bring Gallifrey back and that the Time Lords are alive and well, even though he doesn’t really know where they are.  Then Davros, in one of the most out of character moments of all time, congratulates the Doctor and tells him that he’s genuinely happy for him.  Then, a bit more in character, he advises the Doctor to do whatever is necessarity and be as ruthless as possible to protect his people, which leads to this exchange:

Doctor: You really are dying, aren’t you?
Davros: Look at me. Did you doubt it?
Doctor: Yes.
Davros: Then we have established one thing only.
Doctor: What?
Davros: You are not a good doctor.

Then the Doctor and Davros, two bitter enemies for untold centuries, laugh it up and pretty much become buddies.

Missy and Clara, disguised as a Dalek, do the whole Trojan Prisoner routine, and they pretend that Clara is escorting Missy to be detained.  They make it to the Dalek command chamber once again, and Missy demands to see Davros, stating that she has a gift for him – Clara Oswald, and through this, control of the Doctor.

While Davros and the Doctor are having touching moments together, Davros laments his inability to make it to see one last sunrise with his own eyes, instead of the mechanical glowing eye in the middle of his forehead he had been using.  (Fun fact:  I never realized that’s what that was.  Maybe I’m just slow.) 

The Doctor rigs Davros up with the cables in an effort to keep Davros alive long enough to see the aforementioned sunrise, but it’s just too little, too late.  Davros then really lays it on with the statement that just once, he wishes he and the Doctor had been on the same side.  At this point, the Doctor decides to lend some of his regeneration energy to Davros (Really?!  Really?!  You’re giving regeneration energy to Space Hitler?). 

So the Doctor gets into the device with the cables and starts pumping in regeneration energy, but is immediately seized by Colony Sarff and locked into the device, which Davros then uses to regenerate himself and the Daleks along with him, creating Dalek/Time Lord hybrids, which, as we find out, has been Davros’ plan all along.  Who would have thought that the most evil person in space in time would be such a shady guy?

Missy realizes what’s happening and breaks into the chamber, shoots up the device, and the Doctor is able to get out, but it’s too late, and Davros starts gloating once again about how great his victory is and how the Doctor has failed and blah blah blah, the same usual Davros stuff.

But wait, while the whole time Davros was working his brilliant master plan and manipulating the Doctor, the Doctor knew what was happening and was in turn manipulating events himself, which is a little ridiculous and reminds me of this:

 (Full version here:

What the Doctor realized that Davros didn’t account for, was that the regeneration energy would work on the Dalek Goo in the sewer, which then proceeds to bubble up through the pipes and kill the Daleks.  After the Doctor and Missy make fun of Davros for being a moron, they make their escape.

They encounter Clara in the Dalek tank and Missy lies, saying that it’s the Dalek that killed Clara and that the Doctor should kill it.  Clara is unable to tell the Doctor that it’s her because of the filter, but the Doctor figures it out when she’s able to get the word “mercy” to come through, because a Dalek shouldn’t be able understand the concept. 

Clara says she can’t get out, so the Doctor tells her to think the word “open” in order to open the tank.  So you mean to tell me, this whole time she was trapped in the Dalek tank, she never once thought the word “open”?  Really?  Clara’s reputation and cleverness really took a beating this episode.

The Doctor tells Missy to run, which she does.  She gets surrounded by Daleks, then claims to have a really “clever idea”, which is the last we see of her.

The Doctor and Clara make it to the Dalek command chamber and he uses his new “sonic sunglasses” to reassemble the TARDIS from HADS (Hostile Action Displacement System) mode, which basically is a way to explain why it looked like it had been blown to bits, but really wasn’t.  Then he and Clara peace out, leaving the Daleks to their fate.

The Doctor realizes he has one last thing to do – he goes back to little boy Davros trapped in the hand mines from the previous episode, rescues him, and really drives home the point of how important mercy is.  This allows for there to be the tiniest understanding of mercy to exist within the Daleks, thereby allowing the Doctor to recognize Clara in the Dalek tank and save her, as he did earlier, thus creating a stable time loop.

All in all, a very interesting opening story to kick off the season.  I can’t wait to see what’s to come!

Geek vs Week #58: Good Riddance, Clara Oswald

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Doctor Who Season 9 Premiere: "The Magician's Apprentice" Recap (Spoilers)

The episode opens in the middle of a war fought with differing levels of technology, ie, aircraft vs bow and arrows, which is very reminiscent of The Hunger Games.  One of the soldiers notices a little boy stuck in an area that’s full of “hand mines”.  Get it?  It’s a funny little play on “land mines” only it’s “hand mines”, only wait, no, there’s nothing funny about it at all because hands come up out of the ground and drag you down to your death, which is actually a little terrifying.  Oh, and the palms of the hands have eyes on them, similar to the guy from Pan’s Labyrinth.

The soldier gets pulled underground and that’s the last we see of that guy, so now we have the point of view of the child, who is in the middle of a field of hands, and he’s pretty much done for.  Of course, it’s at this point the Doctor shows up, tosses the kid his sonic screwdriver, and gives him a pep talk.  The Doctor asks the kid his name, and he tells him it’s Davros, his longtime enemy and creator of the Daleks, and the Doctor proceeds to immediately freak out.  I guess there was no chance it was a case of mistaken identity (“Oh no, that’s Davros Jones.  I’m Davros Smith.”), and there’s only one Davros in all of time and space.  Ok, that’s just me being nitpicky because I know it’s the same Davros, you know it’s the same Davros, and the Doctor knows it’s the same Davros.

Then the opening credits roll.  All this stuff is in the cold open.

We come back to a robed, hooded, snake-like creature going through time and space asking people where the Doctor is, saying Davros has a message for him:  “Davros knows.  Davros remembers, and the Doctor must face him one last time.”  The Doctor is hiding at one of the places and gets the message.

Back on Earth, Clara is teaching class when she notices a plane frozen in the sky.  She has her students get on social media to be part of the conversation over the frozen planes, and she leaves to consult with UNIT.

Clara meets up with the head of UNIT, Kate Lethbridge-Stewart, but not before Kate gets to say the line,”Tell the President I’ll call him back”, thus establishing how important she is.  Clara, Kate, and an as of yet unnamed UNIT scientist (if she has a name, I apologize – I didn’t catch it) discuss the frozen plane phenomenon.  After the obligatory and obvious “This is beyond human technology” line buy the scientist lady, Clara deduces that someone is trying to send a message, but who?

Then a message comes through the Doctor’s private channel, which he never uses.  It turns out it’s Missy, who isn’t dead after all, which is explained by, well, a non-explanation.  Missy reveals she’s the one behind the planes being frozen and arranges a meeting with Clara.

Missy and Clara, accompanied by several teams of UNIT agents, meet at an outdoor cafe.  The agents hang back and Clara sits at a table with Missy, and Missy reveals to Clara the Doctor’s confession dial, which, per Time Lord custom, is sent to a Time Lord’s closest friend on the eve of their final day, with the closest friend being Missy, and the day in question being the current day.  

Because of this, Missy has been looking for the Doctor, but hasn’t had any success in finding him, so she wants to use Clara and UNIT to find find the Doctor.  Clara then asks Missy if she’s supposed to believe that Missy has turned good now, although why Clara even thought that’s what Missy was trying to convey is a little beyond me, you know, with the whole freezing the planes thing.  Since there weren’t any puppies around to kick, Missy murders two UNIT agents to reassure Clara that no, she in fact is not “good”.

Together they come to the conclusion that the Doctor is somewhere on Earth, but exactly where and when is what they need to find out, which they do using a UNIT algorithm.  Once this is discovered, Missy transports herself and Clara to that time and place – medieval England.

There’s some type of event going on in an arena, where a challenger with an axe is preparing to face the reigning champion, the “Magician”.  It’s revealed that the Magician is none other than the Doctor (shocker!), and he rides in on a tank and playing an electric guitar.  

The Doctor gives a rambling speech, as the Doctor generally does, and when he notices Clara and Missy, he calls them down into the arena and introduces them to the crowd.  In the middle of this, the snake guy from earlier in the episode shows up and demands that the Doctor come with him to see Davros.  Initially the Doctor refuses, but the snake guy threatens the lives of the people there, so the Doctor agrees to go as long as no one gets hurt.  Against the Doctor’s wishes, Missy and Clara volunteer to be taken captive as well, so the snake guy takes them too.

It’s revealed that the arena challenger with the axe had been converted into one of the humanoid disguises for the the Daleks, and he finds the TARDIS, which the Daleks then confiscate.

The Doctor, Missy, and Clara get taken to a space station/hospital type place, because apparently Davros is dying.  The snake guy drops Missy and Clara off in a prison cell area and takes the Doctor to see Davros.

While the Doctor and Davros are chatting about life, mortality, philosophy and generally catching up like old friends, Missy realizes that they’re not on a space station, but on a planet instead.  She opens the door and her and Clara walk out into what seems like empty space, but as they adjust to their surroundings it becomes clear that Missy is correct, and they are on a planet, but not just any planet – Skaro, the planet of the Daleks, believed to have been destroyed.  Missy is surprised, and for the first time, seems a little horrified by this, and the Doctor, who has been viewing this with Davros, is even more horrified.

The Doctor and Davros continue to watch as Missy and Clara are recaptured by the Daleks, and brought into a room where they are keeping the TARDIS.  Missy tries to make a deal with the Daleks, telling them she can help them use the TARDIS to go through time and space to carry out their agenda of mass extermination.  However, the Daleks really don’t care about any of this and seemingly kill Missy.  Then Clara.  Then the TARDIS.

The episode ends back where it began – with little boy Davros in the field with the “hand mines”, with the Doctor reappearing.  Only this time, he has what appears to be a Dalek gun/cannon thing, with the apparent intention of “exterminating” Davros, before any of this ever happens.  What’s next?  We’ll find out next week!