Baptisms, the Death of an Icon, and a New Doctor…

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[NOTE: This was supposed to be posted yesterday, but I forgot to email it to me after work; sorry about the tardiness – Uncle NecRo]

I have just emerged from a rather surprisingly full weekend. I never plan these as such; they just happen to…well, happen. Mostly, though, it was the Sunday of the two days that fall under my Blessed Days Off from my Place of Enslavement Employment. I wasn’t really running around a lot, but there were some things that made my head swim a bit.

baptism church birthday

The first thing that happened on July 16th was the first ever Baptism Service at my church. This also functioned as part of the One Year Birthday of the formation of said church that I’ve been involved with since the split with my former church. Fifteen…or sixteen, I can’t recall exactly…souls were baptized in the Blair swimming pool as an outward expression of their faith in Christ Jesus. We had set up in the parking lot for the worship service; I set up near them, at the best place I could find that was in the shade. Then, of course, after a few minutes, the Daystar found its way through the shade and stabbed me in the eyeballs. No matter where I moved to, it found me. Gads. So, for a little while, through the worship singing portion, I had to endure the angry ball of fire’s rays, and hope not to burst into flames in front of everyone. That would have been embarrassing. Fortunately, the trees managed to obscure the sun once again, putting me in some shade by the time the sermon came about. Fortunately, it was a truncated 15-minute sermon, so that it could include the baptisms. The sermon’s message in keeping with the event. Everyone was baptized, then it was time for the birthday celebration by way of a massive grillout potluck picnic, with a couple of bouncy castles set up for the kids. The heat of the day was getting redonkulous, with the heat index starting to soar as high as eagle. Weather sucking mighty buffalo. As such, I decided to forego the picnic lunch and the inevitable mingling that came with it (did I mention my anxiety level was starting to rise along with the heat? No? Huh…), and left as everyone was standing in line for their lunchy-munchy. I just picked up some drive-thru stuffs and headed back to the Haunted Victorian, ate my din-din and then settled in for a much-needed extended nap.

The thing about naps is, sooner or later you have to wake up from them. And so was the case with this one: I woke up, and had to once again exist in the “real world”. Eh, standard Sunday afternoon. Late afternoon. Okay, it was early evening. I sleep a bit more than your average individual. I think it may be hypersomnia due to my crippling depression issues. Either way, it was close to 6pm, and I wasn’t hungry yet due to the ginormous nature of the fast food item I consumed upon arriving back at the Haunted Victorian around 1-ish. So I fire up the Fun-Sized Lappy, summon the interwebs, and the first thing I am greeted with upon signing into my Facebook page is a news item that the legendary George A. Romero had passed away.

george a romero

For those of you sad, deprived individuals who don’t know who George A. Romero is, he is the man that helped to not only redefine the zombie horror genre to what we recognize as today with the release of Night Of The Living Dead in 1968 (undead ghouls who wander about and only want to eat your flesh and nummy brains…up until then, “zombies” were of the voodoo magick variety), he also inspired generations thereafter in the art of independent filmmaking. He made more than just a bunch of post-modern zombie flicks, and didn’t just stick to directing, either. Nor did his influence remain in movie making, as several novelists and artists cite him as a great influence in what they do.

As for me, Romero helped to rekindle my love for the horror genre as not only an entertainment outlet, but also as a genuine means of conveying a message in a subversive manner. I salute you, good sir; and should you once again rise from the grave, I shan’t forget to double-tap.

The next thing that grabbed my attention from my nap-induced haze that was slowly clearing off, was the official introduction of the next Doctor. At first, I thought it was one of those fake-outs that have been making the rounds, the ones made by fans and such. But, no, this was an official BBC release: The next Doctor on Doctor Who will be played by one Jodie Whittaker. So, after months of denying that the 13th Doctor was going to be a woman, they finally came out and said that, yes, the 13th Doctor is going to be a woman.

13th doctor

Up front, I have to say that I am completely on board with this. I’m intrigued with the possibilities with this new dynamic. Hopefully the writers won’t go the route of “Hey, I’m the Doctor, and now I’m a girl!” and really write some compelling yarns with the character. That said, there were two points of irritation that immediately hit me the moment I saw the announcement: first of all, they do this all the time, denying something’s gonna happen, and then it happens to be the very thing they’re denying. “It’s Missy in that vault, right?” “Nope, it’s something different.” Then it turns out it was Missy all along. Same thing here: “Nope, we’re not looking at a female actor to be the new Doctor.” I understand the need to play things close to the vest in these instances, especially with the show changing producers as well as lead characters, but this is the same thing the previous show runners did since the relaunch in 2005. I just can’t help but think my intelligence had been insulted a bit, is all.

The second thing that kind of irritated me about this, was that the reveal was so far in advance of the Christmas Special, where traditionally the regeneration into the next Doctor would take place in modern Who. More or less. Now…there’s really no surprise. I don’t know, and maybe I’m in the minority here, but I should think something as momentous as this would call for secrecy until the actual Christmas Special. I realize that trying to keep a lid on this in this day and age of instant news leakage is nigh impossible at times, but think about the impact that could have happened when, finally, Peter Capaldi’s Doctor–my favorite one thus far of the “New” Doctors–dramatically regenerates and finally emerges as the Jodie Whittaker Doctor…then end credits. Boo-ya. Chills, mouths agape, multiple cries of “WHAT THE [expletive deleted]….?!?” Now…we will never have that moment. Spoilers and all that. Oh, well.

Still, the upcoming Christmas Special will be awesome because it has the 12th Doctor and the 1st Doctor, together at last. I just squeed again. Cheers, all.

::END TRANSMISSION::

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Doctor Who Series 10 Brain Droppings

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doctor and bill

Soon, in less than a couple of weeks (premiering between Good Friday and Easter Sunday, as a matter of fact), we Whovians will finally have a new series (referred to as a “season” here in the States) of Doctor Who. To say the wait was a long one may be exaggerating a bit; lest we forget the Wilderness Years between the original cancellation of the show and the 1996 television movie, followed by another nine years until it was officially brought back in 2005 (not counting the brilliant 1999 special “The Curse of the Fatal Death”). A year and a half really wasn’t that much of a slog; besides, we had the two Christmas Specials to provide a break in the waiting. Not to mention all the books and radio dramas being produced.

Anyway, we are finally near the 10th Series of Doctor Who. This one purports to be the final one for Peter Capaldi’s 12th Doctor. Which is a pity, as I thoroughly enjoyed his take on the Time Lord, bringing to mind the best of the First, Third and Fourth Doctors, with a smattering of the Eighth, all while making it his own whimsical beast. I dare say, Capaldi’s Doctor had replaced Eccleston as my second-favorite Doctor.*

There’s a new companion for the Doctor as well, and it looks like, according to reports**, that there’s going to be a refreshing lack of romantic tension between the Doctor and the companion this time around. I understand the logic of getting some forced romantic tension to bring in the younger demographic (which also favors making the Doctor younger every time he regenerates), but in my not-so-humble opinion, the Doctor works best as an asexual character, and not having to rebuff his companion (or companions) while trying to save the world from whatever threat is besotting us this week. That’s part of the reason why, since the relaunch of Doctor Who, the companion of Donna Noble is listed high up as one of my favorite companions: she never fell for the Doctor. If anything, she was a much-needed foil to the Doctor’s ego. But, I digress.

The previews and teasers show promise. There seems to be a return of the classic Cybermen from the First Doctor serial “The Tenth Planet” (creepy), an obligatory Dalek episode, Missy pops up, and some kind of Emoji-based robot, I think? There’s also seems to be more inclusion of the character Nardole, which is awesome, as I think he plays off of the Doctor perfectly. Why not make him the companion? Because we need a female companion every time? I don’t know.

Anyway, the wait is almost over, and I anxiously await April 15th to see where the final adventures of the 12th Doctor brings us. Cheers, all.

* – Tom Baker is my all-time favorite, in case you were wondering. You’re welcome.
** – source

Book Review: DOCTOR WHO: The Doctor Trap

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Doctor-trapSimon Messingham
BBC Books
2008

Sebastiene was perhaps once human. He might look like a nineteenth-century nobleman, but in truth he is a ruthless hunter. He likes nothing more than luring difficult opposition to a planet, then hunting them down for sport. And now he’s caught them all–from Zargregs to Moogs, and even the odd Eternal. In fact, Sebastiene is after only one more prize. For this trophy, he knows he is going to need help. He’s brought together the finest hunters in the universe to play the most dangerous game for the deadliest quarry of them all. They are hunting for the last of the time Lords–the Doctor.

Here we are, with another story involving the Tenth iteration of The Doctor, along with the companion that had to take some time to grow on me: Donna Noble. This one, according to the oft-referenced TARDIS Wiki that I have wasted countless hours on in my free time, takes place some time after the events in “Planet of the Ood”, as that and “The Fires of Pompeii” were referenced. As one of the mass of Doctor Who novels I managed to purchase at Half Price Books on the eve of my 41st birthday, I finally got around to reading it a short time after, and now am getting around to the review a year later. Wacky.

In The Doctor Trap, The Doctor and Donna check out a distress signal originating from the South Pole. Turns out, there’s an excavation of some alien thingie, and if John Carpenter’s The Thing taught us anything, it’s that this kind of thing never ends well. While there, someone manages to steal the TARDIS, and the Doctor and Donna are tricked by a Doctor doppelganger (I just said that sentence out loud, and…gads…). They end up on the mysterious Planet 1, which is run by someone (or something) named Sebastiene, who has recently convened a group of intergalactic hunters to hunt the Most Dangerous Game in all the galaxy: The Doctor! The idea is to disperse the various hunters onto separate quadrants on the planet and given a chance to bag the Doctor at their respective areas. Turns out, though, there’s a super-fan of the Doctor that’s been genetically altered to look like the Tenth Doctor, who was the guy who kidnapped Donna and stole the TARDIS, leaving a transmat device for The Doctor to get to Planet 1 for the festivities. Of course, The Doctor has a plan…one that involves subterfuge, slight of hand, and of course, good ol’ fashioned Time Lord ingenuity. By the end, the twists and revelations will have you reaching for the aspirin bottle.

Overall, The Doctor Trap could have just been another reworking of “The Most Dangerous Game”, with The Doctor on a planet full of hunters gunning for the Last of the Time Lords. Which it is; but it’s written as kind of a Scoobie-Doo like mystery, if that’s the proper way to describe this. There were some good twists and turns, and even the villain of the piece received a bit of depth of character near the end, despite at first coming off as clich├ęd. Not a bad way to spend a few hours reading, methinks.

Book Review: DOCTOR WHO: Prisoner of the Daleks

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Prisoner_of_the_DaleksTrevor Baxendale
BBC Books
2009

The Daleks are advancing, their empire constantly expanding into Earth’s space. The Earth forces are resisting the Daleks in every way they can. But the battles rage across countless solar systems. And now the future of our galaxy hangs in the balance… The Doctor finds himself stranded on board a starship near the frontline with a group of ruthless bounty hunters. Earth Command will pay them for every Dalek they kill, every eye stalk they bring back as proof. With the Doctor’s help, the bounty hunters achieve the ultimate prize: a Dalek prisoner–intact, powerless, and ready for interrogation. But where the Daleks are involved, nothing is what it seems, and no one is safe. Before long the tables will be turned, and how will the Doctor survive when he becomes a prisoner of the Daleks?

Slowly getting through the long-overdue reviews of the massive stack of Doctor Who novels I picked up in one shot at the Half Price Books in my area, this one being yet another Tenth Doctor adventure, and featuring arguably the most popular Doctor Who villain ever created: The Daleks. Surprisingly, there’s not too many novels that actually feature the Daleks, but I guess that’s a good thing. Wouldn’t want to over-saturate this, would we? I’m looking at you, “Daleks In Manhattan/Evolution of the Daleks”. Anyway, on with the review…

In Prisoner of the Daleks, The Doctor (sans companion, putting this tale probably between Planet Of The Dead and The Waters Of Mars of the Gap Year Specials, according to the TARDIS Wiki) shows up on a seeming deserted site on the planet Hurala, where he’s locked inside the basement while exploring the computer data core. Five days later, a ship full of bounty hunters show up to refuel, and come across a tapping noise, which turns out to be The Doctor tapping out the SOS in Morse code with his spoon. After some investigating, it turns out that the computer system was set as a trap, and suddenly the place is attacked by Daleks. They escape, but not without seriously wounding one of the crew and having one of the Daleks gain access to the ship, exterminating said wounded crew member before being cryogenically frozen by The Doctor. Tensions mount, back stories are given, and the Doctor realizes that this encounter with the Daleks was before the Great Time War in the time line. After interrogating the captured Dalek, they set out to find the planet Arkheon, which lies on a schism in time and space that the Daleks are searching for to gain access to the Time Vortex. Only, when they arrive, they discover that the Daleks have been there for quite a while, using humans to dig for the Threshold at the planet’s core. Of course, due to the time line, the Daleks have unwittingly brought in The Doctor–the “Oncoming Storm” that he’ll be referred to as in a future time–and he manages to thwart their plans, but not without considerable losses. Also, things go “boom” and ends in a rather existential note.

Overall, Prisoner of the Daleks has the feel of a classic Terry Nation episode of Doctor Who that features the Daleks. We get a look at why the Daleks are quite the chilling foe to go up against, especially when you get to the part of how they set their guns in a way that shows exactly how sadistic they can be with exterminating non-Daleks. It’s a rather dark story that works in its favor, and by the time you get to the end, the happy seems a bit hollow. A very good Doctor Who yarn, when all is said and done.

Book Review: DOCTOR WHO: Ghosts of India

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doctor who ghosts of indiaMark Morris
BBC Books
2008

India in 1947 is a country in the grip of chaos–a country torn apart by internal strife. When the Doctor and Donna arrive in Calcutta, they are instantly swept up in violent events. Barely escaping with their lives, they discover that the city is rife with tales of ‘half-made men’, who roam the streets at night and steal people away. These creatures, it is said, are as white as salt and have only shadows where their eyes should be. With help from India’s greatest spiritual leader, Mohandas ‘Mahatma’ Gandhi, the Doctor and Donna set out to investigate these rumors. What is the real truth behind the ‘half-made men’? Why is Gandhi’s role in history under threat? And has an ancient, all-powerful god of destruction really come back to wreak his vengeance upon the Earth?

Here it is, the final Doctor Who novel that was purchased with that bundle of other Doctor Who novels that, for all intents and purposes, I did manage to read within a month…but have just now gotten around to reviewing them all, over a year later. Sometimes, it takes a while for something to fester and bubble in my brain…other times, things get lost in the busy shuffle that is living, I guess. But we’re not here to read my thoughts on that, are we? And if you were, then…um, I don’t know what to say about that. Anway…

Ghost of India find The Tenth Doctor and Donna arriving in Calcutta, India, in 1947, at a time of great upheaval. The Doctor thought he was arriving in 1937, you see, to eat at a fantastic restaurant he knows about. Only, now the restaurant is a charred husk, due to the rioting in the city. Also, there seems to be some kind of disease that’s causing people to become violently aggressive psychopaths. This might have something to do with a kind of alien entity that has taken up residence inside an abandoned temple in the form of Shiva. The Doctor and Donna team up with a young altruistic doctor (lower-case “d” in this instance) and some guy named Gandhi team up to check out what may be going on. Turns out things are a bit more dire than just a socio-political uprising. Think “alien abduction on a grand scale.”

As historical fiction goes, Ghosts of India wasn’t too bad. I’m not much with the British occupation of India (or any other country that’s not under British control, for that matter…’Merica), and I only know of Gandhi because…well, who hasn’t heard of Gandhi? He’s kind of a cultural icon, regardless of whether you’ve studied his life and philosophies or not. 1947 Calcutta does work well for the backdrop for the overall mystery surrounding the weird disease and alien invasion plot. Again, a serviceable Doctor Who novel, perfect for killing off a few hours.

Book Review: DOCTOR WHO: Autonomy

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DOCTOR WHO: AutonomyDaniel Blythe
BBC Books
2009

Hyperville is 2013’s top hi-tech 24-hour entertainment complex–a sprawling palace of fun under one massive roof. You can go shopping, or experience the excitement of Doom Castle, Winter Zone, or Wild West World. But things are about to get a lot more exciting–and dangerous… What unspeakable horror is lurking on Level Zero of Hyperville? And what will happen when the entire complex goes over to Central Computer Control? For years, the Nestene Consciousness has been waiting and planning, recovering from its wounds. But now it’s ready, and it’s deadly plastic Autons are already in place around the complex. Now more than ever, visiting Hyperville will be an unforgettable experience…

As Doctor Who villains go, I’d have to say that the Autons would fall under the “mildly interesting” category for me. Extraterrestrial living plastic that take the form mostly of store-front dummies (“mannequins” if you want to argue the point) and are animated by something called the Nestene Consciousness, which may or may not be an offshoot of Shub-Niggurath from the Cthulhu mythos. Sure, their hands pop open to reveal guns built in, and their creepy factor is straight out of the Uncanny Valley, but a favorite of mine these are not.

That said, that is probably one of the reasons I didn’t really get into this particular Tenth Doctor novel. Set in kind of a Super-Mall that was opened in 2013 (I can’t recall that ever being in the news, you’d think I would have heard about it by now…*cough*) and features, not only every conceivable place to shop for stuff, but also a vast array of entertainment rides and amusements, which you can access any time of day, as it is also open 24 hours. All sorts of high-tech gadgetry and security…which makes it the perfect setting for an Auton outbreak, really. Confined space, everyone panicking, the tech shorting out and all. Of course, the Doctor shows up–sans companion–and stumbles upon the wackiness that is about to be set into motion on the unsuspecting shoppers. And there’s the one-shot “companion” in the form of a bright young intern learning the inner workings of the business side of the biggest mall in the world…who may or may not be investigating something else.

Overall, Autonomy was a decent enough distraction from reality for a few hours. It’s your standard mass-market Doctor Who yarn, a stand-alone that doesn’t really further much of the mythos beyond being action-packed sci-fi mystery with a few timey-wimey twists and turns thrown in for flavoring. You probably won’t miss much by skipping this one, but in my OCD-fueled never-ending quest to READ THEM ALL!, if I find it I must read it. And then review it.

I really have no proper way to end this review, it looks. Overall, then, it wasn’t dull, but not very memorable.

Book Review: DOCTOR WHO: The Dalek Generation

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The_Dalek_GenerationNicholas Briggs
Broadway Paperbacks
2013

Sunlight 349 is one of the countless Dalek Foundation worlds, planets created to house billions suffering from economic hardship. The Doctor arrives at Sunlight 249, suspicious of any world where the Daleks are apparently a force for good–and determined to find out the truth. The Doctor knows they have a far more sinister plan–but how can he convince those who have lived under the benevolence of the Daleks for a generation? But convince them he must, and soon. For on another Foundation planet, archaeologists have unearthed the most dangerous technology in the universe…

On the surface, The Dalek Generation seems to be your typical, cut-and-dried sci-fi mystery thriller featuring the Eleventh Doctor (sans companion) checking out some kind of nefarious plot by the Daleks. But, it’s a bit more involved than that, really.

After a prologue that sets the stage of mystery and intrigue with the Daleks, we then find the Doctor traveling about in the TARDIS, when he receives a small hypercube. Thinking this was a message he sent to himself from the future, he arrives on a planet where a funeral is being held, when he gets some rather bad vibes. He’s then called to a distress signal, where he’s knocked off of course and arrives a bit late to save the parents of the three children he finds on there. Also, everyone thinks the Daleks are forces for good, and not evil as the Doctor keeps trying to drill into everyone’s heads. The children are taken into custody, the Doctor tries to rescue them and attempts to start a revolution against the Dalek occupation, which fails due to everyone thinking it’s a stunt put on by a popular television show How Nice Is Your Brain, and the entire story accumulates in the discovery of the Time Controller Dalek that’s spinning a mass conspiracy to bring about a bunch of Skaros, only to be thwarted by a prisoner with massive mental abilities.

Overall, The Dalek Generation is one of the more interesting tales in the collection of Doctor Who novels. We already know the Daleks are up to something, but getting to just what it is is part of the journey here. The Time Controller is an interesting addition to the Dalek hierarchy. Bottom line, a decent and intriguing story in the Doctor Who-verse.

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