Matt Smith Stepping Down from Doctor Who

2 06 2013
matt-smith-doctor-who-bow-tie

Matt Smith in costume as the 11th incarnation of the Doctor. Copyright BBC Worldwide.

It was announced yesterday that Matt Smith will be stepping down from Doctor Who in December.

The 11th incarnation of the famous time traveling alien will appear in the much anticipated 50th Anniversary Special, which will air on Nov. 23, 2013, and then regenerate in the 2013 Christmas Special into an as-of-yet-unnamed 12th incarnation.

Smith, 30, joined the show in 2010, taking over the reigns from David Tennant who portayed the much loved 10th incarnation of the Doctor. I was, at first, unsure of whether Smith was the right fit for the role or not, having been a huge Tennant fan; however, Smith grew on me, like I think he did for many other fans of the show, and I will be sad to see him depart the role.

On his departure, Smith said, “”Doctor Who has been the most brilliant experience for me as an actor and a bloke, and that largely is down to the cast, crew and fans of the show…It’s been an honour to play this part, to follow the legacy of brilliant actors, and helm the TARDIS for a spell with ‘the ginger, the nose and the impossible one’. But when ya gotta go, ya gotta go and Trenzalore calls. Thank you guys. Matt.”

It is always a bittersweet moment at the announcement that one actor will step down and a new will arise as the Doctor. Speculation as to whom will take over the role has already lit up the interwebs with much emphasis on the possibility of an African-American or female actor/actress being a potential replacement.

I am by no means a sexist, but I will be honest that the idea of a female Doctor doesn’t seem right to me. Yes, Time Lords regenerate into different appearances and personalities, but this late the game, a gender switch seems like it would not be good for the story. The ethnicity change I could see as being an interesting twist, however, given that all 11 incarnations of the Doctor to date have been Caucasian males.

But, whatever the future holds for The Doctor, I’ll be tuning in and trust that the showrunners will make a good decision on whomever they decide to go with, male or female. With a heavy heart I will prepare to bid the 11th farewell, but with open arms look forward to welcoming the 12th with my viewership!

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The Five Coolest Time Machines in Movies and Television

16 07 2012

Since I’ve gotten my first light weekend in nearly two months, I figured I would post a bit more extensive an entry than the norm.  One of my favorite plot motivators is the concept of time travel.  I think almost anyone can garner some form of fascination with the idea of either moving forward on your personal timeline, or backwards; whether it is to see what happens to yourself, to change a regret from the past, or witness an historic event of some sort, time travel is just plain cool.  Over the years, there have been literally hundreds of movies, television series and television episodes that have dealt with the idea or process of time travel, and alternatively, there have been dozens of different ways, machines and methods in which to perpetuate this quantum phenomena.  So, because of such, I’ve decided to post an entry of my personal top 5 favorite methods of time travel in the movies and television:

5. THE NECRONOMICON (Army of Darkness – 1992)

What’s not to love about an ancient book that is steeped in Lovecraftian pseudo-horror culture?  An essential part of the entire Evil Dead series, this ancient book unleashes loads of troubles for the primary character, Ash, over three films.  In the third, however, it not only gives him a ridiculously fun to watch run-for-his-money, but also transports him back to medieval England where he gets to fight skeleton soldiers, demon knights and other creepy/silly abomonations.

Out of the entirety of this list, I have to say that this is probably the one most of us would be happy to not come across.  Though, as kids, many dream of finding some old book or relic in our grandparent’s attic that might have some kind of mystical power, this is most definitely not the book we would want to come across.  Traveling to medieval England sounds pretty cool, but fighting skeleton armies and demon knights does not….well, unless I get the chainsaw arm, then maybe…as long as I can still play guitar.

4. A TIME TURNER (from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – 2004

For a movie, and novel before that, that revolves around a magical school of witchcraft and wizardry, it was only fitting to have a device that could manipulate time at some point in the series.  The Time Turner, a relic that resembled an hourglass on a necklace, could travel back in time a short distance corresponding to the number of times it was turned.  Though only for going back in time a mere few hours, this device played a major role in the ending plot of the third Harry Potter movie/novel.  Given to Hermione Granger by Professor McGonagall, Harry and Hermione use the device to rescue a magical beast, Buckbeak, before his untimely demise which had already happened by the time the device is used.  This device also signifies a realization of Harry’s that awakens a power from deep within, a scene which is one of my all-time favorites in the entire Harry Potter series (of which, of course, I am a megafan and not afraid to admit it).

Though the device can only go back a few hours in time, on a lot of occasions, that would be all you need!  Imagine how many things you could change if you could just buy an hour or two back to slightly change your actions, decisions or direction.  How easy all those careless mistakes would be to change in the blink of an eye! (or turn of a weird looking necklace…)

3. THE TIME MACHINE (from The Time Machine – 1960)

Did you really expect me not to include this one on the list?  Based on the H.G. Wells classic, this is the standard for which all other time machines were founded.  Over the years, there have been many adaptations of Wells’s classic science-fiction novel; however, it is generally accepted that this one by director George Pal stands a head above the rest.  Rod Taylor plays the eponymous Time Traveller and the device itself is everything you would imagine a time machine to be, a strange looking car-like chair with a whirly gong-thing on the back.  Well, anyway, it looks like a vehicle and it has those strange additions which have come commonplace in time travel narratives attached.  A classic example, and the basis of nearly all those to come; however, not the coolest one!

2. DOC BROWN’S DELOREAN (from Back to the Future – 1985)

A DeLorean could very well be called one of the ugliest cars in existence, but there was just something so damned cool about them!  I don’t know whether it was the stainless steel exterior, the space age like black leather interior with funny looking knobs all over the place, or the iconic gullwing doors, but anytime I’ve ever crossed one, I couldn’t help but stop and stare.

When Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale were considering what the time traveling device in their new script should be way back in 1984, they decided to find something that would appear futuristic to people of 1955, where the back-in-time narrative takes place.  They decided on the DeLorean DMC-12, and I couldn’t agree more, people in 1955 would have surely thought it from another planet.  Powered by a central processing device known as the flux capacitor, this baby ate plutonium for fuel and whizzed through time at precisely 88 miles per hour.  If I could figure out the conversion kit on an old DMC-12 to install a flux capacitor and time controls, you better believe there would be one in my garage.  As Doc Brown said in the first installment, “If you are going to travel through time, you might as well do it in style!”

1. TARDIS (from Doctor Who – 1963-1989, 2005-present)

Ah, the TARDIS, the constant companion to the Doctor.  Standing for Time And Relative Dimension In Space, the TARDIS is a Galifreyan (the Doctor’s home planet) time traveling device that could cloak itself to be literally anything for cover; unfortunately, it got stuck as a 1960s London police box.

Over time, the Doctor learned to love it’s constant shielding, and the TARDIS has remained stuck on that exterior setting ever since.  I don’t think anything could be more quirky, fun or insanely silly to travel through time and space in, but when you get right down to it, it is very, very cool.  Bigger on the inside than the outside, the TARDIS has seemingly endless rooms and compartments that contain seemingly endless items and relics within.  It’s built like a tank, has a killer coat of blue on the outside and can translate any language in the galaxy for you just by being close by!  If any of you have known what it is like to love a car or boat, it could only pale in comparison to the Doctor’s love of the TARDIS.  And, after enough episodes, you start to love it to, which makes it the list topper of my all-time coolest time machines in the movies and television!

*I didn’t forget Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, but they paid homage to the TARDIS, so the TARDIS wins out.





Casanova (2005) Review

21 06 2012

Copyright 2005 BBC

★ ★ ★

OK, so I’ll be honest from the get go.  The only reason I watched this was because it had two of my favorite actors in it: Peter O’ Toole and David Tennant (10th Doctor!).  Furthermore, it was written and produced by Russell T. Davies, who was the head writer and show starter for the 2005 reboot of Doctor Who.  Davies and Tennant’s working relationship actually began on this picture.

I’m sure most people are at least generally aware of who Giacomo Casanova was, if for nothing more than the fact that his name is a common term for lotharios the world over.  Well, this movie is a loose adaptation of his life, pulling many overall generalized points from the history books, but embellishing them extensively for entertainment purposes.  The narrative switches back and forth between old Casanova (Peter O’ Toole), who now serves as a librarian for an Italian nobleman, and young Casanova (David Tennant) as he makes his way in the world.  A lonely chambermaid makes fast friends with the older Casanova, who has just finished writing his life’s tale.  During her innocent stays in his chambers, he recounts the many adventures and loves found and lost during his lifetime, with a primary focus on one elusive woman: Henriette (Rose Byrne).  Through the back and forth of the narrative, the life of Casanova is presented in only a way Russell T. Davies could come up with (i.e. extravagantly and at many times flamboyantly).

The “series” encompasses two one and a half hour segments, so it’s not really a movie, but not quite a mini-series.  I really enjoyed the first segment and thought there were some very entertaining scenes, but the second installation was a bit of a let down and I found myself growing bored by the end.  The fun of this film only seems to last so long, though the performances by O’ Toole and Tennant are a treat to watch.  However, I may err on the side of caution here because I am biased, so I would even hesitate to give too much credit in that regard.

In short, a fun and exciting television “mini-series” that starts strong, but fizzles out some towards the end.  If you are a Tennant or O’ Toole fan, I think you would have a greater chance of enjoying this sometimes disjointed flick, but even those who are not may find some interest here.





Golden Globes!

16 01 2012

So, last night was the Golden Globes Awards presentation, likely the second most prestigious awards show and a usual pre-cursor and foreshadower of what usually occurs at the Oscars ceremony a couple months later.  I have to be completely honest here, I missed the show; however, I did have a good reason, as I spent the entire weekend moving into my new house.  This morning, I’m mentally and physically exhausted, compounded by lack of sleep due to an anxious dog and two anxious cats in a new place, but I still want to take a brief moment to recap the wins.  Being that I’ve been in the moving process for the past couple weeks, I’ve failed to see as many of the top contenders as would have hoped.  Now that I’m a little more settled, I’ll be catching up in time for the Oscars, so come back soon when I can have a more formulated opinion.  Anyway, here is the entire list of winners from last night’s ceremony:

Best Drama
The Descendants

Best Comedy/Musical
The Artist

Best Animated Film
The Adventures of TinTin

Best Actor in a Drama
George Clooney, The Descendants

Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical
Jean Dujardin, The Artist

Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture
Christopher Plummer, Beginners

Best Actress in a Drama
Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady

Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy
Michelle Williams, My Week with Marilyn

Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture
Octavia Spencer, The Help

Best Director

Martin Scorsese, Hugo

Best Screenplay
Midnight in Paris, Woody Allen

Best Score – Motion Picture
The Artist – Ludovic Bource

Best Original Song – Motion Picture
“Masterpiece” – Madonna

Best Foreign Language Film
A Separation, Iran

Cecil B. Demille Award
Morgan Freeman

Television

Best TV Comedy or Musical
Modern Family

Best Television Series – Drama
Homeland

Best Mini-Series
Downton Abbey

Best Actor in a TV Drama
Kelsey Grammer, Boss

Best Actor in a TV Musical or Comedy
Matt LeBlanc, Episodes

Best Supporting Actor in TV Series, Mini-Series, or Made-for-TV Movie
Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones

Best Actress in a TV Drama
Claire Danes, Homeland

Best Actress in a TV Musical or Comedy
Laura Dern, Enlightened

Best Supporting Actress in TV Series, Mini-Series, or Made-for-TV Movie

Jessica Lange, American Horror Story

Best Actor in a TV Movie
Idris Elba, Luther

Best Actress in a TV Movie
Kate Winslet, Mildred Pierce

I’ll take a moment to comment where I can.  The two biggest films of the year, I’ve yet to see; one because of the moving, the other because it still hasn’t been released in my city yet.  Those two movies are The Descendants and The Artist.  The Artist is actually my most anticipated film of 2011, so I am ecstatic that it will be opening at the local indie theater this coming week.  I will likely see it and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy as a double feature this coming weekend.  I can’t wait!

Though I haven’t seen the film yet, I was very excited about its (The Artist) wins – it’s shaping up to possibly be the first silent film since 1929 to win a Best Picture Oscar.  Being a silent film aficionado, that’s music to my ears.  Maybe more silents will be hitting the modern cineplexes because of its success.  The next on the list I can comment on was for Best Supporting Actress for Octavia Spencer; I think this was definitely a deserved award for her incredible performance.  In my review of the film from a couple weeks ago, I made special note of her and Viola Davis’s wonderful performances.  Scorsese winning Best Director, but no Best Picture Comedy/Musical is a bit of a surprise, but I loved Hugo and his direction of the film was expertly handled, so this was a pleasant surprise as well.  Now, for my most pleasant surprise…Woody Allen winning Best Writing!  I haven’t written a ton about Allen on the blog, partly because I’ve seen all his films and most of the films I review here are recent watches.  However, Allen is in my top five favorite filmmakers of all-time, and to see him win so much recognition after nearly a decade of lackluster films, is a good feeling.  The only other win I can wholeheartedly support is Downton Abbey.  I’m currently working through the second series with an iTunes season pass.  So far, it’s been as good as series one, and that’s saying a lot.

Well, those are my views on what I feel I can comment on.  Hopefully, within the coming week or two I’ll have a chance to catch up on my film going and have a little more informed opinion on this year’s best films.  Stay tuned!





A New TV Addiction

24 10 2011

Copyright 2010 A&E Television Network

Growing up, my father took me to about every yard sale, thrift store, second-hand store, and garage sale you could imagine.  He has always been a collector and strong believer in “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”  When you grow up in that kind of environment, one of two things happens: you either embrace “junk” collecting, or you are repulsed by it.  My older brothers I would say tended to stray to the latter; however, me and my young brother have embraced the “treasure hunting” lifestyle.  So, when I found out about the shows Storage Wars and Auction Hunters, I was immediately intriqued.

Both shows carry, essentially, the same premise.  They do differ a little in exactly how they are presented, but both revolve around people who buy storage units at auction.  When a storage unit’s rental price has not been paid for three months, the facility has the legal ability to auction off the entire units’ contents in hopes of regaining some of the back rent.  At the auctions, the locks are cut off the unit and buyers are allowed to look at the contents from the threshold for a few minutes before bidding commences.  Buyers are not allowed to pilfer through the contents or step over the threshold.  Because of this, there can be many unknown treasures in these units; however, on the flip side, there could also just be dirty laundry and garbage inside.  It’s definitely a gamble, but fascinating to watch what these risk takers can find in some of these units.  From pinball machines to bobcats to jewelry to Picasso sketches, some of the things the stars of these shows find is mind boggling.

If you’ve ever had an affinity towards finding that one diamond in the rough, then you will probably enjoy these shows.  Maddie and I have burned through nearly every episode of both Auction Hunters and Storage Wars in the month or so since we started watching.  I’m so hooked, it’s making me want to save up and get out to some auctions soon!  Who knows what could be found, or how much money could be lost on the bid.  Like all risks, the most fun seems to be in the thrill of the chase.





Doctor Who is Pushing 50

12 10 2011

Copyright BBC

Article first published as Looking Forward to Doctor Who Turning 50 on Blogcritics.

Just over a week ago, the sixth series (or 32nd, depending on how you look at it) of Doctor Who wrapped up with the incredible episode The Wedding of River Song, posing the series-long question, “Doctor Who?”

For those of you not in the know, the original series began in 1963 with William Hartnell as Doctor numero uno and was on the air through six other Doctors until its cancellation in 1989.  Following a 1996 television movie with eighth Doctor Paul McGann, the series was rebooted by Russell T. Davies in 2005 and continues to this day on the BBC, currently in the eleventh “incarnation” of the Doctor, a now 900-something year old alien who travels through time and space in a machine guised as a police box.

Since the series six finale, the Doctor and companions will be off the air until the 2011 Christmas Special and then back in 2012 for a seventh series, continuing to star Matt Smith as the eleventh Doctor.  However, it will be the following season that I am interested in focusing on, as the series itself reaches its 50th Anniversary in early 2013.

All of the produced anniversary specials have centered around the Doctor crossing his own time stream, sometimes more than once, which results in a multi-Doctor episode, bringing back former actors who have played the lovable Time Lord.  The only two anniversary specials so far in the series were The Three Doctors in 1973 (with William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton and Jon Pertwee) and The Five Doctors (with Richard Hurndall sitting in for the deceased Hartnell, Troughton, Pertwee, Peter Davison and Tom Baker, kind of).  For what would have been the 30th and 40th anniversaries, the show was off the air unfortunately.

So, in short, odds are high that we will see another multi-Doctor episode, and that is some very exciting news for Who fans.  Everyone has their own ideas how the 50th Anniversary special should go, and I’m sure many, including myself, would love to see a return of David Tennant to the role for the special.  However, when really thinking hard on the subject, I come up with a storyline that wouldn’t include Tennant, but rather eighth and ninth Doctors Paul McGann and Christopher Eccleston.

When the series rebooted in 2005 with Eccleston, he had already regenerated from the eighth incarnation.  This is the only regeneration in the history of the series that we don’t actually see happen on screen or, at least, see the death of one and birth of the other.  Furthermore, it is alluded to constantly in the first few seasons that there was a Great Time War, in which the Time Lords and evil Daleks obliterated each other, leaving the Doctor as the “Last of the Time Lords.”

If I could sit down with Head Writer Steven Moffat, this is my pitch: have eleventh Doctor, Matt Smitth, recieve a distress signal from Eighth Doctor, Paul McGann, through the Time Locked war, similar to the bending out of universe phenomena in The Doctor’s Wife.  Realizing he will die and cut off his own time stream if he doesn’t go for help, the eleventh Doctor enters the final hours of the Great Time War.  The eighth Doctor explains what is happening on Gallifrey and the two must work together to obliterate the Dalek, and in turn, Time Lord races to save the universe.  In the end, however, the eighth Doctor doesn’t make it out alive, dying and regenerating into the ninth Doctor, Christopher Eccleston, where he travels to the beginning of his tenure and meeting Rose.

Not only would that create a multi-Doctor episode, but it would give Paul McGann the chance to portray his wonderful interpretation of the Doctor once more on screen in a more tightly written episode (as McGann’s only appearence was the mediocore Doctor Who Movie in 1996).  What would your dream 50th Anniversary episode of Doctor Who be?  Which former Doctors would you like to see return?





Very British and Very, Very Good: My Opinion of Downton Abbey

27 09 2011

Copyright 2011 Carnival Films, ITV and PBS

So, extremely British historically infused period pieces about Bourgeois prim and proper English folk is generally not my cup a tea (aren’t I being clever for throwing in this wonderfully British saying here); however, I have thoroughly enjoyed the first series of Downton Abbey.  My girlfriend and I finished the seventh and final episode last night before bed and I couldn’t be more excited about its continuation on television in the second series, which plans to land on US soil in January 2012 on PBS’s Masterpiece Classic.

I caught wind of this wonderful piece of television making after it swept the Primetime Emmys with four wins, including Best Miniseries.  Having never heard of the show before, I researched further online and found out that it centers around the wealthy, fictional Grantham family from the period of 1912-1914.  Still not being completely sold, I did give the pilot episode a chance.  I was hooked from the introductory steadicam stroll through the family’s country estate, in real life portrayed by the majestic Highclere Castle.  The interplay between the brilliant ensemble cast, sharp writing from Oscar winner Julian Fellowes and meticulously well-directed and well-shot film looks almost out of place for PBS.  Can PBS produce material this amazing?  Well, with the joint efforts of ITV and Carnival Films it apparently can.

The analysis of English social and class mores in the ever changing terrain of this period in the 20th century provides not only an entertaining, but also historically interesting, premise.  Each episode blends seamlessly in with the next and continues a deeply complex narrative that focuses on a wide array of colorful characters.  In short, Downton Abbey is classic storytelling and classical filmmaking at its best.  No matter your walk of life, I would recommend this show, and rest assured you could find something entertaining or enlightening.  I can’t wait to see where it goes from here and look forward to the hope of following the Grantham family and their butlers, valets and maids for many seasons to come.








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