Category Archives: Review

Bill – the Doctor’s New Companion (and an episode review of ‘The Pilot’)

SPOILERS SWEETIE!

Pearl-Mackie-Bill-Potts-Doctor-Who

Pearl Mackie plays Bill Potts, the Doctor’s new Companion.

I like Bill. She is her own woman, and she will NEVER fall in love with the Doctor. She likes him for himself, even when she finds out he is an alien. Pearl Mackie seems to have hit the right note and is off and running as the new Companion. Did you little nod to Ace, in the sense that the Doctor is her Professor? She reminds me of Ace in that she is a fighter, and not a screamer or a whiner.

Throwing the book

There are a few reasons Bill reminds of Ace. When we first meet Ace, she is a waitress. The Seventh Doctor took a special interest in Ace’s education, and Twelve has shown a similar interest in Bill’s education. There was an ongoing rumour that Ace was a lesbian (her relationship with Karra), which an overt part of Bill’s characterization. Ace favoured jackets with patches, and so does Bill. Like Ace, Bill isn’t overawed by the Doctor, with my favourite quote  from this episode being,  “You run like a penguin with its arse on fire.”

Ace

Ace, the Last Companion in the original series.

Bill aside, I was very taken with the Doctor’s study, and the photos on his desk in particular.

Dear, darling River and his granddaughter, Susan, featured prominently on the desk. For me, seeing those photos was a high-point of the episode, as it showed who was still important to this Doctor’s hearts (two photos for two hearts, geddit?). Oh, what I wouldn’t give to have an day or three exploring the contents of that study. What are the books on those shelves? What are the knickknacks – and their significance? Why the stuffed owl? It is an owl or an alien?

 

Bill and Helen

Bill and Heather

I’m sorry if the plot of the episode seems incidental to meeting Bill and seeing the study. It was a basic ‘monster of the week’ story, with several huge plot-holes. What kind of civilised beings use a conscious fuel for their spaceships? And – for a man who knows the universe – how did the Doctor know so little about the fuel (or those aliens)?

Seriously … Daleks? I couldn’t really see any proper reason for the inclusion of the Daleks.

I did sorry for poor Heather. Incidentally, I have found out that William (Bill) Hartnell’s wife was Heather McIntyre. We all know there is never any coincidences in Doctor Who, so I am sure those names were deliberate choices.

A new Doctor Who episode …AT LAST! I hope Nardole gets the chance to do a little more snarking in the next episode. And I want a macaroon dispenser.

Twelve

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Filed under Companion, Doctor Who, Pop Culture, Review, Uncategorized

A Lady Mechanika Review by Literature for the Masses

Lady Mechanika, Vol. 1: the Mystery of Mechanical Corpse by Joe Benitez brings back the unique and incredibly well written tale of everyone’s favorite Victorian England Steampunk hero. Beautifully illustrated, this collection is sure to create another generation of fans to join the cult following Lady Mechanika already enjoys. She is Lady Mechanika, the […]

via Lady Mechanika, Vol 1: The Mystery of the Mechanical Corpse — Comic Books – Literature For the Masses

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Lisa Mantchev Book Review

I will start out by saying that this isn’t usually the type of novel that I would pick to read. For starters, the very first chapter really bored me and made it to where I kept putting it off. Secondly, I can’t get a good feel on what genre this novel would/could be classified as. […]

via Ticker By Lisa Mantchev — Blackhearted Book Reviews

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Filed under Book Review, Review, Steampunk Genre, Uncategorized

Monstress Review

The more exposure I have to graphic novels, the more appreciative I am of them. There is something quite beautiful in the way that graphic novels portray a story; you can tell that a lot of effort has gone into creating the perfect illustrations to go along with the plot itself. There are some stories […]

via Monstress: The Awakening by Marjorie M. Liu — My Reading List

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Narrators and Point of View

the-remains-of-the-say

This blog is an assessment of the main character and narrator, Stevens, in Kazuo Ishiguro’s Remains of the Day.  This book could be classified as a romance, as one of the central plots revolves around the unsuccessful relationship of Stevens to the housekeeper, Miss Kenton.  Kazuo Ishiguro dictates this tale from the point of view of Stevens, an anal retentive who need to do the ‘proper’ thing, rather than the right thing, in emotional situations.  He is the naïve, internal narrator, an emotional outsider by choice; he is unreliable because of his single point of view and limited experience.  He alienates both the reader and his love interest, Miss Kenton.

There is a good definition of Narrative Point of View at http://www.brocku.ca/english/courses/2F55/pt_of_view.html : “The ‘meaning’ of a story is determined by a number of factors. One of the main factors is the matter of who is telling the story, and how. There are many ‘positions’ or ‘perspectives’ or ‘points of view’ from which a story can be told. By ‘point of view’ we generally mean two somewhat different things:

1) the relation of the narrator to the action of the story — whether the narrator is, for instance, a character in the story, or a voice outside of the story;

2) the relation of the narrator to the issues and the characters that the story involves — whether the narrator is sympathetic, whether she agrees supports of opposes a particular cultural practice or doctrine, that sort of question.”

Using this definition as a starting point, we can examine the careful construction of Stevens’ narrative point of view.  The narration in Remains of the Day becomes part of the characterisation of Stevens.

Distance: Stevens, as the first person narrator, was very close to the story he was telling.  It might have sounded like he wanted to be emotionally distant, but he wasn’t the omniscient voice that he hoped to be.  I thought this was a magnificent piece of characterisation, making a cold person so likable.  Steven’s vocabulary was very British and Proper, as suited his position as a butler of an upper-crust establishment.  His culture provided the emotional distancing from his personal events…but the author has still managed to keep Stevens’ involvement in events immediate and personal.

Interest: Of course, as Stevens is telling his own story, his interest wasn’t impartial, just reserved.  The reserve was part of his characterisation.  There were times when his reserve was obviously just a veneer, such as when his father died.

Sympathy:  As Stevens was telling his own history, he was very sympathetic to his own decisions and actions.  He was more judgemental of the other characters, as they are all seen through his own eyes and from his own POV.

Voice: The voice for this novel was vitally important, as it played a major role in the storytelling.  It was the reserved ‘voice’ of a very proper and correct Englishman.  It was a prim, emotionally repressed voice, loyal to his employer and aware of the dignity of his profession above anything else.  It was his role as butler that affected his attitude to all the other characters in the novel.

Orientation: The main theme of the novel was Steven’s pride in his career as a butler, to the point he became a mannequin and stopped being a human being.

Sense of Audience: The author was implying that Stevens’ audience was himself.  He was trying to justify his actions, and convince himself that he had always done the right thing, and kept his dignity even if he was unhappy.  He wasn’t addressing the reader or an audience as such.

 

The narrative point of view is a vital element in the construction of a novel, giving the text its style and contributing to the perception of the characters’ personalities. Stevens’ narration, in Remains of the Day, creates conflict by asking himself rhetorical questions and answering them himself, and this highlights how an interior narrator can still incorporate a responses and counter-arguments, without contradicting the character’s personality construct.  By the end of the story, Stevens’ persona has gone from confident and phlegmatic to regretful, nostalgic and melancholic, and the narrative point of view has paralleled this character change.  This way, Kazuo Ishiguro leads both the reader and the novel though to its pensive conclusion.

 

It can’t be a romance…there is no happy ending got Stevens and Miss Kenton.

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The Doctor Who Christmas Special 2016

first-look-at-the-doctor-who-christmas-special

Finally! A new Doctor Who episode and it was everything I had hoped for. Be aware, SPOILERS SWEETIE! Please watch the episode before reading this review, or I can’t be held responsible to ruining some great moments.

the-return-of-doctor-mysterio-promo-cast-image

The Christmas episodes are usually in a category by themselves, and The Return of Doctor Mysterio was no exception. I was particularly impressed with the way the writers linked this episode to The Husbands of River Song, and the perfection of the casting choices. And – again – London was in danger of an alien invasion and yet didn’t TURN UP on screen. Instead, the setting was New York.

For a comic book themed episode, New York is the perfect choice. It is an open secret that New York was and is the main inspiration of the Metropolis of the Superman comics. As well, it was the setting for the Watchmen graphic novel written by the famed comics writer, Alan Moore, illustrated by artist, Dave Gibbons, and given life by the colourist, John Higgins. Both these comics heavily influenced the look, the plot, and the story line of  The Return of Doctor Mysterio. 

pk-mysterio-preview

The Ghost, who has Superman’s powers, but his costume resembles a modernistic Batman. In personality, he reminds me of Nite Owl from Watchmen, well meaning and trying to do the right thing. He does have the classic comic book characteristic of unrequited love for Lucy.

My favourite bits were the interaction between the Doctor and Nardole. Matt Lucas is a genius when it comes to making likeable characters out of unpromising material. Nardole, originally as a character, was rather sweet and clueless, but he has grown into a lovely person with a real fondness for the Doctor. His best line: Yes, yes, go save the planet. You always do that when the conversation turns serious. I may be misquoting this, but that is the general gist of Nardole’s comment. He isn’t clueless so much as single minded. As a companion, he is probably the best ever at understanding who the Doctor really is and what his motivations are.

sushi

Lucy, our intrepid girl reporter, is more than the vapid love interest – though she does end up in need of rescue. She is less a damsel, and much more a dragon lady. And she is a single mother, happy to leave her child with a male nanny.  She has the Doctor dancing to her tune by the middle of the episode. 

However, I also enjoyed the Doctor eating sushi while spying on the alien invaders. (As a big fan of sushi myself.) The humour in seeing the Doctor snacking it what should have been a serious and tense moment was physical humour at its best in Doctor Who. There were many moments of both physical humour and witty dialogue, as it should be in a Christmas episode.

This episode did a fine job of deconstructing the stereotype of the comic book superhero, as well as adding a wistful epilogue to the previous Christmas episode. My husband didn’t like this episode, but he didn’t read comic books as a child and doesn’t particularly enjoy graphic novels (Nobody is perfect). As a fan of both comics and Doctor Who, I enjoyed this episode both intellectually and it was satisfying emotionally. You can’t ask for more than that!

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Some Thoughts About the Sexuality of Time Lords

Spoilers Sweetie!

“I think I’m going to need a bigger flow chart.”

– the Doctor in The Husbands of River Song.

The reboot of Doctor Who has never been shy about sexuality or gender issues. The Doctor loved Rose. Captain Jack was unashamedly pansexual – he is attracted to everyone, and this makes him very attractive in return. Shakespeare was portrayed as being bisexual. Clara had a romantic relationship with the Late Georgian/Regency author Jane Austen – Jane was a ‘phenomenal kisser’ and they played pranks on one another. The newly married Ponds were happy to don dress-ups as part of their sex play. The Husbands of River Song gave us an insight into the sexuality of both River and the Doctor – far more so than the Master/Missy interactions of the past two seasons.

You can’t tell me that that isn’t a lascivious look.

At one point, River lists Doctor’s other wives (that we know of). River mentions Elizabeth I, Marilyn Monroe, whose marriage proposal he accidentally accepted whilst at a party in A Christmas Carol, another Christmas special, and Cleopatra, who River posed as in The Pandorica Opens. They both have been married to Stephen Fry (lucky Stevie!). And River makes mention of her wives. Time Lords (and River has Time Lord DNA) must have a fluid gender identity and sexuality.

I know a few people who have a problem with this concept. In the old series, the Doctor was asexual, except for the First Doctor who MUST have experienced some form of sexual reproduction to have a granddaughter. But the beauty of a long running series is that you can allow your characters to change and grow. We knew the Doctor was changed when he developed his deep emotional bond with Rose. Surviving  a war and the genocide of your species might have that effect.

Time Lords might resemble human beings, but there is no reason why they have to share the same human obsession with sexuality and genders. To me, what is much more important is that they love each other in the same way as we human beings love each other. Love defies barriers and defines us. River might be looking forward to seeing the Doctor’s new incarnation all over, but it isn’t the sex that defines their relationship. It is the love.

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Filed under Doctor Who, Gender and Sexuality, Review, Uncategorized