Rewatch: Torchwood: Children of Earth. [Spoilers].

While the Doctor Who spin-off Torchwood did not really catch me, there was one season/event that did.

Living in Holland at the time I could watch BBC TV on the cable, and that means that I could catch the 5-day event that was Torchwood: Children of Earth.

5 episodes, each about one hour long, broadcast over 5 days, this strikes me as an excellent science fiction story.

Suddenly children all over the world simply stop for a while, and all saying “We are coming!” An older man also does that. A government official Mr Frobisher is ordered to handle the situation, and it turns out that something strange happened to the older man – he escaped an alien abduction back in 1965, but apparently the connection is still there.

When Torchwood is destroyed by a bomb Jack Harkness is blown to bits and the surviving members escape, but are hunted. The mystery deepens. Of course, Jack is immortal , so he survives anyway.

The children stop once more, saying “We are coming – tomorrow”. Later again: “We are here”

All the while the government builds a glass container for hosting the alien visitors – filled with poisonous gases – for humans, at least … and the hunt for Torchwood (and others) continues. The aliens “beam” down and negotiations begin. The aliens want 10% of the children from all over the Earth. Ouch! The government wants to negotiate, but the aliens refuse and threaten to destroy all human life on Earth..

From the older man we find out that the one bringing the children to the pick up point was none other than – Capt. Jack – at the order of the government agency – no wonder they wanted him (and Torchwood) out of the way.

In the end Capt. Jack resolves the problem with the aliens, but at great (personal) cost.

The children of Earth are saved.

During this rewatch I very much enjoyed the story telling and the acting, and I rate this excellent story 9/10.

Doctor Who Silurian story, Old and New

Having watched the first episode of the “new Who” Silurian story, “The Hungry Earth” I decided to take a look at the very first Silurian story, I happened to have it on DVD in the “Beneath the Surface” box set.

Now, when overcoming the rather poor technical quality (thank you very much BBC for deleting the tapes) and thus the poor video quality, this is a very good story.

The memory of my early Doctor Who (before the “new series” is mainly of Jon Pertwee, and I do recall to have seen some nice stories.

Early Who mostly has a lot of running through corridors etc (well, new Who does, too), chased by monsters. While looking monster-like, the Silurians are not really that much different in attitudes from humans, making them more interesting adversaries.

This is more so true of the escalating military part of the conflict, so well commented by the Doctor.

The end is rather sad, and perhaps that is reflected in “The Hungry Earth”, seeing the Doctor’s attitude towards the Silurians.

Review : Doctor Who : ‘Silence in the Library’/’Forest of the Dead’

From the beginning of the first new season I have always loved the episodes written by Steven Moffat, from ‘The Empty Child’/’The Doctor Dances’ over ‘The Girl in the Fireplace’ and the brilliant ‘Blink’ to this double episode. I am looking forward to see what he will bring to the series as show runner.

Like the other stories (when they were written) this story stands a bit by itself in the Doctor Who time line.

We find The Doctor and Donna arriving (in the 51th century) at a planet full of books. In essence it is a library of all known books, known just as The Library. Something is very wrong, since the library seems completely empty. Well, there are the books, but no people at all, just a cryptic computerized warning message ‘Count the Shadows !’ .

Another party arrives, with among others, a certain professor River Song who appears to have a past with The Doctor, in his future. It turns out she even knows the name of The Doctor, something unheard of in the series until now, of course not counting The Doctor posing as John Smith, clearly an alias.

The “monster” of this story is the invisible, but very deadly Vashta Nerada, residing in the shadows and being a kind of “piranhas of darkness”.

In the story we learn enough to know why the Vashta Nerada act like they do, and of course The Doctor, aided by professor Song saves the vast majority of the people trapped on the planet.

The Little girl, living an imaginary life, does raise the questions of “what is reality” when Doctor Moon tells her that the life she thinks of as her own is not real .

For me the story has the best of the elements creating a good Who adventure, a good “monster”, a mystery or two, some good characters accompanying the Doctor, etc.

This was my first choice in the category for the Hugo Awards 2009. ‘Dr Horrible’ won that one, and that is fine.

‘Spoilers !!’ (River Song)

9/10 on the Lurker’s scale

Review : Doctor Who : ‘Turn Left’

Hugo Nominee 2009 Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form.

This is Russell T. Davies’ writing at its best, aided by Graeme Harper’s directing. With all due respect for his team reviving Doctor Who Davies’ writing has not always been the best during the new Who era – probably due to the pressure of being the show runner.

While we have seen indications of inner strength in Donne Noble, this episode pulls all that to the fore. She has a little help from a friend she did not know she had : Rose. This is, for now, the culmination of the small glimpses we have had of Rose since the beginning of the season

The story finds Donna tricked into living a version of history where she did not meet the Doctor, and it is not a pretty picture. Guided by Rose from a different reality she finds her inner strength to change history back to what we know from the third season of the 10th Doctor.

The story has a good deal of fine drama, some fine character development of Donna, and a stunning conclusion, as a prelude to the two final episodes.

I consider this episode better than the two final ones, although I find those quite good as well.

This is certainly one of my favourites of the season, mainly rivaled by the double episode ‘Silence in the Library’/’Forest of the Dead’

9/10 on the lurker’s scale.

The Next Doctor DVD

Watching “The Next Doctor” DVD this week end.

“The Next Doctor” is not about the next Doctor, as one could have assumed from the title. I enjoyed most of it, but I think we have had enough of Cybermen (and Daleks, for that matter) in the last four years of Doctor Who. I do look forward to Steven Moffat taking over, since he has indicated that we will have less of the “old” enemies of The Doctor, and more new adventures.

I enjoyed the story quite a bit, even more so the extra, a one hour long recording from “Doctor Who at the Prom” with a nice show with Murray Gold’s music scores for the series, and appearances of a whole bunch of the “baddies” form the new series. It was a *lot* of fun seeing the reactions of the children in the audience, some of them just enjoying the show, and others looked like they wished there would be a sofa to hide behind.

7/10. on the Lurker’s scale

A Somewhat SciFi-ish holiday

I am now well back from my holidays, having celebrated Christmas and New Year with family and friends.

Apart from getting to see the people “back home” I and a needed restful day or two, I also got to see my oldest friend one I have known since 1969 – so this year will see our 40th anniversary of friendship. I spent some days there watching a fair amount of Scifi:

Jekyll :
A modern continuation, set in the present day, of the classic story by Robert Louis Stephenson. I liked it already, and the renewed viewing even improved on my impression. Link to a review from the earlier viewing.

Dr Who Season 4 :
A lovely season with rather good episodes, only “The Doctor’s Daughter” is a little weak, but not really bad. Reviews of single episodes will follow later.

Dr Who S1 The Beginning :
I recently got the box “The beginning” with the first Doctor, played by William Hartnell. We watched the first two stories of the series, “An unearthly Child” and the very first “Dalek” story. I am surprised how well written the stories are, nicely acted, the early Doctor Who has more of the “mystery sense” than the modern ones, even if the special effects are not up to modern standards. The story becomes more important than “big explosions” etc. More detailed reviews later.

Babylon 5 :
We remembered Majel Barrett Roddenberry by watching the episode “Point of No Return” where she plays Lady Morella, third wife of the late Emperor Turhan, and a seer. Wonderful performance from the “First Lady of Star Trek”.

Having seen that a few more of Season 3 episodes was what we wanted, so we ‘watches some selected ones finishing with “Z’Ha’Dum”. It is always good to rewatch Babylon 5, so a worthy way of finishing the visit (sort of a “2 person mini convention”)

Finally I found some time to be alone and read Kevin J. Anderson’s “Last Days of Krypton”. It is a good read, the disparate elements of the legend have been weaved well into a single story, linking The Phantom Zone, Jor-El’s science -experiments, the Jor-El and Lara story, General Zod and his companions, the folly of the Council, the fate of Kandor, and finally the fate of the planet Krypton itself. There is a nice surprise in what finally causes the destruction of Krypton.

Now for some more reading : I am a member of the Live Journal group hp_in_depth (Harry Potter), and we just started reading, two chapters per week, “The Goblet of Fire”, so I will be busy reading some evenings of the week.

The 11th Doctor will be announced tomorrow.

Tomorrow, in a special “Doctor Who Confidential” at 5.35 p.m. BST it will be announced who will take over from David Tennant as The Doctor after the specials in 2009, according to the BBC.

The Internet is abuzz with excitement – at least among Doctor Who fans.

I will be visiting a friend without Internet at the time of the announcement, I hope my mobile internet will work there – I am not going to guess – I leave that to others.

Doctor Who (new) Season 4 box set, Disc one

In the week end I have been rewatching the Children in Need special “Time Crash” and “Voyage of the Damned”.

“Time Crash” is a short special, in short the TARDIS runs Amok and the fifth Doctor (Peter Davison) appears. Quite fun and the “You were *my* Doctor” is a nice tribute.

One of the highlights in “Voyage of the Damned” for me was seeing, for the first time, Bernard Cribbins’ character Wilf – the alien hunter and amateur astronomer in the middle of a deserted London. A nice bit of continuity, even if that is not known at the first viewing, later we learn that he is Donna’s Grandpa. I generally enjoyed the story, even if it was not the greatest of Doctor Who.