Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Seventh Doctor Knew Fezzes Were Cool in 1988

As anyone who watched this past summer's Doctor Who episode "The Big Bang" can tell you, fezzes are cool.  At least, they became cool when Matt Smith's Eleventh Doctor plopped one on top of his head and declared them cool.  Oh, and he also carried a mop around for a while as well, which was somewhat less cool, but still made for an interesting look that Whovians can easily turn into cosplay at conventions all over the world.

So imagine my surprise when I recently noticed something while watching the DVD release of the 25th anniversary story "Silver Nemesis," which was transmitted way back in 1988, twenty-two years before "The Big Bang."  In the scene set inside the basement of Windsor Castle where Sylvester McCoy's Seventh Doctor tells his companion Ace that he is looking for a silver bow, he takes a playful moment to don a fez...and even holds up a mop for good measure.  Here, see for yourselves...

Freaky, hunh?  Obviously, I'm not the first to notice this, but you still have to wonder if current Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat did this as a very subtle but intentional homage or the image became embedded somewhere in his subconscious for decades and finally leaked out while he was writing "The Big Bang."  If anyone knows the real explanation for such a bizarre coincidence, preferably straight from Moffat himself, please pass it along.  I'm absolutely dying of curiosity.

Monday, December 27, 2010

DAMN Good Comic of the Week -- INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #33

Once again, Invincible Iron Man proves that it's by far one of the best superhero books on the stands today.  In the final ninth part of the "Stark Resilient" storyline, writer Matt Fraction and artist Salvador Larocca finally go all out with the various plot threads that have been on a slow, steady burn for the past several months.

Starting off with nothing less than Tony Stark racing his prototype repulsor technology-powered car as villain Detroit Steel and numerous drones keep blowing up things all around him, Fraction adds to the drama by taking Iron Man Family members War Machine and Rescue off the board.  The conflict is essentially resolved in a cease-fire that both the characters and readers know is all too temporary, but of course, Fraction isn't content to leave things at that.

No, he amps the tension up even more by placing War Machine under direct control of the United States military for standard national security reasons.  And then, he goes and brings none other than Ezekiel Stane, the major threat from his first storyline "The Five Nightmares," back into play.  Oh, and if that isn't enough to keep you reading, there's the revelation that Sasha Hammer's father is none other than Tony's arch-nemesis The Mandarin, who welcomes ol' Zeke into the family.  Dun-dun-DUN!!!

Lately, I've been having a big problem with various DC and Marvel titles jacking up their prices to $3.99 for the sake of a disappointing 8-page backup story that rarely justifies the extra dollar.  Thankfully, this particular backup also written by Fraction, "Good Morning, Tony," doesn't fall into that category.  Told silently through the storytelling device of Tony Stark's internal and external technology, it gives readers an idea of how Tony must view the world around him.  Everything is reduced to soulless, streaming bits of information or completely unimportant conversation from a random girl he meets, dates and later beds all in the span of three story pages.  It's a fairly disturbing look at his central character and definitely worth the added expense.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

DOCTOR WHO Returns in 2011 for Series Six

Yes, he wears a Stetson now.  Stetsons are cool.

At long last, the teaser trailer for Series Six has arrived.  Nazis, Utah, an Ood, that strange TARDIS-like console room from "The Lodger" and the return of River Song.  Bring it.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Will Batwoman Reenlist After Repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"?

This should certainly provide DC Comics' new Batwoman ongoing series some story fodder.

In a landmark vote yesterday, the United States Senate voted to allow gays to serve openly in the military, effecting ending the 17-year "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.  The measure still has to be signed by President Barack Obama and then there's a 60-day waiting period before the change goes into effect.

So presumably, DC Comics could and most likely will address this change at some point in the pages of Batwoman.  After all, previous Batwoman writer Greg Rucka tied the character's origin up in DADT in Detective Comics #859, where he revealed that Kate Kane was expelled from the United States Military Academy for violation of the military's code of conduct rather than lie about having lesbian relationships.

It should be interesting to see what Kate's response to DADT repeal will be, but since the series title is Batwoman and not Second Lieutenant Kate Kane, I imagine something will happen to encourage the character to keep fighting crime in Gotham City instead of fighting overseas in Afghanistan or wherever she ends up stationed.  Of course, this is a fictional universe filled with superheroes who fly and bend steel in their bare hands, so DC could simply keep DADT in effect if they wanted.  They mostly likely won't, though, so Batwoman should become even more must-reading in the months ahead.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Peter David Revisits Mystery Sandman Theater 3000

Well, I certainly didn't see this coming this morning.

Writer Peter David has been posting his old "But I Digress..." columns from Comics Buyer's Guide on his website PeterDavid.net for some time now and it seems he's gotten around to "Mystery Sandman Theater 3000" from CBG #1074, dated July 17, 1994.  This particular column tends to be a particular favorite of mine because I helped write it.

Back in the day, I was a huge fan of Comedy Central's classic TV series Mystery Science Theater 3000 and David was as well, so imagine my interest when he asked for submissions for a "Mystery Sandman Theater 3000," combining MST3K and DC Comics' series Sandman Mystery Theatre.  I had already been riffing on the "Titans Hunt" storyline running through DC's series The New Titans for the APA TitanTalk, so it was pretty much a no-brainer to alter things with a take on Neil Gaiman's Sandman.  And just for the hell of it, I even wrote a version of the MST3K theme using Sandman characters.

Peter David was kind to call me at home to let me know he was going to run my submission, an act made more impressive considering there were no fancy-shmancy Internets at the time to easily track down my phone number.  The wait for the actual issue of CBG to arrive in the mail was interminable, though, but I remember how good it felt to see some silly little thing I did on a whim in a major comics news publication.

So thank you once again, Peter, for letting me contribute to your terrific column and now for bringing back some wonderful memories of what seems at least two or three lifetimes ago.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Has V FOR VENDETTA Finally Become the Modern Anti-Authority Symbol?

Well, it's been a big month for V for Vendetta, hasn't it?

As if various members of the Guy Fawkes-masked group Anonymous making Pro-WikiLeaks retaliatory online attacks against Visa and MasterCard wasn't enough, along comes Clay Duke, a Panama City, Florida man who took six members of the city's school board hostage yesterday before ultimately killing himself.

During the hostage standoff, Duke claimed that he was taking revenge for the board firing his wife because doing so left them broke and at one point, he spraypainted a large red "V" symbol from V for Vendetta on one of the walls.  He apparently had some time on his hands before taking hostages, posting several anti-rich messages on his Facebook account along with several V for Vendetta images and quotes likening himself to the central anti-totalitarian character, V.

I'm guessing DC Comics and Warner Brothers films must be just thrilled about the resulting publicity.

Still, something like this isn't all that unexpected, is it?  Ever since the Wachowski Brothers' 2006 film adaptation starring Hugo Weaving and Natalie Portman, Alan Moore and David Lloyd's 1980s story of V for Vendetta has slowly been working its way into mainstream awareness.  The film only pulled in a modest $132 million worldwide, but has become a well-regarded cult classic in recent years and is currently listed at #175 on IMDb's Top 250 all-time favorite movies.  And with more general awareness comes more chances for some mastermind such as Duke to pervert it to suit his own deranged notion of fighting a personal crusade against what he sees as an oppressive system.

Anonymous certainly seems to have embraced V for Vendetta symbolism ever since 2008 when they began Project Chanology, involving public protests in V masks that resemble English historical figure Guy Fawkes against the Church of Scientology.  Later activities by the group include supporting demonstrations against the Iranian government, fighting against internet censorship in Australia, fighting against various opponents of a free internet and most recently, fighting against corporations dropping their support of news media site WikiLeaks.  The basic revolutionary concepts outlined in V for Vendetta certainly seem to complement the group well enough and the images of masked protestors obviously make good fodder for media organizations.  Hell, even creator Alan Moore seems to approve of the adopted imagery, as evidenced in this quote from an interview in Entertainment Weekly:

"I was also quite heartened the other day when watching the news to see that there were demonstrations outside the Scientology headquarters over here, and that they suddenly flashed to a clip showing all these demonstrators wearing V for Vendetta [Guy Fawkes] masks. That pleased me. That gave me a warm little glow."

As mentioned in V for Vendetta, symbols are given power by people.  How much power people give this particular symbol remains to be seen.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

I Love the 80s Sci-Fi

The great site io9 posted a fun '80s sci-fi nostalgia piece today titled "The 1980s was when science fiction franchises got big."  Okay, so it has a clumsy title, but it runs down the various science-fiction franchises that flourished during the Decade of Decadence and hits all the high notes such as Star Trek, Star Wars, Back to the Future, and various successful sequels. 

All well and good, but what about all those other films and TV shows?  The less mainstream ones that make older geeks squee internally with delight like an obsessed Twilight fan whenever someone remembers them in an obscure pop-culture reference on animated shows like Family Guy, Robot Chicken or The Venture Brothers?  Well, as you might expect, here are some of my personal favorites...

This 1984 cult classic starring RoboCop's Peter Weller and John Lithgow was only made for $12,000,000 but has more charm and heart than most movies with three times the budget.  The lead character, Dr. Buckaroo Banzai, is a top particle physicist, neurosurgeon, race car driver, rock star and comic book icon who, with the help of assorted characters called the Hong Kong Cavaliers, has to save the world from the nefarious Dr. Emilio Lizardo and a group of interdimensional aliens called Red Lectroids from Planet 10.  Thankfully, the film embraces the pure absurdity of such a premise and is one of the more purely fun and entertaining movies you'll ever see.  As if this isn't enough of a reason to see this movie, rounding out the cast are Jeff Goldblum, Christopher Lloyd, Clancy Brown and Alias' Carl Lumbly.

Probably best known as "that show Courteney Cox was in before she was in Bruce Springsteen's 'Dancing in the Dark' music video," Misfits of Science debuted in October of 1985 on NBC and lasted a whole four months before being cancelled after fifteen aired episodes.  It was, however, was one of few 80s superhero shows on television (Think Heroes if it was directed by John Hughes and didn't take itself so seriously) and one that had an offbeat, quirky appeal.  Unfortunately, you can only watch this fun and now horribly-dated series via the magick of the Internets, but I think it's worth the effort, if only for the sake of curiosity.

Hmmm...Looks a little familiar, doesn't it?  Even at the age of fourteen, I was aware of how much this 1983 ABC series by Battlestar Galactica creator Glen A. Larson ripped off the original Tron film but I didn't care too much.  All I knew was, Automan looked cool, it had a superhero vibe to it and it involved computers, which meant I was watching it regardless of how bad it was.  Oh, and it was pretty bad, lasting all of twelve aired episodes.  Still, Automan had a sweet ride in the Autocar, which was shaped like a Lamborghini Countach and could turn on 90-degree angles.  On the downside, he had Desi Arnaz, Jr. as his human sidekick.

Yeah, I know, the sequel to 2001: A Space Odyssey barely holds a candle to the original, but part of me actually prefers 2010.  As we know now, this 1984 Peter Hyams film managed to completely miss the target of how the real 2010 turned out, but I still find it interesting to watch as long as I keep the context of the year it was made in mind.  It has some great performances by Roy Scheider, John Lithgow (see above) and yes, a much younger Helen Mirren as a Soviet cosmonaut.  2010 also has the benefit of explaining what the hell happened in 2001 and turning what was essentially an art film by Stanley Kubrick into the first of a two-part saga.  Highly underrated, in my opinion, and definitely worth another look if you've seen it already.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

DAMN Good Comic of the Week -- THE FLASH #7

"What goes around, comes around."

Apart from being the title of The Flash (vol.3) #7, it's also the central theme of this Rogue Profile issue focusing on Captain Boomerang.  Writer Geoff Johns began these sorts of between-storyline, villain spotlight issues back in the previous Flash volume and it's good to see him resuming them once again.  They give Johns the opportunity to flesh out the Flash's Rogues Gallery as characters while giving him a forum to update and tweak things more to his liking.

The last time Captain Boomerang received this much attention to his origin and background was way back in 1990 in the pages of Suicide Squad #44.  In that story, we learn about the early life of George "Digger" Harkness up until the point he becomes Captain Boomerang.  We also get the revelation that W.W. Wiggins, the toy manufacturer that hired Digger to be a spokesman for his new line of boomerangs way back in Captain Boomerang's first appearance in The Flash (vol.1) #117, was actually his real father.  An interesting way to add something to the character and bring things full circle a bit.

In Johns' take on Boomerang's origin, with art by former Flash artist Scott Kolins, he still learns that Wiggins is his natural father during a trip home for his mother's funeral, but now there's the addition that Wiggins sent him various boomerangs while he was growing up, almost as if Wiggins groomed Digger for his future as Captain Boomerang.  Also, there's a brief "deleted scene" set at some point directly after his mother's funeral where he has one last run-in with his abusive father Ian and angrily decapitates him with a razor-sharp boomerang.  It's a scene that really should've been given a bit more emphasis, instead of treating it like a simple factoid used to transition back to the present day.

Johns adds a tiny bit more to his Brightest Day mystery by having Boomerang free the imprisoned Professor Zoom, the Reverse-Flash, who apparently is only allowed to go by "Reverse-Flash" these days.  Because they were both resurrected by white light, Boomerang wants to know what's coming up in his future and why he's having visions about throwing a boomerang at the heroine Dove.  The Reverse-Flash claims that he knows nothing because Boomerang is unimportant to history, but warns that Boomerang will soon blame himself for freeing him.  In the next issue, we're scheduled to see a Rogue Profile on the newly-freed Reverse-Flash, so hopefully we'll learn exactly why he runs off after warning Boomerang instead of simply killing him.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Marc Guggenheim Gives His Take on THE FLASH Movie

MTV's Splash Page has posted a new interview with Marc Guggenheim, co-writer of the upcoming movie adaptation of DC Comics' The Flash and current writer on Justice Society of America, where he discusses his take on the Flash movie script and why Barry Allen was chosen as the featured Flash instead of Wally West.

Guggenheim, who previously worked on the brief Bart Allen Flash era in The Flash: The Fastest Man Alive, remarked that the decision to go with Barry was "very similar for the whole reason we went with Hal for the Green Lantern. That’s the Silver Age character. That’s the character people grew up on. That’s the name first associated with that character. So part of it is honoring the legacy aspect, and the other aspect is just practical — you can go forward, but you can’t really go backward. You can’t start with Kyle Rayner, and then do a movie with Hal Jordan."

Concerning the tone of the film, Guggenheim reiterated previous comparisons to darker films such as Seven and The SIlence of the Lambs, at least in a "mysterious and noir-ish way."  Barry's forensics CSI background will be emphasized in an attempt at "combining a crime thriller with a superhero movie."  He also mentions that there are elements of a sports movie, "because the character is so physical and I feel like there is an athleticism to his power that other superheroes don’t have."

No details on who the featured Rogue villain will be, although Chunk was specifically eliminated from the running, and laughter responses to queries about Gorilla Grodd and the Rainbow Raider seem to imply that those two are off the table as well.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Dirk Gently's Holistic TV Adaptation of the Soul

At long last, Douglas Adams' literary creation Dirk Gently has finally been adapted for television...but will it be worth the wait?

Blastr have the lowdown on the new Dirk Gently series for BBC Four starring Stephen Mangan as the title character, including the first trailer which announces that the series is "Coming Soon," regardless of how soon "Soon" actually is.  Although based on Adams' two Dirk Gently novels, Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency and The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul, it seems this Dirk Gently series is also going to draw somewhat from the current series of Doctor Who and Sherlock, at least in terms of tone.  The BBC's official take on the series follows:

Stephen Mangan will play Douglas Adams' eccentric detective Dirk Gently in a new BBC Four drama based on the author's cult novel, Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency.

He is joined by Darren Boyd as his unwitting sidekick Richard Macduff and Helen Baxendale as Richard's girlfriend Susan in the adaptation by Bafta-winning Howard Overman.

Anti-hero Dirk Gently operates his eponymous detective agency based on the fundamental interconnectedness of all things. Perpetually broke, hopelessly chaotic and utterly infuriating, most people suspect Dirk is nothing more than a cheap conman. And they might be right – but nevertheless his methods, though unusual, do often produce surprising results.

When Dirk sets out to solve an apparently simple and harmless disappearance of a cat from an old lady's house, he unwittingly uncovers a double murder which, in turn, leads to a host of even more extraordinary events.

Personally, I've always imagined Dirk as a bit dirtier and seedier than what I'm seeing from this trailer.  They seem to be playing up the eccentricity to cater to Doctor Who and Sherlock fans, but as long as the spirit of the books remains intact, then I can deal just fine.  This is a Douglas Adams creation, after all, and if I can survive Sam Rockwell as George W. Bush as Zaphod Beeblebrox, I can certainly survive this.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Daft Punk's "Derezzed" Official Music Video

Greetings, Programs!

With the release of Daft Punk's soundtrack to the film Tron: Legacy arriving in stores today, it certainly makes sense that their official music video from the soundtrack would make its debut as well.  MTV has the premiere, so enjoy the nods to a few classic '80s videogames and also a great cameo by Olivia Wilde, one of the stars of Tron: Legacy, in the process.

End of line.

Friday, December 3, 2010

CW Adds RAVEN to List of Potential SMALLVILLE Replacements

Another day, another DC Comics concept reported to be in development as a replacement for the CW network's long-running series Smallville, which is ending in May 2011.

According to an article posted on Variety, the CW is developing a series based on New Teen Titans founding member Raven, created in 1980 by Marv Wolfman and George PĂ©rez.  As fans of the series know, Raven, a.k.a. Rachel Roth, is the daughter of the interdimensional demon Trigon and her human mother Angela Roth, more well known as Arella.  She has various empathic abilities as well as teleporation and the ability to manifest an astral-projected "Soul-Self."  Oh, and thanks to her paternal lineage, she also has the tendency to become evil every so often whenever the Titans books need to be shaken up a little.  One of these various "Dark Raven" episodes resulted in the character's death, but she was later resurrected in the body of a teenager so that she could be included in the current incarnation of the Teen Titans.

This potential new Raven series is being developed by Diego Gutierrez, who previously served as a co-executive producer and writer on ABC's V remake and was an assistant to Joss Whedon on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel.  Currently, the project only has a script order and no casting or pilot episode information is available.

Raven joins a growing list of rumored potential replacements for Smallville, including a Wonder Woman series developed by David E. Kelley that hasn't yet found a network, a Blue Beetle series that had test footage shown at this year's San Diego Comic On, a new Batman TV series to air after Christopher Nolan's final Batman film The Dark Knight Rises, and even a series based on Neil Gaiman's classic series Sandman.  Obviously, there's no reason to think that this production will progress any further than any of the others, but it does seem like the CW has a number of options in play.

Meanwhile, my long-desired Firestorm the Nuclear Man series remains nothing more than wishful thinking on my part.  Hey CW, give me a call or hit me up on Facebook or Twitter, okay?

Mr. Fantastic Confirmed as First Superhero DOCTOR WHO Fan

So there I was, reading my copy of Daredevil #512 that arrived in stores this week, when I noticed this interesting little advertisement that Marvel included showing Tony Stark, a.k.a. the invincible Iron Man, listing various gifts he's giving to his fellow Marvel superheroes for Non-Specific Holiday this year.

Although only four Marvel superheroes actually rate high to enough on Tony's list to get Non-Specific Holiday gifts this time out, I thought it was very interesting that Tony is buying the Doctor Who Series Five DVD set for Mr. Fantastic.  If you make the natural jump in logic, this means that Mr. Fantastic is a Whovian.

I mean, think about it -- If Mr. Fantastic wasn't a Whovian, why would Tony buy Series Five for Reed Richards instead of starting him off with Series One?  Reed must already have Series One through Four (and the Specials, presumably), although we have no way of knowing if he was a fan of the original series from 1963-89 or the 1996 TV movie.

Also, you have to wonder if Tony is a Doctor Who fan as well.  It's possible Tony and Reed have a mutual love of the series considering it promotes what The Late, Late Show host Craig Ferguson so eloquently and succinctly phrased "The triumph of intellect and romance over brute force and cynicism."  However, it's also equally possible that Tony simply knows that Reed wanted Series Five for a Non-Specific Holiday present this year.  Still, for two characters who are established tech geeks, it seems rather ridiculous that Tony would settle for getting him Doctor Who Series Five on standard (not to mention cheaper) DVD instead of the higher-resolution Blu-Ray format.  Of course, in the current comics, Tony is struggling to rebuild his financial empire with his new Stark Resilient company, so he may have some disposable income issues at the moment.

Some other interesting things from this list -- The Hulk must have some series body odor to deserve masculine fragrances and since Wolverine isn't allowed to smoke cigars anymore, it seems he became a gamer at some point.  FYI though, I really wouldn't sit too close to him whenever he gets very aggressive with the control pads.  SNIKT!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Craig Ferguson Leaks the Doctor Who Night Opening Number

Craig Ferguson, host of CBS' The Late, Late Show with Craig Ferguson, has officially earned a cherished place in Doctor Who history.  Earlier today on Twitter, Ferguson posted the followed message:

@CraigyFerg  http://tinyurl.com/2bos8gq oh no, the Dr. Who clip leaked! I'm furious! When I find out who did this... #leaktheclip

Yes, it's the opening musical number that Ferguson had originally planned to show during his recent "Doctor Who Night" episode on November 16th that featured an appearance by current Doctor Matt Smith.  At the time, Ferguson was prevented from showing the recorded number because his staff had failed to clear the legal rights to use the Doctor Who theme music in time for the broadcast.  However, he also mentioned what a shame it would be if the opening somehow found its way onto the Internets...

...and so it has.  Thank you so much, Craig!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Doctor Who: The Time Crash of Five Doctors in 2013?

Ah, you can already hear Whovians all over the world salivating at the mere idea...

In a recent interview, Doctor Who's fondly-remembered Seventh Doctor, Sylvester McCoy, has stirred up hopes of a new multi-Doctor story for the show's 50th anniversary in 2013 with comments that he would be willing to return for a special reunion episode.  McCoy, who still reprises the role of the Seventh Doctor in new audio adventures for Big Finish Productions, remarked that modern computer technology could be used to bring back earlier Doctors who have died in some capacity or make the older surviving Doctors appear thin again.

This news comes on top of Paul McGann, the Eighth Doctor, debuting a new Eighth Doctor costume for vague "promotional purposes" last month at a convention in New Zealand.  Naturally, no official word of a potential "The Eleven Doctors" reunion special has been announced for 2013, but it does seem that the idea is becoming more of a possibility.  So if such a reunion special did happen, which of the eleven Doctors would we most likely see?

The First, Second and Third Doctors are sadly deceased, although William Hartnell's First Doctor was portrayed by actor Richard Hurndall in the 20th anniversary special "The Five Doctors," so recasting the roles is potentially an option.  Ideally, Patrick Troughton's son David and Jon Pertwee's son Sean would be natural choices to portray the Second and Third Doctors respectively if they were willing.

The Fourth Doctor, Tom Baker, is thankfully stlll with us but he'll be 79 years old in 2013, so his reprisal seems unlikely, although some type of vocal appearance or cameo as a different character isn't out of the question.

The Fifth Doctor, Peter Davison, recently reprised the role in 2007 for the Children in Need charity special "Time Crash," written by current Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat and set between the episodes "Last of the Time Lords" and "Voyage of the Damned."  "Time Crash" also established an explanation for the aging of the actor, chalking it up to a by-product of being taken out of his timeline, which could be used to explain the appearances of other older Doctors from the original series.

The Sixth Doctor, Colin Baker, will be 70 years old in 2013 and barely resembles his 1986 self as it is.  As with Tom Baker, though, a vocal appearance or cameo as a different character is certainly possible.

The Seventh Doctor, Sylvester McCoy?  Well, obviously he's up for it, even though he'll also turn 70 in 2013.  His last physical appearance as the Seventh Doctor was in 1996 for the TV Movie, so provided some quality makeup, costuming and/or computer manipulation is utilized, McCoy's Doctor could be on the table.

The Eighth Doctor, Paul McGann, turns 54 in 2013 but he still looks great.  I imagine we'd see McGann in this new Big Finish costume instead of his TV movie costume, but as far as I'm concerned, it's a very small price to pay to see him get one more shot at portraying the Doctor on screen.

The Ninth Doctor, Christopher Eccleston, is considerably more problematic.  As recently as June of this year, Eccleston remarked that he quit Doctor Who in 2005 because he "didn't enjoy the environment and the culture" that the crew had to work in and that he would have to "blind himself" to things he thought were wrong.  Some bad blood there, obviously, so the big question is whether Eccleston would be willing to set it aside for the sake of the reunion.  Unless I read something more encouraging from him between now and 2013, my own guess is that he wouldn't.

The Tenth Doctor, David Tennant, should pretty much be a given unless there's a major schedule conflict that prevents him from returning.  Tennant is well-known as a fan of Doctor Who before he even took on the role in 2005, so I think the opportunity to appear in another multi-Doctor special would be just about impossible to resist.

So provided that Matt Smith is still the current Doctor in 2013, for what would be his fourth year, I think we're looking at a reunion special starring the Fifth, Seventh, Eighth, Tenth and Eleventh Doctors, for a total of five, or with the First, Second and Third possibly played by someone else, making for a total of eight. 

Using just five Doctors would be more manageable in terms of story, while the other six could be referenced using various techniques involving old footage or CGI wizardry.  However, from a purely fannish standpoint, it would be more fun to see eight Doctors bickering with one another than five, especially if it helps introduce younger Doctor Who viewers to what was so appealing about the earliest Doctors.  Whatever happens in 2013, though, at least it means we'll have fifty years' worth of Doctor Who characters and stories to enjoy for many more years to come...

Sunday, November 28, 2010

DAMN Good Television -- YOUNG JUSTICE: "Independence Day"

Although it's been just under five years since the Teen Titans animated series ended, DC Comics' sidekick heroes have found a new home in the Cartoon Network series Young Justice, based loosely on the comic book series of the same name by Peter David and Todd Nauck and the current Teen Titans comic series.  And as those of you who follow the various DC animated projects might expect, this new series also plays fast and loose with standard DC Universe continuity, mixing the original Robin and Kid Flash, Dick Grayson and Wally West, together with the current Superboy and Aqualad.  Anyone attempting to reconcile this animated series with the Justice League Unlimited series is bound to wind up with a severe headache as well, so you're better off treating this as a completely stand-alone universe.

In the pilot episode written by Greg Weisman, "Independence Day," Robin, Kid Flash, Aqualad and Speedy (Roy Harper) are brought to the Hall of Justice by their Justice League mentors after defeating various ice-themed villains Mr. Freeze, Captain Cold, Killer Frost and the Icicle.  The idea is to give the young sidekick heroes some additional privileges and access to Justice League headquarters, but nothing too vital, such as the orbiting headquarters The Watchtower.  This limited access doesn't sit too well with Speedy, who throws down his yellow archer's cap and storms off in an adolescent huff.

Robin, Kid Flash and Aqualad are soon left to twiddle their thumbs as the Justice League goes off to do League stuff, but Robin, now graced with Tim Drake's computer hacking skills, uncovers some information that leads the team deep into Cadmus Labs.  There, a series of events introduces them to DC characters Guardian, Dubbilex, Blockbuster and most importantly, their new teammate Superboy.  Ultimately, the young heroes show the Justice League that they have something to contribute and the league agrees, setting them up with their own headquarters in Mount Justice, an additional member in Miss Martian, a "guardian" in League member Red Tornado, and promises of combat training by Black Canary and covert missions assigned by Batman.  Yes, that's right, Young Justice is now the black ops division of the Justice League.  If you've ever thought about the notion that Childrens Services should have a serious problem with the idea of adult superheroes intentionally endangering their young sidekicks, I really can't see covert operations helping matters much.

Since this was essentially the series setup episode, "Independence Day" handled the basics pretty well, introducing you to the main characters and laying out the series premise.  The previous Teen Titans series featured an Americanized anime style, but thankfully, the animation style in Young Justice is comparable to current direct-to-home-video DC animated projects.  The colors are sharp and vivid for Blu-Ray HD viewing and the linework is fluid enough that it doesn't feel cheaply made.

Weisman's script also keeps things moving nicely, with character banter that younger viewers will find entertaining even if it's not overly realistic.  Each team member has very distinct personality characteristics -- Robin is the adventurous go-getter/tech geek, Kid Flash is the impulsive comic relief (For some ungodly reason, it seems Flashes have to be comic relief), Aqualad is the driven and serious leader type (Sorry about that, Grayson), and Superboy is the innocent powerhouse trying to learn about himself and the world around him.   If there's any real problem with this first story, it's that the female team members are seriously downplayed.  Miss Martian doesn't show up until the very end in little more than a glorified "Hey, guys!  Here's Miss Martian!" cameo while future team member Artemis isn't even hinted at.  As for Wonder Girl...Well, I guess we'll see.

Overall, Young Justice has considerable potential and looks to be a very promising addition to DC Comics' long line of fondly-remembered animated projects.  The disappointing thing is, we have to wait until January 2011 for the next episode, but with promises of at least 135 characters from the DC Universe by episode sixteen and an announcement that Peter David is writing a couple of episodes, it sounds like it should be worth the wait.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

DAMN Good Comic of the Week -- TEEN TITANS #89

It's official...Damian Wayne is the new Guy Gardner.

Back in the day, Green Lantern Guy Gardner rose to prominence as a character in the pages of Justice League International, where he tormented his fellow team members with insults, obnoxious bravado and tactless criticism on a monthly basis.  Gardner's loutish behavior put him into conflict with various team members, even resulting in a legendary single knockout punch.  The point here, though, is that he also made the book considerably more interesting because of the conflict he created.  Over time, however, Guy has essentially been neutered as a character, becoming a far more mainstream hero than he once was.

But now, it seems more evident than ever that current Robin Damian Wayne has stepped into Guy Gardner's boots and the Teen Titans are the lucky group who gets to babysit him.  In "Bruised Egos," redundant Batman and Titans founder Dick Grayson asks the Titans to add Damian to their team in order to learn how to trust people.  The Teen Titans, with Ravager in particular, aren't exactly big fans of the idea, but Grayson convinces team leader Wonder Girl who basically tells the others to suck it up and deal.

So now that we have some inner team conflict to juice things up, writer J.T. Krul sends the Teen Titans off to face Barney, a genetically-augmented kid given considerable mental and psychokinetic abilities by a new villain named Doctor Caligan in the previous issue.  What follows is a standard Titans fight sequence that almost ends peacefully, until Damian abruptly steps in and stirs everything right back up, allowing Barney to escape.  Damian, true to form, remains oblivious to the potential repercussions of his actions.

What really sells this issue, though, is the stellar artwork by Nicola Scott.  After far too long of this series simply getting by month after month with mediocre artwork, it finally feels like DC Comics is making an effort to improve the book's quality.  Scott has a terrific grasp of how characters move, even in scenes where they're simply walking and conversing.  She also gives thought to their specific body types, particularly in her depictions of Dick Grayson with a leaner, more acrobatic physique compared against Superboy's more muscular frame.  The coloring by Jason Wright complements Scott's artwork as well, giving scenes such as Raven's otherdimensional realm an extra punch they might not have had with another colorist.

All in all, I'm starting to see some serious potential in this new creative team.  If they keep building on this initial momentum and deliver some well-crafted stories with some memorable villains, we could be looking at the Teen Titans' long-awaited return to greatness.  Here's hoping...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

DOCTOR WHO: Memories of Time and Space

Forty-seven years ago today, in the first episode of the story "An Unearthly Child," two schoolteachers followed a strange teenaged girl and her curmudgeonly grandfather into a British police box and television history was made.  Doctor Who became a worldwide phenomenon in the years that followed, going through eleven lead actors, umpteen companions and all sorts of aliens and monsters, ultimately earning the record for the world's longest-running science-fiction series.

I first discovered Doctor Who in early 1984 at the age of 14.  My parents and I were visiting my aunt and uncle in Columbus one evening and while the adults were off playing Euchre, I was left alone to my preferred world of watching television while reading a stack of comic books.  As my fellow members of Generation X know, television options in 1984 were pretty damn slim, especially since my aunt and uncle didn't yet have cable television.  So I manually turned the channel knob (Yes, children...manually) in the hopes of finding something I could tolerate while reading my comics.

Since there were all of six stations -- ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS and a couple of independent stations -- this didn't take very long but I ultimately settled on PBS as soon as I heard some spooky music and decided it was the most interesting thing on.  Some guys were digging around in a raging snowstorm and uncovered some sort of strange pod thing that they took back to their camp.  Satisfied enough with my programming selection, I stretched out on the living room floor and started reading one of my comics, but then became distracted when something weird happened on the television.  One of the guys was stung by a tentacle that erupted from the pod and he ended up becoming covered from head to toe in a creepy green fungus.  Also, some curly-haired guy in a big hat and a long scarf and his short brunette friend seemed pretty bothered about it, but whatever was going on, it was pretty weird and cool.  As I later learned, this was the classic Tom Baker era story "The Seeds of Doom," featuring Elisabeth Sladen as definitive companion Sarah Jane Smith.

Now, I would love to tell you what I thought about the rest of the episode, but my family's card game had ended and my parents and I left to go back home to Medina.  That could have been it for my lifelong Doctor Who obsession, but as fate (or general probability) would have it, I ended up in similar circumstances later that summer after turning 15.  On a boring Saturday afternoon, I was flipping channels at home (at least we had a TV with a remote), desperately looking for something to watch.  I looked through the newspaper channel guide and saw that Doctor Who, that strange show I saw before, was about to come on my local PBS station with an hour and a half long episode called "The Keeper of Traken."

As soon as I heard the opening starburst of Peter Howell's arrangement of the Doctor Who theme music, I became hooked forever.

That howling, synthesized music introduced me to the world of the Doctor, now looking older in Tom Baker's seventh and final season, his new companion Adric and the blue phone booth-looking machine called the TARDIS.  From there I met a young girl called Nyssa, who would soon become a companion as well, and learned about the Doctor's arch-nemesis the Master.  And when the story ended (in a cliffhanger of all things, the bastards!) with Nyssa's father Tremas becoming a newly regenerated Master, my jaw dropped and I simply had to tune in next week to find out what happened next.  Remember, back in the Stone Age, there was no handy-dandy internet where you could download the next episode or instantly look up what happened on Wikipedia or numerous Doctor Who reference sites.  No, you had to bloody wait an entire seven days.

So with seven days being a relative eternity to a 15-year-old, I somehow managed to tune in again for "Logopolis," Tom Baker's final adventure as the Fourth Doctor.  Once again, that crack-addictive theme music howled ooooooweeeeoooooooo in the living room and I was introduced to the Australian "mouth on legs," Tegan Jovanka, and a mysterious white figure called the Watcher who turned up at various ominous moments.  The Doctor and Adric received warnings from the TARDIS' Cloister Bell that something dangerous was going to happen, but for some reason, the Doctor was focused on fixing the TARDIS' Chameleon Circuit through something called block-transfer computation and I have no idea what all that means but it's awesome!  Eventually, Nyssa returned and joined Tegan and Adric to see the Fourth Doctor have a showdown with the Master atop a very slowly rotating satellite dish platform.  The Doctor disconnected a power cable that he ended up hanging precariously from and then suddenly, bizarrely, he saw Sarah Jane and some other people, along with the Master and some other villainous people.  And then -- Holy crap! -- he fell!  There he was, dying with his three companions surrounding him, until the Watcher came up and merged with him somehow, turning the Doctor into a younger, fair-haired guy who smiled and sat up like nothing had happened.

In the immortal words of Keanu Reeves...WHOA.

And that, as they say, was that.  From "Castrovalva" onward, I became a diehard fan of the Fifth Doctor -- my Doctor -- played by Peter Davison.  Davison's era became my defining period as a full-fledged Whovian, encouraging me to learn about all seven Doctors, all the companions, all the villains and monsters, and all the episodes.  I watched every week in full fan-obsessed mode, sitting through interminable PBS pledge drives, videotaping every episode the station was generous enough to air and tracking down any potential Doctor Who thing I could find, which in northeast Ohio, wasn't a whole lot.  And then, after my family briefly moved to Florida in 1989, my heart broke after learning that the show had been cancelled for some insanely stupid reasons.  It was the end...and the moment had not been prepared for. 

I received a brief glimmer of hope in 1996 with the TV Movie starring Paul McGann as the Eighth Doctor, but that faded upon learning that the backdoor pilot did poorly in the ratings and wasn't going to be picked up by FOX or the BBC.  With only Doctor Who Magazine to keep Whovians going during the Dark Times, Doctor Who fandom fully regenerated on September 26, 2003, when we got the announcement was made that Doctor Who was returning in 2005...

....and Rassilon willing, to stay.

Saturday, November 20, 2010


Those lucky, lucky people who already follow me on Facebook know that I have a fondness for writing up movie reviews so I’ve decided to start posting them here.  If you haven’t seen this movie yet and don’t want it spoiled for you, then for cryin’ out loud, stop reading now.  If, however, you are wise enough to know that movie reviews with spoilers are always more fun and interesting than the ones without them…well, rock on.

So here we are, the penultimate Harry Potter movie, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1.  It’s been a long, nine-year road to get to this point in the movie saga and needless to say, expectations are understandably high.  Unfortunately, returning director David Yates already suffered a big misstep with his previous film, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, so my big concern was whether we were in for more of the same.

To give the final novel in the series by writer J.K. Rowling its proper due, the decision was made to split it into two films which proved wise, in my opinion.  The book ridiculously comes in at over 750 pages, so there’s an important decision to be made of where to divide it into two films.  And unfortunately, the novel is so poorly structured and uneven, with a lot of pointless detail and drawn-out sequences between actual events that could and should have been trimmed out by any reasonably competent editor.

Yates and screenwriter Steve Kloves, thankfully, trim away a lot of Deathly Hallows’  fat and gristle but because of the need to adhere closely to the final novel, there’s still far too much left on the plate.  Some very cool and entertaining scenes and filled in with overly long sequences (I’m looking at you, cross-country camping!) that make the film just draaaaaaaag at times.  Characters will stand around debating their various motivations or something and you sit there wishing they’d just GET ON WITH IT. 

It also doesn’t help that viewing this film requires you to be a master of all things Potter.  Any newbie jumping in with this film will be completely lost as little to nothing is explained from what happened before or who all these characters are.  That’s not a bad thing necessarily, but it means that you’ll need to be current on your homework before seeing this movie.

The thing is, Deathly Hallows Part 1 isn’t a bad film and at times, it’s really quite good.  If you can survive all the unnecessary story padding, this was the most cinematic adaptation in the series so far.  The cinematography by Eduardo Serra is exquisite at times, making those endless, uneventful camping scenes at least pretty to look at.  In addition, there’s a beautifully animated sequence in the third act when Xenophilius Lovegood explains the significance of the Deathly Hallows.  The Potter series has stepped up its game, at least in terms of presentation if not narrative.

It helps that the themes in this film are more mature.  Characters die or are maimed throughout the film and you find yourself thinking back to the first film with Harry getting sorted into Gryffindor and playing Quidditch and realizing that this isn’t a kids’ fantasy series anymore.  Just as Harry Potter readers grew up with the books, now Harry Potter audiences are forced to grow up with the film adaptations.

Once again, though, we have a Harry Potter film that focuses primarily on the three lead characters, Harry, Ron and Hermione, leaving the rest of the cast to little more than glorified cameos.  Here’s what I feel stands out in this film…

HARRY JAMES POTTER:  At this stage of the game, playing Harry Potter has to be effortless for Daniel Radcliffe.  He gives Harry a hardened weariness in this film, showing him as determined to do what it takes to finish Voldemort while being worn down by all the crap that has happened to him and his friends up until this point.  Harry’s ready to end this, once and for all, even if it means stripping down to his underwear and diving into an ice-covered pond at night to retrieve a sword.

RON BILIUS WEASLEY:  I always enjoy seeing Rupert Grint as Ron.  He’s the regular guy you can relate to in all this wizardry nonsense, although here he ends up becoming Samwise Gamgee to Harry Potter’s Frodo Baggins.  Ron, like Hermione, is there to keep Harry focused on the task at hand, but also falls victim to the evil of the Horcrux locket in a pretty unsettling scene where he believes he sees Harry and Hermione making out with one another while naked.  I’m sure the so-called “family values” groups will love that one.

HERMIONE JEAN GRANGER:  Emma Watson gets to step up to the plate in a big way this time.  After Ron is written out of the story in a Horcrux-fueled jealousy huff, it’s Hermione who gets promoted to Chief Sidekick, urging Harry onward in their cross-country camping quest.  She’s the truly competent one who knows what she’s doing, but still ends up becoming someone for Harry to save every so often.

LORD “HE WHO MUST NOT BE CALLED TOM RIDDLE” VOLDEMORT:  Finally secure in his place as the Big Bad, Voldemort gets to sit at the head of the table of bad guys and call the shots.  However, because this isn’t the final film, he’s relegated to searching for the Elder Wand and being the film’s cliffhanger ending.  As he fires a bolt of magical energy into the air, I half-expected him to go all He-Man from Masters of the Universe and shout “I HAVE THE POWERRRR!”

RUFUS SCRIMGEOUR:  Finally making an appearance in a Harry Potter film is geek-favorite Bill Nighy.  Although cut from the adapation of The Half-Blood Prince, Scrimgeour gets to be the one who reads Dumbledore’s will to Harry, Ron and Hermione to give them their magical thingamabobs that pay off later on. 

BELLATRIX LESTRANGE:  Just like Emma Watson, Helena Bonham Carter also gets a promotion to Chief Sidekick, only for Team Voldemort.  With her street cred of killing Sirius Black, Bellatrix has become the second biggest threat so she gets to torture and threaten to kill Hermione.  More importantly, though, she adds another kill to her resume by being the one who throws a knife into Dobby’s tummy.

DRACO MALFOY:  Once Harry’s arch-nemesis, Draco has become a minor plot point now that Voldemort has moved in and taken over his family’s home as his Hall of Doom.  He gets to wince as Muggle Studies teacher Charity Burbage becomes snake food for Nagini and act conflicted about whether all of this bad guy stuff was really a good idea. 

LUCIUS MALFOY:  Another former threat reduced to henchman status, Lucius gets to hand over his wand to Voldemort for the aforementioned smoking of Charity Burbage.  Oh, and he also gets to look scared and conflicted about everything.

SEVERUS SNAPE:  After taking out Dumbledore in the previous film, Snape should be primed for this film but he merely gets to sit at the bad guy table and presumably bide his time for the final film.  He does get announced, however, as the new Headmaster of Hogwart’s, which would’ve been interesting if we had actually gotten to see Hogwart’s.

DOLORES UMBRIDGE:  Once the Big Bad of Order of the Phoenix, Imelda Staunton makes a nice, albeit brief return here as Umbridge.  As the head of the Muggle-born Registration Commission, she gets to head up the Joseph McCarthyesque “Are you now or have you ever been a Muggle” witch—errrr, Muggle hunt inside the Ministry of Magic. 

PETER “WORMTAIL” PETTIGREW:  Still rocking the silver replacement hand given to him by Voldemort, Wormtail continues his Grima Wormtongue-like underling role.  He, however, doesn’t get to sit at the bad guy table and merely gets to keep an eye on prisoners that eventually escape.

MUNDUNGUS FLETCHER:  For some reason unexplained in the film, the Order of the Phoenix lets this former Azkaban prisoner become one of the Harry Potter impersonator decoys used to get the real Harry out of Privet Drive.  He’s also the guy who gets the Slytherin’s locket Horcrux to Umbridge.  Essentially, he’s yet another superfluous character in Rowling’s narrative doing something that could easily have been done by someone else.

RUBEUS HAGRID:  Hagrid doesn’t get too much screen time in this one, but he does get to dust off the flying motorcycle that we haven’t seen since way back in The Sorcerer’s Stone to get Harry out of Privet Drive to safety.  He also gets a quick reunion with his girlfriend Madame Maxine at Bill and Fleur’s wedding.

XENOPHILIUS LOVEGOOD:  Future Spider-Man movie villain actor Rhys Ifans gets to play Luna Lovegood’s father.  His sole purpose in the movie seems to be to give Harry, Ron and Hermione background information on the significance of the Deathly Hallows and set up them for a pointless Death Eater assault to get the return of his kidnapped daughter.

LUNA LOVEGOOD:  After a couple of great appearances, Luna is relegated to a couple of brief cameos, once at the wedding and once as a prisoner at Malfoy Manor.  Hopefully, she gets more screen time in the final film.

FRED AND GEORGE WEASLEY:  The twins’ primary appearance is during the Harry Potter decoy sequence, but George gets his left ear severed in an unseen battle.  He does, however, get a very funny appearance later on with a toothbrush sticking out of the hole in his ear.

GINEVRA “GINNY” MOLLY WEASLEY:  Once again, the love of Harry Potter’s life gets absolutely nothing to do.  Ginny’s sole purpose for being in this film to give Harry a passionate kiss before the wedding that gets interrupted by one of her brothers.

ARTHUR AND MOLLY WEASLEY:  Arthur and Molly get another cameo appearance but simply as Order of the Phoenix members and for the wedding.  Molly does gets a bit more screen time to fret over her wounded son, George.

ALASTOR “MAD-EYE” MOODY:  Brendon Gleeson makes a welcome return as Mad-Eye as he leads the decoy operation with the Order, but then is killed off-screen and mentioned only in a far too quick “Oh, by the way, Mad-Eye Moody’s dead” explanation.

REMUS LUPIN AND NYMPHADORA TONKS:  Lupin and Tonks return for the Privet Drive decoy operation to reveal that they’re now married and Tonks is preggers, although that revelation is only implied.  Sadly, Tonks is no longer as hot as she used to be in Order of the Phoenix, especially with her fondess of banging middle-aged werewolves.

NEVILLE LONGBOTTOM:  Neville’s sole purpose in this movie is to tell Death Eaters that Harry Potter isn’t on the train going to Hogwart’s.  Seriously, that’s it.

ALBUS PERCIVAL WULFRIC BRIAN DUMBLEDORE:  Yes, he’s still dead.  However, he does make an appearance as a perfectly undecomposed corpse so that Voldemort can take the Elder Wand from his grave.

VERNON, PETUNIA AND DUDLEY DURSLEY:  The Dursleys get a quick cameo as they’re scene getting in their car to flee from Privet Drive.  That’s it.

DOBBY THE JAR-JAR BINKS ELF:  Dies.  Finally.  He does, however, get the most heroic death in the movie, at least the only one to have any real meaning.

KREACHER:  Doesn’t die, but stops being a jerk for unexplained reasons.

NAGINI:  Voldemort’s pet snake gets more screen time than most of the Potter cast, especially with a creepy sequence when she impersonates Bathilda Bagshot from inside her own corpse. 

HEDWIG:  Harry’s pet owl dies abruptly in an absolutely thankless death during Harry’s escape from Privet Drive.  Harry mentions that it appears as if she was trying to protect him, but then he makes absolutely no mention of her for the rest of the entire film.

All in all, I felt Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallow Part 1  was a solid, albeit uneven, installment of the series.  It suffers from having to adhere closely to the first half of a poorly structured final novel, leaving little room for improvement.  However, it does provide sufficient raising of the stakes for the final showdown in Part 2 next summer and should be more entertaining if you watch both parts back-to-back.

And for anyone who might be wondering, here’s my personal ranking of the Harry Potter films:

1. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)
2. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007)
3. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 (2010)

4. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005)
5. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001)
6. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009)
7. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Seattle Police Encounter Real-Life Superheroes

Okay, this is a fun one...

The website Seattle PI has posted an article that Seattle police say that a group of people acting as real-life superheroes are patrolling the city streets to protect citizens from crime.  Calling themselves the Rain City Superhero Movement, the Seattle group is part of an organization called Real Life Superheroes that promotes superhero vigilante acitivity.  Members reportedly include the superheroes Thorn, Buster Doe, Green Reaper, Gemini, No Name, Catastrophe, Thunder 88, Penelope and Phoenix Jones, the Guardian of Seattle.

According to the article, Phoenix Jones was nearly shot by police when he came running out of a darkened park wearing a black costume.  Jones' true identity is now known by Seattle police and he apparently is often driven around town by a young woman not in costume who stays in the car while Jones does his superhero thing.  He was interviewed by police detectives this month and even came to police headquarters dressed in most of his costume.  The full costume, it seems, was being repaired after Jones was supposedly stabbed while breaking up a drug deal, although the police claim that may not have actually been wounded.

In another case, police responded to a harrassment complaint and found Jones with four other men and one woman, all in ski masks and bandanas, facing a man making threatening statements while swinging a golf club around.  The group reportedly refused to press charges because they didn't want to identify themselves to officers, so their golf club-packing nemesis walked.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


In a gleeful fit of what can only be described as surreal madness, Craig Ferguson devoted an entire episode of CBS' The Late, Late Show to "Doctor Who Night."  Yes, for one night only, insomniacs all over mainstream America were introduced to the wonder that is the world's longest-running science-fiction series, Doctor Who.

All did not go as planned, however.  Ferguson opened the episode with a disappointing apology that his original plan posted on Twitter about a special musical rendition of the classic Doctor Who theme complete with dancers in costume and puppets had been cancelled because legal rights to use the theme music had not be cleared in time for the studio recording.  Yes, once again, William Shakespeare was proven right about lawyers.  Personally, I blame The Valeyard.

Still, Ferguson pressed on, making jokes about how the movie Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure ripped off Doctor Who, comparing the concept of the Doctor's ability to regenerate his body into a completely new form to Cher, and suggesting an Odd Couple-like TV series starring his prop sidekick Geoff the Robot Skeleton and a Dalek that was positioned next to Geoff in the studio.  The Dalek, naturally enough, would be the Felix Ungeresque neat freak. 

Actor, writer, comedian and apparent Whovian Chris Hardwick was also on hand throughout the episode beginning with the tweets and e-mails answering segment.  Hardwick and Ferguson bantered on various subjects, including the hotness of current Doctor Who companion Amy Pond (as played by actress Karen Gillan) and Hardwick later offered up his girlfriend to Matt Smith simply because he's the Doctor.

Just over halfway through the episode, current Doctor Who star Matt Smith finally appeared following a clip from the episode "The Vampires of Venice" featuring the Eleventh Doctor encountering the Calvierri girls and demanding that they tell him their entire plan, which of course, fails to work.  An odd choice of a clip, in my personal opinion, considering Smith's more memorable performances in episodes such as "The Eleventh Hour" and "The Pandorica Opens."

Ferguson seemed more interested in goofing around with Smith than actually interviewing him, but Smith did mention Doctor Who's filming in Monument Valley, Utah for 2011's Series Six and that he was taking his run as the Eleventh Doctor "a year at a time" while hinting that he may return in 2012.

All in all, though, a very entertaining hour of television even without the Doctor Who theme musical number.  So Craig, how about having another "Doctor Who Night" with Karen Gillan to promote Series Six airing on BBC America in 2011?