At eternity’s gate.

Last week the Earth was in danger from it’s original inhabitants crawling from under the surface, but this week on Doctor Who, we’re more in what one of the greatest painters ever sees, be it in himself, or in his future, or in the eyes of a scary looking creature staring out from the windows of a church…

And that’s this week’s episode, which bears the rather low key title of “Vincent And The Doctor,” written by Richard Curtis of Four Weddings And A Funeral, Notting Hill, and Love, Actually fame.

The plot is relatively simple: The Doctor is showing Amy a good time, trying to make up for the loss of Rory in small ways, but it’s more about alleviating his guilt over what she can’t remember. They go to the Musee D’orsay in Paris and notice a scary face staring out from a window within Van Gogh’s painting, The Church At Auvers, and after finding a approximation of the date the painting was done, decide to back and pay Van Gogh a visit in his final and incredibly product days and do a little investigating. And adventuring.

It’s kind of interesting in that all of Moffat’s previous episodes of Doctor Who during the RTD run of the show dealt with things of an auditory nature, repeated scary catch phrases and noises of monsters, and this series it’s primary more about what is seen. And Van Gogh, dealing with his madness, is the only person who can see the alien creature rampaging through Provence, possibly because of his temporal lobe epilepsy (the part of your brain where God and other wonderful monsters live, as the God helmet taught us), and that monster itself happens to be blind.

The episode is pretty light on the plot and much more character-driven and kind of hauntingly wonderful in that regard. I didn’t dislike last week’s episode or “The Hungry Earth” before it, but ultimately I feel that it may be rather forgettable in the long run, and possibly “Vampires In Venice” as well (this episode was shot in the same Croatian village as that episode, standing in for France this time, rather than Venice), but this one is an odd keeper. And that, in itself, is interesting because a quick scan online has shown me that quite a few have actually hated this episode, which I think it’s a shame. It was lovely in a tragic way, but also rather life affirming of the beauty of both the good and the bad we experience in this brief and temporary life, especially since the Pandorica will be opening in a mere two weeks.

The rumored original title of this episode was supposedly “Lend Me Your Ear,” which is just too funny.

I can’t say enough good things about Tony Curran’s rendition of Vincent Van Gogh, who didn’t have a lot to do in this episode, not really, but did all of it with such incredible weight. The way he delivered the line, “When you leave, as everyone always does, I will be left with an empty heart and no hope” was beautiful in an incredibly touching way that just stabbed at you, and was in an amazing contract with the tears that streamed down his eyes as Bill Nighy’s curator character explained the effect that Van Gogh had on the world of modern art.

Also, keeping his natural Scottish accent and having him then assume that Amy Pond was Dutch as well was brilliant.

And then there was that beautiful scene of Van Gogh laying in the grass with Amy and the Doctor, having them look up at the night sky and seeing it from his perspective, the literal transformation from the real into a starry night.

And Karen Gillan was again, of course, beautiful in this episode, and again, felt somewhat wasted. I quite enjoyed her stuff at the end, after her and the Doctor showed Van Gogh how he changed the world of the future, and the way she hoped that they had had an effect on him that would’ve changed something in his life for the better, perhaps helped him to deal with his demons and live longer…

…but finding that their time with the artist only gave him the strength to carry out his life exactly as it already played out.

From her perspective, that is.

And the perspective of a time traveler can certainly be an interesting thing, I think we’ve seen so far this season.

It’s interesting watching Matt Smith’s progression as the Doctor this series, not so much in acting, but in writing. Part of that has to do with the showrunner, Stephen Moffat, writing more episodes at the start of the series, but there’s certainly much more of a weight to episodes like “The Eleventh Hour” and “The Beast Below” and, of course, in “The Time Of Angels” and “Flesh And Stone.” Life literally felt like it was on the line in those episodes, the situations were certainly more dire, and the actors/characters shown a lot brighter, and I’m looking forward to next week’s episode, but I’m really anxious to see Moffat return in two weeks as River Song returns (along with Rory and a whole host of baddies, apparently, if supposed spoilers are to be believed), the Pandorica opens, and silence falls…

Next time: The Doctor takes the slow path for a week without the TARDIS, becoming a lodger, playing a little soccer, and discovers the mystery of the staircase that people can go up but never come down.

“Keep buggering on!”

As promised at the end of last week’s episode, this week on Doctor Who we’re in the middle of London during the Blitz, sitting in cabinet war meetings with massive lion that is Winston Churchill and meeting with England’s new weapon against the Nazi Menace…

The humans call them “Ironsides,” thinking they’re a brand new creation, but they don’t realize just how old and deceptive and evil these metal incased creatures are, nor that they’re the Doctor’s oldest and most nefarious enemies, the Daleks.

And that’s the start of this weeks’ Doctor Who, “The Victory Of The Daleks.”

And quite a victory it is. Not to get too spoilery here for you, but the Daleks don’t have some massive plan for conquest there in the past. They can’t. After their last encounter with the Doctor (in series four’s “The Stolen Earth” and “Journey’s End”), they’re broken, weak, unworthy of their own Nazi-ish ideals of what their master race should be. Of course they survived that encounter though. Much like the Doctor, they always survive.

I remember having a good laugh with the denouement in that two parter in the last proper series of what the Daleks and Davros’ big plan was – the utter destruction of all reality, literally the end of all creation except for themselves – because we knew that Steven Moffat was taking over and I saw it as Russell T. Davies saying to his creator, “Ha! Take that. There’s no greater evil master plan than the attempt to destroy all reality, is there?” I’m sure Moffat isn’t afraid to take the challenge, but this episode wasn’t about that. This was about rebuilding his inherited Doctor Who mythos, bringing the Daleks back in a one off episode, showing that the Doctor does have enemies, does have desires for revenge and feels fear, and then moving this particular menace to the background, only to return at some point in the future.

Not a bad episode though, just filler, it felt like, no matter how fun it was. Mark Gattis delivers strong writing and Ian McNeice is lively as a caricature of Churchill. And Amy Pond gets another opportunity to show that she’s lively and amazing. Also, we get nutty android professors and a silly but amazing looking dogfight between British spitfires and the Dalek mothership in orbit above the Earth.

Kylie apparently finds the Daleks sexy.

More importantly we get the return of the mysterious crack in time and space and a nod towards the bigger mystery than we’ve started to suspect was dangling before us: What year exactly is Amy Pond from?

Why doesn’t she remember the attack of the Daleks in “The Stolen Earth”/”Journey’s End” when she definitely should, shouldn’t she? (She’s not Donna Noble, after all.)

Next up: The return of the motherfucking Weeping Angels and the Doctor’s once and future love interest, the awesome archaeologist, River Song.

“Nobody human has anything to say to me today!”

Like I said before, last week’s episode of Doctor Who felt like it came after waiting an eternity. This week’s episode, “The Beast Below,” certainly didn’t feel like it it took that long to get here, but after how great “The Eleventh Hour” was, the excitement level for “The Beast Below” was just as high.

This week, the Doctor is finally firmly regenerated and takes his new companion, Amy Pond, on her first real journey in the TARDIS. So much of it feels like a classic Russell T. Davies set up, with the second episode in the new series doing a paint by numbers journey to a slightly dystopian human society somewhere out there ins pace in the future and showing the companion exactly what the Doctor’s philosophy of time travel is. This time, the Eleventh Doctor tells Amy that it’s a strictly non-interference policy, unless, that is, a little girl is crying somewhere.

But then again, this is not the RTD era anymore. This is the new age, the age of Steven Moffat, mixing both the cool, the new, and the classic, and Moffat’s going to put his truly creepy, brilliant spin on all the old RTD tropes and formulas (that did work, for the most part). The Doctor can be lost in the wild regions of deep outer space and be exploring the creepy, cave-like bowels of a spaceship. And you get classic Moffat stuff here: Recurring creepy phrases, sad little girls, and terrifying monsters. This episode was certainly a quick one, bit of a throw away episode, though charming, and one for the kids, though the children in the audience are going to spend probably this entire series behind their sofa.

There was a lot going on in this episode as well: Starship UK, sailing through the stars during a point in the future after the Earth has burned and the individual nations have gone to the cosmos in search of a new home. And also Sophie Okonedo as Liz Ten, the future English monarch, Elizabeth X. Also, the eponymous beast at the heart of the great ship, and the Winders and the Smilers, and the voting booth: Once every British citizen on the ship comes of age, the terribly dark truth of what’s going on is revealed to them and they’re given two simple choices, “Protest,” or “Forget.” Pretty much everyone chooses “Forget,” and that allows them to go on with their lives guilt-free. Those who click on “Protest” are promptly fed to a monster. The modern parallels are terrifying.

from here.

I’m trying to stay light on spoilers here and not really recap the episode at all, because, well, we don’t actually like strict recaps here at Counterforce. Why read a recap of a television show when you can go watch the thing?

from here.

I liked how we got into the heart of the relationship between the Doctor and Amy a little more, and it’s almost like they’re already old friends. Matt Smith’s Doctor goes where Moffat wants him to (pickpocketing little girls, for starters), showing that he understands humanity even when he doesn’t, he’s human in the terrible ways that they can be, but his instincts are hardly human. The ending comes in a neat little bow as Amy notices that the Star Whale (that name is my only real gripe with this episode) is incredibly similar to the Doctor: old and kind and can’t help but respond when a little girl is crying.

And then there’s Karen Gillan as Amy Pond, who just can’t stop winning me over. I never disliked Rose, but I disliked the ways in which we were constantly told in the RTD era how great and wonderful Rose was. Not shown, but told. To me Amy Pond has already surpassed Rose, rather easily, I might add, but also carries the flare of all the right elements of companions like Martha Jones and Donna Noble. Donna Noble in particular, possibly, echoing her telling the Doctor, “Sometimes I think you need someone to tell you when to stop.”

I like that Karen Gillan’s companion can do everything that the previous companions can do, and more, and all while still wearing her nightie.

from here.

I liked how the end of this episode tied into next week’s and I wonder if that’ll be something they strive for more of this year. That, and it seems, constant references to Amy’s always needing to be making choices (one episode towards the end of this season is actually entitled “Amy’s Choice”). Also, while there was no mention of the Pandorica or how “Silence will fall,” that mysterious crack in the wall of her childhood room (and the Doctor’s TARDIS console at the end of last week?) has seemingly followed Amy Pond into time and space.

Next up: Back to World War II, Winston Churchill, and the Daleks/”Ironsides” fighting on behalf of the Alliesor are they?

…In Translation.

Japan unveils humanoid robot that laughs and smiles.

Weekend At Bernies 3!

Holy fucking shit, there’s going to be a 2010 Lollapalooza.

Virtual hugs. Seriously.

Pictures of 16 year old Elian Gonzalez in a military uniform drive the Internet crazy.

Today’s mad linkage comes with a pictorial refresher for last week’s episode of Lost, with pictures courtesy of Videogum, which we discovered via Lola.

Erykah Badu charged with disorderly conduct for naked video.

The parents of bullies.

The right time and place for a conservative victory.

Ryan Gosling gives advice on how to get booty.

George Lucas to  team up with writers from Daily Show and Robot Chicken for a Star Wars sitcom.

Air Force to launch robotic winged space plane.

There are 4 women in orbit right this minute.

Female African-American Robot Designers.

What exactly is a Kraken? And why should he be released?

Hairless “Oriental Yeti” stumps experts.

10 crazy medical inventions that (thankfully) never caught on.

20 strange and mysterious medical syndromes.

“Holy Ghost” relocates his flock to Montana.

A preview for the next episode of Doctor Who, “The Beast Below.”

The Pentagon springs a WikiLeak.

Apparently there’s a certain four-letter word in tonight’s Lost that’s super important.

What happened to the water on Mars?

When the telepaths attack!

Early nearly cut off in machete attack!

Court rules against net neutrality!

Miniature Eiffel Tower attacked!