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Saturday, 23 June 2012

The Doctor. The Villain.

You know what? I've been thinking... 

(This is a bit wordy, so please bear with me! And yes, I know this post is just speculation like everything else, but it's what I think people seem to miss when they talk about this storyline. We take the Doctor's goodness for granted).

There's been a lot of debate on Gallifrey Base and around the internet about how odd the plans of the main villains from series six - The Silence - have been. First they apparently tried to blow the universe up and blame the Doctor, so say many on forums, then they trained his Mrs to assassinate him. But why? Why not just use their obvious capabilities to put him out of action in a way that's easier than the convoluted, round-the-houses way they have done? As I've said, I've been thinking. Here's why I think we're calling the wrong people "Villain". (* = Probably)

THE SILENCE

We've been told that the Silence are "a religious order" who were formed to prevent... something... happening when the Doctor answers a Question on the Fields of Trenzalore - a place where, it seems, nobody can tell a lie. If you answer a question, you'll have to do so truthfully... there's nothing else for you to do. When said question is asked of the Doctor and he answers in his honest way - as he must - something awful will happen*. It's what they are all about. It's what they want to prevent. It's what they were founded to prevent! And since they have insider knowledge that this will indeed happen unless something changes, they pledge to stop the Doctor ever reaching Trenzalore. If he never gets there he can never be asked the Question so he can never answer it so nothing bad will happen. Silence Must Fall. And the best way to assure it does is to see that the Doctor is out of play.

MADAME KOVARIAN

Assisting The Order Of The Silence in their quest to stop the Doctor reaching Trenzalore is Madame Kovarian, a capable woman herself! She seems to be the leader of the more organised sections of the Order. She leads an army all of her own and they're also capable. She's an outside contractor brought in by this Religious Order to assist with the capture or kill of the Doctor. 

What she isn't is the boss. She's not the leader of the whole Order, as some seem to believe. She's a middle-(wo)man. The whole Turn River Into A Weapon thing was her doing (see PLAN B, a little lower down the page). But the order came from (or was approved by) those above her in the pecking order. 

THE MONSTERS

Allied to the Order Of The Silence are a species that you will forget as soon as you've seen them. Bulbous-headed and seemingly vicious, they have been hiding on Earth, scavenging technology and whatever else they need from a human race that simply forgets they are there. It's the perfect hiding place - in plain sight, but out of mind. These Silents are the footsoldiers acting for the Order on Earth. 

We've seen them electrocute, then disintegrate, an innocent woman in the toilets of the White House in 1969. We've watched them drive a kind-hearted Orphanage worker out of his mind through contact with them and their unique ability. The Silents were the architects of the plot to send every enemy the Doctor had ever faced after him by framing him for the impending end of the Universe (see PLAN A). And maybe it's time to look a little closer to the ways in which Kovarian, the Silents and a previously-friendly Church of Clerics have tried to halt the Doctor in his tracks, stopping him ever getting anywhere close to the ill-fated Trenzalore incident.

PLAN A

Plan A has been seen by many on internet forum sites and elsewhere as a bit stupid; "why would the Silence want to destroy the Universe? Surely that's counter-productive? And if that wasn't their aim, surely they're intelligent enough to know that blowing up the TARDIS would take much of existence with it? If you think this, I have this to say to you: You're not quite getting it!

Plan A was actually this! Trick the most dangerous and capable races in all of history into thinking that the Doctor will fly his TARDIS into one day in the near future and there it will explode, taking all of history with it. Obviously, even the most evil of the sane races in the Universe don't want this. So they all form an Alliance and swear to capture the Doctor, trap him in the ultimate prison - The Pandorica - and by doing so, stop him ever taking that TARDIS to the ill-fated date of The End Of The Universe - for dramatic purposes, Amy and Rory's wedding day. Of course, it did have to be a day the Silence knew the Alliance would KNOW the Doctor would visit; no good setting the explosion for midnight on January 3rd 1920 since there's no guarantee he'll ever get there, so there's no immediate threat. All the Silence needed to do would be to set the TARDIS to explode, through whatever complex means they can, when it reaches a specific time and date, one the Alliance would be unable to miss if watching the Doctor. They chose the one day they knew the Doctor would visit - an explosion would happen pn the day when he would drop Amy home to get married. 

Since they seem to think that only the Doctor can pilot the TARDIS ("The Doctor in the TARDIS doesn't know...") everything should be fine once the Alliance trap the Doctor and lock him up for good. What they didn't count on is the Doctor's squeeze. River. She, too, can pilot the TARDIS and does so, unfortunately, just when she shouldn't. And so play out the events of the Series Five finale.

And there it is, Plan A fails. The Doctor escaped his prison, reboots the Universe and the unintentional race toward Trenzalore continues... So it's time for Plan B!

PLAN B

Grab the Time Baby, conceived on the Wedding night following the failure of Plan A, and turn her into a sleeper agent, primed to kill the Doctor. 

So Kovarian takes Amy while pregnant, replaces her with a Flesh Avatar, and "cultivates" a weapon by tweaking the DNA of this already-special baby. But the Doctor, being awesome, notices that there's something not quite right with Amy. He figures she's Flesh and triggers the events of A Good Man Goes To War. Unfortunately for arrogant old Mr Who, Kovarian has set a double-bluff trap (of course he was going to come after them!) and whisks poor Melody Pond away to start her life of training! The seed is planted that she must find the Doctor and stay as close to him as she can! Which,  as his wife, is pretty close.

In Let's Kill Hitler we see Melody become the River Song we know and love. She plants a killer kiss on his lips and off she goes to have fun. But, because this is the Doctor we're talking about, she can't stay away long and ends up sacrificing her remaining regenerations to save his life. Not what the Silence wanted to happen at ALL! She's the weapon, but it would seem that someone else needs to be the one pulling the trigger.

A bit of fiddling by the Silent Monsters and a 1960s NASA space suit is ready for use as an energy weapon. One that River can be put inside, one that will take her against her will to a lakeside confrontation with the Doctor. Poor River. Poor Doctor. 

Of course, she's River Bloody Song and she's not going to let a space suit force her to kill the man she loves! So she depletes the power in the weapon systems and spoils time. Cue the events of The Wedding Of River Song, during which we see that the Doctor is, again, one step ahead. He's figured out a way to cheat death and keep the Silence off his back at the same time! Ladies and gents, THE TESSELECTA - a robotic shape-shifting device staffed by miniaturised people. Shrink the Doc down, shove him in a robotic Doctor suit and allow River to kill THAT, all the while the Doctor and his TARDIS are safely sealed inside. 

THE OUTCOME

It now seems, to the Silence, that the Doctor is dead and burned. River is imprisoned for his murder and there is no chance whatsoever of our hero reaching Trenzalore. That means the Question will never be asked of him. That means he won't ever be able to answer. That means the awful thing the Silence are trying hard to prevent* is prevented. Job done. 

BUT

Our Doctor just can't bow out, can he? He's still alive and now, after a chat with Dorium's head, he knows that the Question he's due to answer at Trenzalore - the one the Silence have destroyed universes to prevent being answered - is out there, waiting for him. Since he's still alive he's still destined to reach the dreaded Fields of Trenzalore! And now he knows something else: The Question is all about him. About his origin, or his name, or his identity! Doctor Who?! How on earth do you expect this madman with a box to stay away from that?! At least when people thought he was alive the Silence were there to prevent this awful situation! Now he's presumed dead I think it's fair to presume that the Silence are sitting about in the HQ Bar back on Demon's Run, sipping White Russians and playing cards! 

So who's the villain here? The Silence have only really killed one person in cold blood, as far as I remember. That woman in the toilets back in '69. But how else would they have been able to drop the hint to Amy that she needed to share her baby news with the Doctor? What if the woman had called for the guards? What if they'd come in and shot the Silent dead there and then? Couldn't have that. Collateral Damage. Other than that - and yes, I know this whole post hangs on the point that the Silence are trying to prevent something terrible happening, but that's how it's played out, right? - all the Silence have done is their very, very best to prevent the answer to The First Question being given. 


It's our Doctor that is hell-bent on pushing forward, reaching Trenzalore, showing himself again. When he reaches the Fields (as he inevitably will) we know it'll be at the Fall of the Eleventh - probably the Doctor's death and justly so! I'm sure he doesn't mean to doom us all, but it seems that once he gets to Trenzalore that's just what he'll be doing, against all the warnings of the Silence throughout the last two years.

I just hope the Silence can sober up in time to save us from the Doctor's reckless behaviour before it's too late. Don't be too harsh on the Silence, they're trying to stop a mad man with a box from unleashing a terrible fate on us all.

TEAM SILENCE!!!


Sunday, 17 June 2012

Red Lights - Don't Look Too Closely For Them

The cast of Rodrigo Cort├ęs' second offering all have something to prove. Sigourney Weaver and Robert De Niro, especially, have spent their recent years filling stunt-cast roles in dead-in-the-middle-of-the-road movies starring "new actors" - the equivalent of that Charlton Heston cameo in Wayne's World 2. But I'm completely convinced that Red Lights is not only a great big "sorry" from them, but also a "we can still do this, see?".

Firstly, I know this review is wordy and lacking in details. I would love to write a "spoiler filled" review but I honestly believe that it would be an awful thing to do. So, you'll have to make do with a bare-bones synopsis and just enough vague comment and enthusiasm to annoy. So...

The premise of the film is age-old; Sceptics investigate paranormal activity with varying results. Here, a University psychology lecturer Margaret Matheson (an iron-clad performance from Weaver) and her physicist assistant Tom Buckley (Cillian Murphy, proving here that he is every inch a leading man) spend their ample time and dwindling financial backing trying to expose fraudulent paranormal happenings - seances, faith healing, spoon bending - by looking for what they call red lights; the clues on show, to those who know where to look, which reveal the fakers' methods. The first hour of the film is, indeed, a fascinating how-to showcase of the methods used by table-tippers, mind-readers and money-grabbers. And it really is great. not only interesting and insightful but a perfect rationale, setting us up for the film's second act...

Which is this: Blind stage psychic, Simon Silver (a perfect performance by a recently-rubbish De Niro), once enjoyed success to rival that of Uri Geller in the 70s. He was the world's most popular paranormal performer, churning out psychic surgery, levitation and mumbo-jumbo to audiences of thousands. That was until a journalist who dared to heckle Silver at a show some years ago collapsed and died before he could so much as utter the word "fraud". Those convinced of Silver's powers were shaken by the possibility that maybe, just maybe, Silver psychic'd the journalist to death. Those more sceptical championed more grounded foul play. And now Simon Silver has come out of retirement for one last hurrah.

Determined to reveal Silver as the fraud he must by (surely?) Buckley sets out, with his hi-tech gear, to get him, against all the warnings from Matheson, who learnt long ago not to go up against the powerful and resourceful Silver.

And so the film drives towards a seemingly predictable final act via a generous sprinkling of genuinely unnerving set-pieces, successfully deployed jump scares and a rather brutal (even OTT?) fight sequence. Either Simon Silver is a powerful fraud hell-bent on keeping his secret or he's a genuinely powerful individual with actual psychic abilities... but which is it? The film does its best to lead you down blind alleys, make you look in the wrong places and listen to the wrong people, and make guesses as to the outcome the whole way through. And yet it still manages to slip twist after twist past you without you realising that you've probably already thought of them, about an hour ago, "when he did that, or said this, or appeared be whatever". And that last comment - that you'd have already thought of the twists - is not a complaint. It's not a negative in any way. In fact, it's a perfect safety-net for a closing sequence that, in one single line uttered by Psychic Silver, sends the audience into a spin that changes the direction you thought the film was heading, whatever direction you thought it was heading.

The ending of this film will divide audiences, there's no question about that. I'd say a good 70% of you will think "that ruined it". That's not how I felt at all. In fact, when the answer to the Silver Question arrives, when he makes his admission (sort of), I felt that the rug had been pulled from beneath me and a smile spread across my face. This is the sort of film you can watch at least three times, in three different ways, and enjoy on three different levels. And genre-wise, too, it has levels. If you like jumpy suspense movies, watch it and jump. If you like sceptical, intelligent, thoughtful thrillers then this is for you. If you're looking for a paranormal drama then, sure, take that. It's everything you need it to be, a load of what you never expected for one second and only a little bit of what you wish it wasn't. But then, if it was perfect, I would be giving it that last star.

This film is packed with great supporting turns from Brits Toby Jones, Joely Richardson and Craig Roberts and a lovely little performance from Elizabeth Olsen. The only bad performance comes at the very start, from the hairdresser-cum-medium at the seance, but I wonder if that was deliberate? Oh, and eyes open for a fantastic 70s-era De Niro impression. One word of warning, though: Don't search TOO closely for this movie's Red Lights; it was the journey to the reveal and the surprise that comes from it that made this film such an edge-of-my-seat pleasure to watch. Wonderful stuff.

   ★ 

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

It's Been A While...

Oh, hello! Sorry. I've not posted anything on here in a while... I've been pretty busy with one thing or another. But now I have a little more time on my hands I promise to start blogging again more regularly. So, shall we have a little catch up?

First off, DOCTOR WHO! Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill have finished their time on the show. Amy and Rory Pond/Williams are set to leave the Doctor and the TARDIS in a story to be shown later this year. The new companion will be played by Jenna Louise Coleman who, we have found out, will be called Clara. 

That's pretty much all we know at the moment, so there's not much more to tell. But there'll be lots more to come, no doubt! So stay tuned.

Honestly, I am really sorry for not blogging in months. I feel like I've got to get my mojo back now. Like I've forgotten how to do this properly (though some may argue that I never did it properly in the first place...).

What else has happened? Ummmm..... OH YEAH! The Jubilee! There were some boats, then a concert (with Madness playing on the roof of Buckingham Palace, complete with a street of houses projected on the palace front, which looked great!) and then today there was a parade or something. Then the Queen went to bed because she's eighty-fucking-six and she doesn't give a shiny shit about the Jubilee herself! So that was nice too.

This really is a post about nothing, I'm afraid, but I'm warming up to some cracking reviews of things I've watched recently (well, in the last few months) including blogs about Homeland, The Apprentice and a sarcastic one about RTD's upcoming kids' drama/fantasy Wizards vs Aliens! One last time: sorry I've been gone so long...

Oh, and last night we won the Quiz Of Rassilon... No big deal.