Saturday, May 28, 2011

Who Review: The Rebel Flesh

Why is this review almost a week late, you ask? Well, I shall explain. The problem was twofold. Part of it can be blamed on Jason's job and part of it can be blamed on iTunes. But mostly on iTunes. See, Doctor Who runs on Saturday evenings on BBC America. This means that they are usually available on iTunes for download on Sunday morning. This week, for whatever reason, it was not available until Tuesday. To top it off, Jason got stuck working nights all week, and we always watch Doctor Who together. We finally had some time together yesterday. And now I can finally review The Rebel Flesh!

As always, SPOILERS! Once again, just for this episode.

Incidentally, the title is much more intimidating than the working title for Curse of the Black Spot: The Rebel Fish. Yes, I just made that up.

So I guess I was wrong about the Sontarans showing up. Ah, well. Jason and I both called that the Doctor was going to get a "ganger." Not too much of a shock when he showed up right before the credits.

I really like the concept of the Flesh, and the complex moral questions that it raises. What if there was someone running around with your memories, thoughts, and feelings, who looked exactly like you? It actually reminded us of a miniseries called Jekyll, which was also written by Who showrunner Steven Moffat. Especially the scene were the one man was talking with his ganger about the day his son was born. Incidentally, I noticed that the "original" was wearing a chain with a ring on it around his neck, but the ganger was not. Continuity error? Or will this become important? Were any of the other gangers missing something? I may have to re-watch.

Once again, the TARDIS is in danger. That seems to be a thing this season. Put the TARDIS in peril, and kill Rory. Now we just need to be watching for scenes where Rory is left alone in the TARDIS...

The good thing about not getting to watch last week's episode until yesterday is that we only have to wait until tomorrow for the next one. This is especially nice with it being a two-parter.

Also, starting on June 1, I will have 30 Days of Doctor Who! Found this online and decided to do it.

1. Favorite incarnation of the Doctor
2. Favorite companion
3. Favorite villain
4. Favorite character
5. Favorite guest star
6. Least favorite character
7. Favorite episode(s)
8. Favorite series/season
9. Least favorite episode
10. Favorite scene/moment
11. Favorite scene or moment that makes you cry
12. Favorite scene or moment that makes you giggle
13. Favorite era visited by the Doctor
14. Favorite Doctor moment
15. Favorite Rose moment
16. Favorite Martha moment
17. Favorite Donna moment
18. Favorite Amy moment
19. Favorite relationship
20. Prettiest scene
21. Favorite location
22. Something silly
23. Something epic
24. Favorite accessory of the doctor's
25. Favorite TARDIS team
26. Scene or moment that makes you go "aww"
27. Scene or moment that makes you go "argh"
28. Favorite series arc
29. Favorite music or song
30. Why do you love Doctor Who?

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Crochet Project: Custom Care Bears

When I think of '80s pop culture, I immediately think of the Care Bears. I am too young to remember when they were actually popular, but when I was a little kid I thought they were the coolest thing ever. I have almost all of them, because my parents would pick them up at secondhand stores for my collection. To this day, I will buy almost anything with the vintage Care Bears (I do not care too much for their anime-inspired re-design). So when I saw this book at the fabric store a few years ago, you can bet I snatched it up.

Unfortunately, the book is now out of print, but a little searching should turn up some used copies.

Anyway, the book gives instructions for your basic Care Bear, followed by instructions to crochet the various "tummy symbols" for each bear. My first project from the book was Funshine Bear, one of the few I did not have in my collection already.

But as I was working on it, I realized the potential for customization here. My first thought was to do Cheer Bear (pink, with a rainbow) as Pink Floyd Bear (hot pink, with the prism from Dark Side of the Moon). This really got the creative juices flowing. With the right color/symbol combination, you could create a Care Bear reflecting almost any interest or hobby. I decided to test this by making my brother a Nintendo Bear for his birthday.

Here he is! Click on the pics for a full-sized view.

I used Vanna's Choice in (Nintendo-logo) red and white, with a Mario mushroom as the tummy symbol. I made the mushroom out of felt, rather than try and figure out how to crochet the exact shape. The eyes are also from felt on both bears, and the heart nose and foot pads are crocheted from embroidery floss. The instructions for the face and foot pads are included in the book. Funshine Bear's mouth is crocheted, but Nintendo Bear's is backstitched with the same yarn I used for the body.

Here is a close-up of the mushroom.

I found a picture online, printed it out in the exact size I wanted, and used that as my pattern and template. Then I used hot glue to attach everything together. There are several layers in some places. I glued the white spots onto the red cap, and then glued the red cap and white stem onto black and cut it out with about a quarter-inch border. The little "eyes" on the mushroom are backstitched right onto the felt, done before gluing onto the black. The whole thing was glued right onto the tummy, although you could sew it on as well. Sewing is probably the way to go if this is intended for a small child; it is less likely to fall off through normal wear and tear, and would be less likely to fall apart in the washing machine. Although the hot glue does stick the layers of felt together very well.

Other ideas I had:
-Sports bears: Made in team colors, with a football/basketball/whatever on the tummy
-Superhero bears: Black for Batman, red/blue for Superman (or Spider-Man), green for Green Lantern, etc, with the corresponding bat/S logo/spider/green symbol, etc on the tummy
-Star Wars Bear: Jedi symbol on the tummy
-Star Wars Bear (Dark Side): Made in black, with the empire symbol on the tummy
-Star Trek Bear: Made in gold, blue, or red, with the Starfleet symbol
-Doctor Who Bear: Made in TARDIS blue...not sure what the tummy symbol should be, though. The logo? Which one? It would be pretty tricky to do in felt. Maybe a police box.

You get the idea. I still want to make a Pink Floyd bear, though.

Question for the comments: What would you most like to see?

Friday, May 20, 2011

Wizard World Update!

Jason and I were looking up the updated guest list for Wizard World yesterday. I was thrilled to see Charisma Carpenter on the list. There are going to be a ton of Buffy/Angel alumni there, but she definitely takes the top spot on my list (sorry, James Marsters!). I remember the first episode of Angel I ever watched was their 100th episode special. I had no idea who this "Cordy" girl was, but I liked her, and I was completely baffled when she died--off-screen, no less--at the end of the episode.

Like I said, this was my first experience with a Joss Whedon show. Seriously, if I ever meet him I will not know whether to shake his hand or punch him in the face.

Since then I have seen every episode of Angel at least once. It is still the only show where I own the entire run on DVD. Cordelia is still probably my favorite character. I love how much her character develops, especially considering her start on Buffy. I think I will have her sign one of my DVD sets...I will have to see if she is on the cover of any of them.

Morena Baccarin is going to be there as well. I would love to meet her, but I have a feeling that would involve waiting in line with an uncomfortable number of creepy middle-aged men. I went to a panel last year (at Cyphan) with Jewel Staite, and unfortunately sat next to someone who must have been the inspiration for Fanboy. I felt so bad for Jewel having to answer his questions, which showed that he knew more about the show than she did. He was also leaning forward in his seat and preventing me from getting a decent picture. So yeah, my goal is to avoid guys like him as much as possible.

I am also still completely psyched about meeting Patrick Stewart and Christopher Lloyd. I already know what I want C.L. to sign. Last week, I found this on clearance at Toys "R" Us.

I want him to sign the hood of the DeLorean. I thought about having him sign the back of the package, but that would mean I could never open it. Personally, I have never understood the appeal of leaving toys inside the box. I want to take it out and play with it! And Jason still wants his (Sega) Genesis Device signed. I still think that is a brilliantly hilarious idea.

Now I just need to figure out what I want Patrick Stewart to sign...Man, Wizard World is going to be awesome this year. So excited!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Who Review: The Doctor's Wife


Again, just for this episode.

Jason and I thought it was hilarious that the title character is supposed to be...the TARDIS. In a weird way, I suppose it makes sense. They have been together for 700 years. Fans had suspected for years that the Doctor did have some sort of "relationship" with the TARDIS. I expect this episode spawned some interesting fanfiction. Or disturbing, depending on your personal feelings on that sort of thing. I loved their last conversation. Very poignant, that the last thing she wanted to tell him was, "Hello."

It was great to see the old control room set! Jason spotted that in the preview. Amy, Rory, and Eleven looked right at home. Unfortunately, if House really did delete it, that means it will not be returning again. Unless the TARDIS made a backup. One of the many things I love about Doctor Who is that anything is possible. Even the impossible. Especially the impossible, perhaps.

Now to begin dissecting clues from her final message! "The only water in the forest is the river." Jason pointed out that "river" probably refers to River Song. When I heard "forest" I thought of the Vashta Nerada. In case that fails to ring a bell, they were the shadow monsters that live in the forest, featured in River's first appearance in "Silence of the Library/Forest of the Dead." Honestly, I think Jason has a better chance of being right than I do. While the Vashta Nerada creeped me out to no end, they will probably not be making a return appearance.

The only thing I would have changed was giving the Ood a little more screen time. They seemed to have struck a chord with the fans; they are one of the few creatures from the new series who have appeared more than once. Overall though, this was an excellent episode. Cleverly plotted, very well written...I loved the actress who played Idris!TARDIS. I have a feeling this one is going to become a series classic.

Next week: Sontarans? Maybe? That is my Official Prediction.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Who Review: Curse of the Black Spot


But only for this episode; no arc-wide shocking revelations this week.

Hands up if the title reminded you of "Curse of the Black Pearl." Probably intentional, because of the whole pirate ship thing. I loved the Doctor's first line: "Yo-ho-ho! Oh...does no one actually say that?"

I thought this was a pretty good episode, but there were a lot of twists and turns and not all of them were fully explained. I thought the Doctor shouted, "Completely forget my previous theories!" a couple times too often. Still a good episode, though. I think shows that only do 12 or 13 episodes a season (rather than the more common 22) have a higher percentage of good shows. The writers presumably have more time to work on them, and each episode has to count.

I did think it was clever that the Siren is summoned through reflections because she is from the mirror universe (hands up if you immediately thought of Spock with a goatee!). I like how the pirate crew all decided to stay there. I loved how the captain immediately knew what everything was on the TARDIS. Oh, and I figured out that they would find the TARDIS if they allowed the Siren to touch them, because I recognized the disappearing effect. Once they got there, though, the ending seemed...rushed? I guess that is the best way to explain it. The Doctor was able to immediately work out exactly what was going on. "Hold on! She's not evil! She's a computer! This is a hospital! Amy, stick your hand in the circle and then you can take Rory!" After all of the Doctor's incorrect theories, I would have been hesitant to trust him on that one.

I was convinced that Rory had actually died...for about two seconds. I was already wondering, "If he dies, how are they going to bring him back THIS time?" Of course, if he had died, it could have given the Doctor and Amy an excuse to shack up. In other news, the Doctor is still going to die in the future and Amy is still sort of pregnant.

Next week: Neil Gaiman's episode! He has trailers and minor spoilers up on his blog. I cannot wait!

Side note: Read this article that I found out about from EPBOT. If you are/were a geek in high school, congratulations! You are more likely to be successful than the popular kids. Geeks for the win!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

May the Fourth Be With You!

Yes, May 4th, the unofficial Star Wars Day. I am celebrating by wearing my Lego Star Wars shirt that says "Support Our Troops" along with a picture of Lego Stormtroopers. I also have a geeky countdown to share with you: my Top Ten Favorite Aliens from TV and Film.

10. The alien from Alien. When it comes to villainous extraterrestrials, ALIEN can't be beat! From suffocating you, to bursting out of your chest, to managing to single-handedly wipe out almost the entire crew of the Nostromo, this is one seriously dangerous creature. "Fun" fact: in the original ending, the Alien was going to bite off Ripley's head and record a mission log in her voice. I think if it had ended that way, I would still be afraid to go to sleep with the lights off. Brr.

9. Chewbacca from the Star Wars movies. Who doesn't love Chewie? Not only is he incredibly big and strong, he is loyal to his friends and smarter than he appears at first glance. He needs no further explanation.

8. Harry from Third Rock from the Sun. The absent-minded, lovably stupid member of the Solomon family. Probably knows more about Earth pop culture than the rest of the crew, because he spends all of his time watching television. Has hidden depths. And a transmitter in his head, to contact their leader, the Big Giant Head. The BGH made a few appearances in later seasons, played by none. Other. Than. William. Shatner!

7. The guy who turns out to be an alien at the end from UHF. If you have never seen Weird Al's movie, it is worth checking out (and, at least at the moment, it is up in its entirety on YouTube). During the ending scene, it is revealed that one of the characters is actually an alien, complete with a transformation sequence and "beaming up" to his space ship. I do not want to give away who it is, because the surprise gave my brother and me one of the biggest laughs in the entire movie. Johnny still says it is his favorite scene. I will say that his character was originally going to be played by a young comic named Joel Hodgson. Joel declined, because he had this idea for his own TV show where robot puppets make fun of old movies. He probably made a good call there.

6. Guinan from Star Trek: The Next Generation. The thing that I find so intriguing about Guinan is all of the mystery surrounding her. She is very old, and wise, and her people were taken over by the Borg. She and Picard apparently have a history, which is never fully explained. Also, I love her costume. It looks like an intergalactic graduation robe and cap, available in multiple metallic colors! Whoopi Goldberg wanted a part in Next Gen because she credits Nichelle Nichols' Uhura as her inspiration to become an actress. So the writers created a character for her. Because Whoopi Goldberg is that awesome.

5. Delenn from Babylon 5. Jason introduced me to B5, and it is quickly becoming one of my favorite shows. It has a complex, well-planned out storyline and includes multiple alien races. Delenn is a member of the Minbari, who were at war with Earth before the show took place. She is the Minbari ambassador, and actually turned down a chance to be the leader of the High Council because it would mean giving up her position on B5. At the beginning of the second season (where I am now) she actually transformed into a sort of human-Minbari hybrid. She is pretty badass. I have a feeling she might move even higher on the list once I get further along in the series.

4. Ranger Mira Nova from Buzz Lightyear of Star Command. This surprisingly good spin-off from Toy Story featured a host of original characters, including a butt-kicking blue-skinned princess from the planet Tangea. She joined the Space Rangers after Buzz Lightyear saved her planet, and ends up becoming part of his team. Her ability to walk through walls, referred to as "ghosting," comes in handy pretty often. She is also a skilled fighter and knows how to stand up for herself. You know, for kids! And for once, I do not mean that sarcastically.

3. Yoda from Star Wars. Ancient and wise, he is. Voiced by Frank Oz, who was recommended for the part by his good friend Jim Henson. Mentor, dispenser of wisdom, and far more powerful than his size would make him appear. Subject of a song by Weird Al Yankovic. The shiznit Yoda is.

2. Spock from Star Trek. He is my favorite character from the original Trek, bar none. Any other choice would be most illogical. I am not sure exactly what it is about Spock. The ears, for one thing. Beyond that...I think he is a great foil for Kirk and Bones. He is the straight man during the really campy scenes, the outside observer who is not (entirely) human but still finds the human race "fascinating." Leonard Nimoy was actually responsible for most of Spock's trademark actions. He came up with the idea for the Vulcan nerve pinch because he did not think his character should get into fistfights. The idea to say, "Live long and prosper" was his too. He also suggested the Vulcan salute, but actually borrowed the gesture from the rabbi's blessing at the end of Jewish services. Oh, and he looks good in a 1920's gangster suit. On the awesomeness scale of one to ten, Spock is a perfect ten. To top him, someone would have to take the awesomeness up to...eleven.

1. The Doctor from Doctor Who. Oh, snap. See what I did there? 'Cause the Doctor has been played by eleven different actors? Right, then. Moving on. Where to start? The Doctor has been around since 1963, and is still going strong today, which makes it both older and newer than Star Trek. Sure, there was a period of nearly 20 years where all we got was a crummy TV movie, but you cannot keep the good Doctor down. I fell in love with the show during David Tennant's run, so he will always be the definitive Doctor in my mind. Still, Matt Smith and Christopher Eccleston are both very good. From what I have seen of the other Doctors, there is not a bad actor in the lot. The brilliant thing about Doctor Who is that it has evolved to change with the times. Your main actor is not interested in doing another season? No problem. He gets a big, dramatic send-off where he literally changes into his replacement. I could go on and on all day, but this post is long enough already. If you are a fan of the show, you know what I am talking about.

Question for the comments: Who is on your list?

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Who Review: Day of the Moon


Seriously, I think Steven Moffat is trying to give all of the Who fans a heart attack. This review assumes you have seen the ending. You have been warned.

Naturally, instead of answers, we end up with more questions. Only Doctor Who could have a character who is sort of pregnant. Time for more predictions! First, I think the Silence are going to continue as major villains in this arc. Even money on that one; they spent too much of last season building them up for just one appearance (even a two-part episode). Second, I think Amy's sort-of pregnancy is not connected to the junior Time Lord we saw regenerating at the end of the episode. I think the setup is a red herring, to make the audience believe that Amy and the Doctor got it on/will get it on. I am predicting this partly because you would get more mileage that way--two mysteries instead of one--and partly because I do not ship Amy with the Doctor. So where did the kid in the spacesuit come from? My guess: the Doctor and River. The "River is his wife" theory is looking a whole lot more likely now that they have kissed. Jason suggested (before we saw this episode) that River IS the girl in the spacesuit. It sounded intriguing at the time. Now we both hope that one is wrong, especially if she is Doctor/Amy's lovechild. Last week's predictions are all still unconfirmed.

I loved the idea of hiding the TARDIS inside the Doctor's prison! It was a brilliant plan. Good to know that Canton is still on their side. It is still strange to see him as a good guy, because his character on Leverage is such a slimeball. Matt Smith is almost unrecognizable with all that facial hair. In fact, until he spoke, I did not realize it was him. Oh, and parking the TARDIS on the side of the building to catch River after she jumps out of the window? Awesome!

The Doctor's explanation of the Silence was effectively creepy. The best horror stories provide a sinister origin for something people see every day. You thought you saw something out of the corner of your eye? Yeah. You did. You forgot where you were a minute ago? You encountered a horrible monster that makes you forget it even exists the moment you look away. You have probably seen it before. Maybe hundreds of times...but you always forget.

Good night, kiddies! Pleasant dreams...

As ancient conspiracy theories go, this one is pretty good. But the Doctor's sabotage was brilliant. Now the human race is programmed to rebel against the Silence, and they will still not remember a thing. Of course, our alien overlords will not be that easy to stop.

And underneath the story, we have all of the character interactions. I think the Doctor and Rory have a really interesting dynamic, and they are actually developing mutual respect for each other. Which will, of course, make it all the more painful if the Doctor turns out to be Amy's baby-daddy. The look on River's face at the end, when she realizes she will never get to kiss the Doctor again, was almost too painful to watch. Their relationship reminds me of Claire and Henry from The Time Traveler's Wife. As the title implies, Henry is a time traveler. Unlike the Doctor, he has absolutely no control over when he will leave, where he will go, or how long he will stay there. He is always popping in and out of Claire's life, although for once Doctor Who actually has the less complicated timeline. The book does a surprisingly good job of explaining things, though.

Season six is shaping up to be the most infuriating season yet.
What do we want?
When do we want them?