Television: Doctor Who and the Snowmen

"The Snowmen"

Christmas Eve 1892 and the falling snow is the stuff of fairy-tales. When the fairy-tale becomes a nightmare and a chilling menace threatens Earth, an unorthodox young governess, Clara, calls on the Doctor for help. But the Doctor is in mourning, reclusive and determined not to engage in the problems of the universe. As old friends return, will the Doctor really abandon humankind or will he fight to save the world – and Christmas – from the icy clutches of this mysterious menace.

Holy snow! Doctor Who is back–well, maybe not back-back–and it is awesome.

Number one: No, I did not miss Rory or Amy throughout the whole episode. Whether that’s because I’ve started to get used to the fact that the Ponds don’t really play that big a part in any of the Christmas specials is a claim that will be tested once the second half of the series finally airs. That said, while I love the Ponds, I did not miss them in this episode. Maybe I’ve moved on. Maybe I’m already in love with Clara. There’s so many Maybes, so let’s move on to–

Number two: The Doctor Who I fell in love with back in Series 5 is back. The last five episodes aired, the program’s farewell to the Ponds, were awesome and magical. But… How do I say this?

They don’t feel like the Doctor Who introduced us when Matt Smith and Karen Gillan first came along.

The episodes were brilliant and heart-wrenching–but it was way too smart. Aside from the premiere and the mid-series finale, the other episodes leave you with a feeling of being one-upped on. And, while I still loved the episodes–nay, the mini-movies–(way more than I do most of the episodes from Series 6), I couldn’t help but not like them as well. They’re too different.

Change is good, yes. And all the changes that have been made were in small increments. But small changes make up to a big change. And re-watching Series 5, though not a perfect series, made me realize that I have been steadily falling out of love with Doctor Who since Series 6’s The Rebel Flesh. Well since The Curse of the Black Spot, actually. But The Doctor’s Wife was such a stellar episode that my love for the show returned for a single episode, before returning to its slow wither.

With The Snowmen though– It’s hard to explain. It’s like, someone just flipped a switch and the magic was suddenly back.

Maybe it helped that the new companion isn’t completely a stranger. Jenna-Louise Coleman already appeared in the Series 7 opener, albeit with a different character. And while there are marked differences in the way her new character, Clara, is portrayed, you can’t help yourself from associating the two characters. They are, as you know, played by the same actress. That automatically gets her good will.

Clara is a wonderful companion. She was like Amy before Amy became inconsistent. (Which is odd, considering how everyone else remained true to form throughout Series 5, 6 and 7.) She’s like River Song, back when we first met her in Silence in the Library. She’s–she’s the perfect companion. We’re getting the perfect companion again. Someone who gives as good as she gets.

But I don’t want to get ahead of myself.

Her tenure as the latest partner in crime of the Doctor has just begun. I hope they don’t mess her up.

Going back to the episode though, the story doesn’t favor Steven Moffat’s usual timey-wimey twists and turns. Nor does it feature Moffat’s usual happily-ever-after endings for Christmas Specials.

The Snowmen definitely marks the beginning of a new era in Doctor Who.


Book: Lies


It happened in one night: a girl who died now walks among the living; Zil and the Human Crew set fire to Perdido Beach, and amid the flames and smoke, Sam sees the figure of the boy he fears the most: Drake. But Drake is dead — or so they thought.

Perdido Beach burns and battles rage: Astrid against the Town Council; the Human Crew versus the mutants; and Sam against Drake, who is back from the dead and ready to finish where he and Sam left off. They say that death is a way to escape the FAYZ. But are the kids of Perdido Beach desperate enough to believe that death will set them free?

Lies is the third book of Michael Grant’s Gone series, but I could’ve been fooled. What happened to the greatness I saw in Gone? Or the promise that was in Hunger? Lies falters in every way, and it doesn’t even feel like part of the Gone series.

After the events of Hunger, where the gaiaphage (also known as the Darkness) was defeated and Drake was finally killed, I was really hoping that author Michael Grant would now move on to more important things: like the discrimination issue, the ideal civilization that some characters wanted to build, the problems of leading a kid civilization, how they got stuck into the FAYZ (which stands for Fall-out Alley Youth Zone). Instead, we get a retread of Hunger, with a less likeable cast of returning characters, and a host of new ones who will probably die in the next book anyway.

And then there’s Alberto. After being set up as this ambitious power player in the second book, you’d think he’d play more into the events of Lies–but no. Save for one key moment with him and Quinn, you don’t even notice he’s there at all! Come to think of it, save from Astrid, none of the major players in the first two books seemed to have done anything at all.

This book feels like filler. Instead of moving the plot forward, we get another battle with the gaiaphage–whose first appearance already tips you off of its identity before it could be revealed as a twist in the end. Again, Little Pete and the gaiaphage battle it out with their powers, which runs under the main plot of Sam having a dilemma with his position as leader (again), of the humans versus mutants issue (still), and Caine’s bid for survival.

Actually, the only thing of note in this book is Caine’s group moving from Coates Academy to one of the islands. It’s basically set up for when Caine returns as a major villain. Oh, and it also introduces yet another psychotic villain who might replace Diana in the next books. Which I think is highly unnecessary.

Putting down Lies, I must say that I am not looking forward to reading the fourth book in the series. While Gone and Hunger didn’t differ much in terms of quality, and that was okay, I felt Lies should’ve started building up on what the first two books have already set up. But it doesn’t.

Author Michael Grant keeps introducing new characters into the mix, diluting what made the premise of Gone so interesting in the first place: a core group of kids take action into shaping up a new civilization as the one they’re used to falls apart. Instead we just another fantasy novel about kids with powers battling a force greater than them, and arguing during the rest periods from the war.

I hope that, in the fourth book, the author finally stops adding questions to the pile we already have–that he starts delivering answers already.

Strike that. I don’t actually mind more questions–so long as we’re also being given answers.

Like what happened to the laptop of Sam’s mom? What was she doing about Sam’s and Caine’s powers prior to the big disappearance?

We already have a theory by this time on why some kids have started to develop powers–but what is the logic behind the powers they manifest? Why aren’t all the kids developing powers?

I have so many questions. Now, I want answers.

Before I start ranting about the book again, let’s click away into other people’s blogs and see what they thought of the third book off the Gone series:
Kayla’s Book Chat
Winged Reviews
A Journey Through Pages
YouTube Review: BrandiMarie88

Book: The Mark of Athena

"The Mark of Athena"

Annabeth is terrified. Just when she’s about to be reunited with Percy–after six month of being apart, thanks to Hera–it looks like Camp Jupiter is preparing for war. As Annabeth and her friends Jason, Piper, and Leo fly in on the Argo II, she can’t blame the Roman demigods for thinking the ship is a Greek weapon. With its steaming bronze dragon figurehead, Leo’s fantastical creation doesn’t appear friendly. Annabeth hopes that the sight of their praetor Jason on deck will reassure the Romans that the visitors from Camp Half-Blood are coming in peace.

And that’s only one of her worries. In her pocket, Annabeth carries a gift from her mother that came with an unnerving command: Follow the Mark of Athena. Avenge me. Annabeth already feels weighed down by the prophecy that will send seven demigods on a quest to find–and close–the Doors of Death. What more does Athena want from her?

Annabeth’s biggest fear, though, is that Percy might have changed. What if he’s now attached to Roman ways? Does he still need his old friends? As the daughter of the goddess of war and wisdom, Annabeth knows she was born to be a leader–but never again does she want to be without Seaweed Brain by her side.

Wow. I just have to say… Wow.

When I started reading the book, I wasn’t expecting anything. I mean, I knew I was bound to like it–just like I did the previous Percy Jackson books. I didn’t expect that I wouldn’t like it. That I would find it tedious. Boring. And completely out of tune with the rest of the series. From my point of view, anyway.

You know how in television shows you get filler episodes? A whole episode where something happens, the main story is pushed towards where it’s supposed to go–but nothing significant actually takes place? That’s how I felt about The Mark of Athena. Filler. And to top it all off, it didn’t feel like I was reading a Percy Jackson book. Because none of the characters were likeable.

I’m trying to understand why exactly that is. I mean, all the characters we interact with in this book are characters that have already appeared before. All of them were likeable before. So what happened?

Could it be that author Rick Riordan took on too many heroes at a time? After all, in all the Percy Jackson books, we’ve only had to deal with three main characters at a time–and suddenly, there’s seven of them. And while he tries to balance that all the heroes get a moment to shine, the experiment falls flat as certain personalities tend to come out in a bad light during the parts where he does this. In fact, the moments when the characters splinter off into smaller groups are more enjoyable to read than the ones where they all appear.

More than that though, the book just doesn’t feel special. I don’t know if Riordan is finally running out of mythologies to twist and modernize, or if he’s finally getting tired of the mythologies… but this book just didn’t have the magic of his previous books. And that’s what it comes down to in the young adult adventure genre, isn’t it? There has to be magic.

No, I don’t mean literal magic. But in a genre that’s currently teeming with so many titles, you want a book that can stand out–that can make spending PhP 699 (or $11.98) worth it. And I just didn’t feel that with The Mark of Athena.

Oh, and don’t get me started on the twist that’s supposed to make you cry–but you won’t. Because you know that it’s a set-up. It’s been spelled out the moment– well, I won’t spoil it for the ones who want to read the book. Just… don’t get your hopes up.

I’m hoping that the next book, The House of Hades, is way better than this. Then again, I’m sure other people liked the book. Why don’t we check out what said people wrote about The Mark of Athena?
Throuthehaze Reads
My Book Musings
Rachel’s Reads
The Girl Who Read and Other Stories
YouTube Review: CassJayTuck


Television: Doctor Who and the Day of the Moon

Doctor Who "Day of the Moon"It’s Doctor Who Sunday!

The Doctor is locked in the perfect prison while Amy, Rory and River Song are being hunted down across America by the FBI, as the time-travelling adventure series continues.

With the help of new friend and FBI-insider Canton Everett Delaware the Third, our heroes are reunited to share their discoveries, if not their memories. The world is occupied by an alien force that controls humanity through post-hypnotic suggestion, and no one can be trusted.

Aided by President Nixon and Neil Armstrong’s foot, the Doctor must mount a revolution to drive out the enemy and rescue the missing little girl. No one knows why they took her. Or why they have kidnapped Amy Pond…

Last week, I couldn’t wait for Day of the Moon. The Impossible Astronaut was amazing, but it was all just a lead-up to what’s going to happen in the following episode. And of course, because I’ve been anticipating said episode, things started piling up in real life that made sure I wouldn’t be able to watch the episode until a much later time.

But I have finally seen the episode now, and I must say Steven Moffat, the master of wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey stuff, has done it again. Day of the Moon is an excellent hour of television, and caps the events of The Impossible Astronaut nicely. Then again, it did leave most of the questions raised by the series premiere unanswered–while adding a few more in the mix.

Emotionally-gripping. The latest episode of Doctor Who puts the relationship of Team TARDIS on the forefront while it deals with the events set into motion during The Impossible Astronaut. Amy and Rory’s relationship once again gets tested, and we get new information about the bomb Amy dropped last episode. But most importantly, we get our first confirmation that Team TARDIS (save for River Song) remembers everything that happened during Series 5. Well, they remember it from time to time anyway.

And these confirmations and developments are what makes this particular episode so powerful. You care if someone dies if you care about that someone. And Steven Moffat is definitely making sure we care about these people–and then he puts them in life-and-death situations.

I know our current Team TARDIS is safe for a few more episodes–the press photos they released of upcoming episodes prove that. But as Eleventh and Amy always say, time can be rewritten. Also, I wouldn’t put it past Steven Moffat to film fake scenes just to throw fans off the scent. He’s a wily one, that Moffat.

Next week, Team TARDIS goes head to head with pirates and a siren!