Hot cute girly geek (and mum) went to London.

Hi my hot cute girly geeks and boy geeks of course. Although I have been back for a couple of weeks now, I still want to tell you about my epic trip to London. Because I changed jobs and had a shitload of holiday days left at my old job I was able to book a pretty much last minute vacation to London.

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It happened that my mum had some holiday days left as well and we decided to go together. It’s been a couple of years that we went together on a holiday and we both love London.

Now, the thing is we don’t have the same interest. We do however share a couple of things we wanted to do together. For instance, I love going to a theatre, visit museums, spend half my day in Forbidden planet, while my mum basically loves shopping, which I hate. We do share a love of Doctor Who and Sherlock, although I’m a bit more passionate about it then she is.

We booked a hotel and train tickets and it also happened to coincide with my best friend’s trip to London with Theta, and of course we planned a quick get together.

After getting up really early on Thursday my mum and I boarded the train which took us from our home town to Rotterdam and from Rotterdam to Brussels and our final train to London. I love traveling by train, basically because I hate flying, but also about the no weight restriction and I always, always take extra stuff with me from London.

We tried booking into our hotel near Paddington station, but unfortunately the rooms wouldn’t be available for another half hour. So to Costa we went. I love Costa, I survive on Costa, and I need Costa in the Netherlands. Screw Starbucks with overpriced fancy coffees, I want a ridiculous large tea and chocolate goodies please!

I won’t bore you with the details but our first plan was already made, Covent Garden! And I had a particular mission in mind. In 2012 I met a guy who had a Doctor Who stall at Covent Garden and he was so nice to me, we chatted about Doctor Who, gave me huge discounts and was interested in a charm bracelet I made. I went back a year later, but he wasn’t there and I learned his stall isn’t open in the weekends. At that time I brought an Adipose I made for him with me and dropped it at the store he was affiliated with. This time I did find him and asked about the Adipose and he actually got it! He was so happy that he could thank me for it. But I also had a little sneaky plan. I brought with me some hats I knitted and he is interested. I’m currently waiting for a reply about actually selling my hats in his store. Oh and I bought some epic pictures for my wall.

We went to Leicester square to see if I could get tickets for Doctor Who, but it was sold out. I found another cinema which did had tickets and I went to the theatre to get a ticket for Richard III. It was sold out, but they told me they would release 7 tickets the next morning for a reduced price at 10 am.

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We were both pretty much knackered and decided to turn in early. On Friday I got up early to wait for a chance to get a ticket for Richard III. I got at the theatre around 8.30 and Just 1 guy was waiting for tickets as well. I had a pretty nice wait with this Scotsman and we talked about theatre, Doctor Who, museums and traveling. Luckily we both got tickets since we were 1 and 2 in line.

My mum and I planned on a visit to the Tower of London. We both wanted to see the poppy flowers they ‘planted’ there to remember the victims from the First World War and the Tower has always been on my list of things to see. It turned out to be a bust. For some reason I felt a bit unwell (actually a lot) and I didn’t see much.

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In the afternoon a trip to Forbidden Planet was on the menu and although my mum liked it, she pretty much found the only empty chair in the store to sit and wait for me geeking around and piling her lap with all the goodies I wanted to buy. Amongst others a signed book by one of my all-time favourite fantasy writers Robin Hobb!

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After a quick rest and a quick dinner I went to see Richard III. Wow, amazing, epic, brilliant, wonderful, molto bene! I will be doing a separate post about this play otherwise this one would be too long. But I loved every minute about it and I was amazed and blown away by the performance of Martin Freeman and his fellow cast members. Unfortunately he didn’t do any signings that night, but I did see him up close.

Saturday morning, Theta!!! What better way to meet up with your bestie in London is at Speedy’s cafe! We geeked out, including squealing and extensive hugging, much to the amusement of the staff hiding in the kitchen cheering us on. We exchanged presents, had a wonderful breakfast and took some geeky pics!

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We had some shopping planned and I got news that there was a Tardis at Parliaments square. Unfortunately I was too late, but Theta had planned a trip to Leicester square and texted me about the Tardis standing there. I left my mum to her shopping and rushed over to take some epic pics with the Tardis and a Dalek. I met a fangirling mum and daughter who loved my bag and I even leant her my sonic screwdriver to take some pictures.

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I made a quick stop at Waterstones Oxford Street to buy yet more books and we enjoyed an early pub dinner so we were on time to see Doctor Who at the cinema! It was amazing to share it with fellow fans including the buzzing of several sonic screwdrivers and such.DSC_0255 And no Doctor Who episode is complete without Jelly Babies!

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Sunday we planned a trip to Camden market. I’ve never been there and I heard it was pretty amazing, and it was. I found a cyber-shop who had the most amazing Matrix t-shirt, which was unfortunately way out of my price range, but I did manage to buy a new Sherlock shirt.

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I also got to introduce my mum to Byron burgers. I love Byron burgers, and now she does as well.

Monday was our last day and since we would be leaving after lunch my mum wanted to do some more shopping and I went to the National History museum. Note to self, not a good idea on a bank holiday. I really loved it, but boy was it crowded.

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We ended our 5 day London trip the only way you can, with an afternoon tea!

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And that was it. Of course I did way more things than I described, and I saw more epic things, and I’m already looking forward to going back in December. I miss London already.

Lots of love, your own hot cute girly geek Mendy (and mum).

Nintendo Updates!

Some important dates for Nintendo gamers are coming up in the near future! This is quite bad for me because I don’t have a job at the moment. Sigh, poor wallet, I guess I just have to skip some meals this month *priorities*.

Hyrule Warriors (Wii-U)
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This Dynasty Warriors/The Legend of Zelda spin-off game is already released in Japan. I’m really looking forward to it! Also, check out this awesome scarf that’s in the Limited Edition!
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- Europe: September 19
– Australia: September 20
– North America: September 26

Super Smash Bros 3DS

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I’ve been a fan of the Smash Bros series since Melee, and I think off all my Wii games, I played Smash Bros Brawl the most! The new installment will have a lot of female characters: Zelda, Sheik, Samus, Zero Suit Samus, Peach, Lucina, Palutena, and Rosalina. You can pick both genders for the following characters: Animal Crossing Villager, Wii Fit Trainer, and Robin. I really look forward to this installment of the game! I even got so crazy I pre-ordered this 3DS-XL version (which includes a pre-installed version of SSB3DS). And then… stuff happened. Read further to find out what! Oh yea, there is a rumour going on that there will be bundles available which contain 2 copies of the game (for a slightly cheaper price). That will be great if you want to play together with you brother, sister, friend, or partner!
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– Japan: September 13
– Europe: October 3
– North America: October 3
– Australia: October 4

3 Special 3DS-XL versions (US only)

The US was feeling a bit left out since the Limited Edition Super Smash Bros 3DS-XL version was only announced for Europe. But now they don’t have any reason to complain, since they will get the Limited Edition Super Smash Bros 3DS-XL both in red and blue (although the game is not pre-installed), a Persona Q 3DS-XL, and a NES-themed 3DS-XL. Damn you US.

- Super Smash Brothers 3DS-XL: October 3
– NES 3DS-XL: October 10 (GameStop exclusive)
– Persona Q 3DS-XL: October 10 (GameStop exclusive)

Bayonetta 2 (Wii-U)
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To be honest, I haven’t played Bayonetta 1, but my boyfriend did and it looks pretty darn cool. And check this awesome limited edition box (which also contains an artbook). The limited condition as well as the normal edition contain a disc with Bayonetta 1 (which was exclusive for PS3 and Xbox360), and since my boyfriend ordered the limited edition I think I’m going to play both games.

– Japan: September 20
– Europe: October 24
– North America: October 24
– Australia: October 25

Mario Kart 8 DLC (wii-U)


Last month Nintendo made some major updates available for the latest Mario Kart installment, and gave away free Mercedes DLC. No, I am not making this stuff up. We are now able to pick 3 different Mercedes carts (for the experts: the GLA, the W 25 Silver Arrow, and the 300 SL Rooster). But, we were in for a surprise! We were also able to pre-order 2 very awesome DLC packs, which will be available in a few months. The first pack is the Legend of Zelda Pack and adds 3 characters to the roster, namely Link (!!!), Tanuki Mario, and Cat Peach. It will add 4 new vehicles, including the Blue Falcon, and it adds two cups (= 8 tracks), which are called the Triforce Cup and the Yoshi Egg cup. The second pack is the Animal Crossing Pack and will add 3 characters, namely Animal Crossing Villager, Isabelle, and Dry Bowser. It will add 4 new vehicles and 2 cups, called the Animal Crossing Cup and the Super Bell Cup. Both packs will cost 8 Euro’s or Dollars seperately, but you can also buy them as a bundle for 12 Euro’s or Dollars. If you buy both packs, you will be able to pick between 8 different colours for Yoshi and Shy Guy.

I am extremely excited for this. This is the first time we will be able to play as charcters in Mario Kart which are not related to the Mario Universe, and I did really not see this coming. To be able to play as a character from my favourite franchise (I mean Link, duh) in Mario Kart is really amazing. Also, 16 extra tracks! That expands the game with 50%!

- The Legend of Zelda Pack: November 2014 (worldwide)
– Animal Crossing Pack: May 2015 (worldwide)

Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire (3DS)
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I did not want this game. I did not understand why it was necessary to remake Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire. But that was before these games were announced. NOW I NEED THEM. I can’t wait until November! There is also a limited edition steel box, but as far as I know, those are only announced for the UK. There is also a pre-order bonus (a small figurine of either Mega Groudon or Mega Kyogre), but it’s not really clear to me in which countries they give those away (sorry!). Also, remember the Smash Bros bundle I was talking about? I really hope they’re going to sell bundles with the 2 versions of this game too!

– Japan: November 21
– North America: November 21
– Australia: November 21
– Europe: November 28

Super Smash Bros U (Wii-U)
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This game will contain the same characters as the 3DS version, but will have different arena’s and will have a different soundtrack. Also, if you register both the 3DS version and the Wii-U version on Club Nintendo, you will receive a CD with the full soundtrack! The Wii-U installment will be released in December. No further details about the release date are known.

The ‘New’ 3DS

So I just told you guys I pre-ordered the Limited Edition Smash Bros 3DS-Xl right? 1 week after I did that, the New 3DS was announced. This beauty has a C-stick and 2 extra shoulder buttons. The angle for 3D view is bigger, and there are some technical improvements too (like bigger RAM and stuff). Some games (like Xenoblade) will be exclusive for the New 3DS. It comes in a ‘normal’ edition and an XL edition. So yea… I cancelled my Limited Edition 3DS-XL and decided to wait for this one. Although it hurt my heart a little. Oh yea, New 3DS is the official name. Nintendo doesn’t learn fast it seems (to clarify, when Nintendo announced the 3DS, it wasn’t clear to a lot of people that the 3DS was a next-gen handheld, since the name didn’t differ much from the previous handheld, the DS. Nintendo made this mistake again when they announced the Wii-U).

- Japan: October 2014
– Rest of the world: Somewhere in 2015

So yea, Nintendo has a lot in store for us! I hope I can find the time to write a review of each game I just mentioned. Are you guys planning to buy any of these?

Guardians of the Galaxy, a film review.

 

Hi my hot cute girly geeks and boy geeks of course. As I said in my previous post, I’m back I and I thought it would be nice to write a film review for a film that is surprising box offices all over the world by how popular it is. I am talking about Guardians of the Galaxy of course. Oh and beware of major spoilers ahead.

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First things first. I am not a comic geek, so that means I can’t give you detailed insight into how well the comic is adapted into a film. I’m sure there are plenty of reviews to be found online going into such a thing. This is merely me geeking out about the film and why you should see it.

Synopsis according to IMDB.com:

Light years from Earth, 26 years after being abducted, Peter Quill finds himself the prime target of a manhunt after discovering an orb wanted by Ronan the Accuser.

My thoughts:

Well, that synopsis is telling you absolutely nothing. And as I am typing this I am listening to Awesome Mix Tape Vol. 1. A must have for lovers of this epic Marvel adaptation.

I have the perfect target audience age to watch this film, as it starts in the early ‘80s where a young Peter Quill (It’s Star-Lord, just so you know) is abducted by aliens as his mother just died in the hospital. Where his father is, we don’t know and we get a small hint at the end of the film.

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We fast forward into present day and on some desolate planet we see a grown-up Peter Quill (Star-Lord) putting a strange device on his belt attached to vintage looking headphones. Yes kids, this is how we used to listen to music before we had mp3 players and smartphones. A portable cassette player.

Ok, can you be nostalgic at the age of 30? I mean, this whole movie is just one big nostalgic trip for me, with epic ‘70s and ‘80s music, references to old TV shows (ALF!) films (Footloose with Kevin Bacon) and plastic troll dolls with rainbow coloured hair. I don’t know whether to be super excited to see all these references or feel really old at the age of 30. But for me it was epic and pure enjoyment to see such thing.

I mean, who doesn’t remember sitting in front of the radio, listening to a music program, your tape in the cassette recorder and your fingers on the record button, creating your own mix tapes.

But to go back to the film. Peter Quill (still Star-Lord) has some groovy moves as he steels a futuristic looking orb and let that be the one thing just about everyone is after.

He double crosses the guy that abducted and raised him, trying to sell it, only to encounter a very green looking Zoe Saldana playing Gamora and Rocket and Groot.

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Rocket, a genetically engineered walking, talking and shooting raccoon (although he has no clue what a raccoon is) and Groot. Descended from a race of walking flora and resembling a sentient tree. And he talks, well, talks. He can only say ‘I am Groot’ but the moment you spot him, you have a soft spot for him. He is Rocket’s conscience and muscle man and he has an important part to play towards the end of the film. (Fun fact: Groot means big or huge in Dutch).

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As there is a price on Peter Quill (Star-Lord, yes we know) and Rocket and Groot are bounty hunters they try to catch him. But alas, they all get arrested for shooting and fighting in public, together with Gamora and land in a maximum secured prison.

Gamora turns out to be not so nice a person and the adopted (stolen) daughter of Thanos who turned her into the perfect killing machine, so most of the prisoners want her dead for killing their families.

Inside the prison we meet Drax (and he looks amazing, beautifully done.) A really big muscled man, looking for revenge.

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In the end they team up and escape the prison. Gamora knows someone who wants to buy the orb, so they venture onto the next planet.

In the meantime, Gamora’s sister (also adopted), played by the beautiful and ultimate companion Karen Gillan (what might the Doctor say about her new looks, not to mention Rory). She plays Nebula who wants to team up pretty much with the winning team at the time.

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Basically it’s one big epic fight over the Orb, Ronan on the one hand who wants the orb to destroy a whole planet, Yondu who wants to kill Peter (oh god yes, we know Star-Lord) for betraying him, and the good guys to prevent everything and save the planet Xandar.

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And throw in lots of humour, cool music, lots of great references to the ‘80s era, strange looking aliens, space ships, an amazing cast and beautiful decors and graphics and you have me sold.

In the end, of course the good guys win and they take the name Guardians of the Galaxy. Please wait until after the credits for a special bonus scene as Marvel does with all its films.

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And of course… dancing baby Groot! The cutest thing ever!

You have to watch this film, watch it, and go to the cinema, as in now. Just go, you won’t be disappointed. I want to go a second time and maybe I will. And this is definitely one to add to my DVD collection.

Have you seen it? What are your thoughts, did you like it?

Love, your own hot cute girly geek, Mendy.

Disclaimer: Picture credits to the official Marvel website: http://marvel.com/guardians

Hot cute girly geek is back.

Hi my lovely hot cute girly geeks and boy geeks of course. Guess what, I’m back!!! Technically I never went away, but these last few months have been crazy and it felt like my life was a rollercoaster.

I will explain a bit what happened and then I’ll go back to writing regular updates on my blogs for all the geeky stuff.

Ok, work first. I am a social worker and for the past seven years I’ve been working with drug addicts and homeless people. I love my job and I love my clients and the work itself. But even though the economy is picking up again, working in the mental health department in the Netherlands isn’t a good place to be today. Next year our general care and health system is changing and due to that change a lot of companies are afraid they won’t be getting enough money to take care of the people. And as a result a lot of people have lost their jobs or are about to lose their jobs.

I for one didn’t want to wait for that to happen and because of some other work related stuff (which I won’t mention), I decided to look for something else. In the meantime I’ve also been looking into changing careers and see if there was any opportunity for me to become a teacher, which is also a passion of mine. And of course I was looking into becoming an English teacher. And I even looked into getting a job in the UK and moving there. But because I only have a secondary school grade in English to show for, no University would have accepted me, and the same goes for jobs in the UK. You need to show you’re able to understand the English language. That’s why I have been studying to get my Cambridge CPE grade. A 10 week crash course to prep you for the exam.

And my boss had the bright idea to give me another course at the same time. So since April I have been managing multiple courses, and looking for new jobs.

I’m pleased to say I passed the exam for my English CPE and I am overjoyed with that. And to make things even better, after multiple interviews with different companies, I started my new job last Monday.

I now will be working as a Social Worker with disabled people, both physically and mentally, chronically ill people and people who have autism.

For me it also means I can cut back on my hours and have more time at home for myself, being chronically ill myself. And they don’t even mind that.

My new job is so much different than my old one. The people are nice, everything is arranged for us workers, you have plenty of time to develop yourself and I absolutely love it.

Of course I will miss things from my old job and some of the clients and colleagues, but after seven years it was time to go.

And due to changing jobs I also was able to book a holiday for me and my mum. We went to London for 5 days and we had a blast. Not to forget, I got the change to hug my bestie Theta, who was visiting London with his brother at the same time. And I saw the TARDIS and a Dalek and went to see Richard the III and the premiere episode of Doctor Who in the cinema and it was epic. Keep a look out for a London blog soon.

So that basically was my life the last couple of months. Job hunting, being stressed, learning, exams, taking care of a friend who crashed for a couple of weeks in  my house as well and things have settled down now.

I can look forward to learning loads of new stuff at my new job (I’m a knowledge geek), and a new trip to London in December, and even cooking a traditional Christmas dinner for the DCC!

Oh and I almost forgot. I contacted an artist who is now looking into changing this blog, yay! And I have a new guest blogger as well.

Thank you for being patient with me and I hope to hear from you guys and I look forward to going back to writing again!

Lots of love, your own hot cute girly geek, Mendy.

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Report: Abunai! 2014

Hello everybody!
As promised here is the report of Abunai! 2014. Note: I didn’t really feel like taking too much pictures, if you want to see some awesome cosplay pictures made at Abunaicon, visit http://www.nozlan.com (although pictures of Abunai 2014 are not online yet at the moment of writing)

Friday
After a 2 hour drive (I only got lost twice!) we arrived at NH Koningshof. There was a long line for the entrance, but that was a good opportunity to take in the atmosphere. We changed clothes at our hotel room (Sander (my boyfriend) as Animal Crossing Villager (sorry, no pictures! You can check my Abunai blog of last year!) and me as FemLink (again, no pictures, you can check my Tsunacon 2013 blog!).

Outside NH Koningshof

We walked around for a while until the dealer room opened. I was hoping to find a stand where I could buy a yukata (a summer kimono, lighter and easier to wear than a normal Kimono), but for the past 2 years, I didn’t manage to find one. This year, I was lucky! I found a small stand, but unfortunately, the yukata’s were a little out of my budget. But the nice seller told me that she would sell (relatively) cheaper ones tomorrow. Yay!

the dealer room

After dinner, we attended the cosplay fashion show and the EuroCos preliminary’s. Again, sorry no pictures! You’re not allowed to use flashes and it was really to dark to take good pictures otherwise. But I advice you to look for pictures of Him (from the Powerpuff Girls). He/She was amazing!!! Because it started one hour (!) late, we didn’t stay until they announced the winners because we wanted to attend the Masked Cosplay ball.

The Masked Cosplay Ball was kind of a set-back. There was the opportunity to learn how to ballroom dance, but they forced everyone to listen, which didn’t work. But I think I can do the quickstep now… Also, the music ranged from classical Ghibli songs to Mambo no. 5. After that, time for bed!

Saturday
Saturday morning I wanted to go to the dealer room as fast as possible to buy a yukata. And yay! I bought one! I’m so happy with it! After I bought my yukata I got changed to my Great Fairy Cosplay (Twilight Princess). It looked quite awesome, but I took the liberty to forget that I have apparently an extremely large head, so the wig was killing me! We took some pictures and played Mah-Jongg (maybe I’ll write a blog about Mah-Jongg in the future) but after 1,5 hour my headache became too strong so I changed into my yukata.

After that we attended the Cosplay Act Competition, which sadly wasn’t as good as last year, but still amusing (also, about 50% of the acts was a dance act). Again, we didn’t stay until they announced the winners because we wanted to attend a panel of Lisle Wilkerson, a American/Japanese voice actress (Hello Kitty, Tekken e.o.). She was born in the US, but moved to Japan when she was 5 and moved back when she was 35. She told us some funny and interesting anecdotes the differences between living in Japan and the US. She’s a really fun, nice and interesting person!

After dinner we attended to the Cosplay In Japan panel, where 2 professional Belgian Cosplayers told us about the differences between European cosplay culture and Japanese coslplay culture. There was a really nice and informal atmosphere and we learned about some interesting events we want to attend in the future.

Finally, we went to Otaku Millionaire, where you were able to win tickets for Animecon. Sander even managed to get to the preliminary’s but the questions were so hard that nobody won. It was fun though!

Sunday
Sunday we both didn’t cosplay because we had to check out of our hotel room, so we didn’t have the chance to change back. After some last rounds through the dealer room, we attended to the AMV (Anime Music Video) competition, which was excellent this year! Usually, there are some bad ones, some average ones and some great ones, but the majority this year was great and only a few were average. As alywas the AMV competition inspired me to watch some anime I’ve never heard of (White Album 2 and Kyoukai No Kanata). After the AMV competition it was already time to go home.

our loot

Overall Experience
This year was amazing! Because we had a hotel room at the location itself we could change multiple times a day and we didn’t need to drag a bag everywhere. The panels where really fun and intrusting and I’ve never seen such a good AMV competition. And I’ve finally bought a yukata!

Oh, I almost forgot! I found W.I.T.C.H. cosplayers! W.I.T.C.H. is my guilty please, expect a blog about it in the future!

Doctor Who Series 8 Review – “Into The Dalek” (Writers: Phil Ford & Steven Moffat)

“Welcome to the most dangerous place in the universe”.  This week, the Doctor and Clara are called in to do a bit of psychoanalysis on a Dalek… but who is  the more dangerous, the patient or the Doctor that’s treating it?

Just when you think everything possible could be done with the Daleks, Phil Ford and Steven Moffat uses them to shed light on what makes the new Doctor tick through a story that tips it’s hat to the 1966 film “Fantastic Voyage” and, even, the 1977 classic era story “The Invisible Enemy”.

The story starts off with a bang… literally… as the Doctor rescues main supporting character Journey Blue from an attack by a Dalek attack ship, but if anyone’s expecting all out action this episode, they may be disappointed as, despite the explosions… and there are a lot of them, this is more of a character piece with the Doctor at centre stage and the viewer being challenged in their belief that the man we have been watching for the last fifty years truly is the Doctor.

Two plots form the basis of the story.  The main “A plot” sees the Doctor and Clara, much as against the Doctor’s initial instincts, be pressed into service to help an injured Dalek who has developed a positive conscience.  During the course of the story, we are taken on a journey inside the Dalek and see the Doctor come face-to-face with his own prejuidices and that he may not be the hero that he believes himself to be.  Alongside this, he is challenged by Clara into seeing that the viewpoint he has been carrying with him since he first encountered the Daleks – one that he is right and the Daleks, by the fact that they are genetically and mechanically hardwired to hate, are wrong – may be as bad as the Daleks themselves.

The “B plot” sees the introduction of a new potential TARDIS member and, more importantly, a potential love interest for Clara in Danny Pink.  Danny is introduced as a teacher at Clara’s school and leader of the school’s Cadet Corps.  He is also seen as a man who has a past and an uncomfortable one at that, as witnessed in the seen when he is asked by a student as to whether he has killed people, including , possibly, an innocent, in his past as a soldier – something that we have recently seen the Doctor himself consider in “The Day Of The Doctor”.  he is also seen as a normal guy who has his own doubts and insecurities when it comes to matters of the heart and is a bit of a klutz when it comes to romance.

 

As I said earlier, the script works on using the action-adventure trappings to tell a character driven story. You see great snappy dialogue and well written characters working alongside explosions that Michael Bay would be proud of, if he was working on a television budget. If I had to level a criticism at the story, it would be at the pacing which gets a solid first half only to have the second half rushed through – certainly from when the Dalek is cured from the radiation leak – which made the story a little difficult to follow, even on a second showing.

As with the previous story, this “Into The Dalek” is directed by Ben Wheatley and he brings the same cinematic sensibilities right from the off – I mean, when have you seen a scene in “Doctor Who” with a fighter being pursued by a Dalek command carrier with that pace?  There are the big bangs and explosions in this episode, but I’ve never seen Daleks destruction done with so much style and glitz.  But this is only part of what Wheatley brings to the table as he brings a naturalism to the way the quiet moments and dialogue scenes are directed – something which is difficult for a sci-fi adventure series when you have so much technobabble flying around such as “nanoreduction” and “trionic radiation”.  There have been some really great directors since the programme returned in 2005, far too many to mention to list off, but based on the track record of “Deep Breath” and “Into The Dalek”, Ben Wheatley should be given a return engagement on the series.

 

 

Peter Capaldi builds upon the series opener to make a more rounded Doctor.  When he’s alone with Clara, the Doctor trusts her enough to allow him to be introspective and have doubts as to his character with the theme of the episode being whether he truly is a good man – something that has been a fixture since the Series Six episode “A Good Man Goes To War”.

In public, the Doctor appears to have lost a lot of his social skills, apart from demanding that Journey uses manners rather than a gun as a means to returning her to her base ship, the Aristotle.  He is abrasive, rude and dismissive of people, whilst having an element of what can only be seen as narcissism when he believes,incorrectly, that he has been proven right and there is no such thing as a good Dalek.  In fact, he has become like an intergalactic version of Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock.

But the most interesting aspect of his Doctor comes later in the episode when he forms a psychic link with Rusty The Dalek. The fact that a Dalek not only sees the beauty and wonder of what he has seen in his travels but the darkness of his soul and his hatred for the Daleks and what they represent shakes the Doctor to his core.

Don’t mistake this Doctor as being a dour type though. Peter Capaldi displays as whip-sharp comic timing as David Tennant or Matt Smith. The only difference is that he manages to make the sass of this Doctor more naturalistic and less like a defence mechanism. He doesn’t care what the universe thinks about him and that’s what makes this Doctor funny. (For example, calling Clara his “carer”).

The term “carer” and the way the Doctor defines the phrase perfectly encapsulates how Clara’s role fits into this story and gives Jenna Coleman with another meaty performance this week to build upon the redefined Clara from last week. The role of the companion, certainly in the modern era, has been to serve as the human balance for the Doctor and keep him in check. Clara certainly fulfills this role in this story as she becomes not only his conscience, but his teacher. The Doctor’s entrenched hatred for what the Daleks represent blinds him from the fact that a Dalek once made good can be so again.

Jenna also convinces in the scenes where Clara has to have the hard conversations that all friendships have. You know the ones… Where your bestie asks you to be honest and give you their opinion both barrels, no matter how uncomfortable the topic. Jenna manages to convince in being put in a corner and having to be brutally honest with the Doctor. She doesn’t know if he’s a good man, which certainly rings true following her admission to Vastra that she doesn’t know who her friend is any more.

The budding friendship/romance between Clara and Danny is entertaining and not overplayed. The choice of Clara being the assertive person in the relationship certainly rings true of her character, but you have to wonder whether her control freak nature will be able to stand up to living two distinct lives.

Samuel Anderson is given a nice low key entry into the role of Danny. There’s no big entrance – in fact, it’s a low key entry that matches up to the introduction of characters like Rory and Mickey, but it’s a great move for Danny to already have a mysterious back story from his time as a soldier. I’m already of the belief that the Doctor and Danny will lock horns in the future especially as Danny will serve to be an uncomfortable reminder of what the Doctor was during the Time War.

As with Jenna’s performance in the relationship, I like the tone that Samuel has set for Danny. He has the reputation from the headteacher as being a bit of a ladies man, but nothing could be further from the truth with the cross cutting scenes showing Danny rehearsing what he really wanted to say to Clara which eventually lead him to headbutting a desk.

Zawe Ashton gives a nicely pitched performance as Journey Blue. Yes, she’s a soldier and her focus is on the mission and, in the early scenes, on her brother, but the character also shows thethat if the situation was different she could have been a potential companion – especially as she makes the decision not to destroy Rusty upon her Uncle’s orders which is reminiscent of the scene in “The Doctor’s Daughter” where Jenny shoots a steam pipe to stop Cobb from following her rather than killing him. However, she isn’t given that option by the Doctor at the end of the episode solely on the basis of her being a soldier rather than who she is.

As with “Deep Breath”, there is a very brief cameo by Michelle Gomez in the role of Missy – this time greeting the minor supporting character of Gretchen into “Heaven”. This is becoming intriguing because Missy only seems to be claiming the lives of those who have been killed in the Doctor’s adventures.

“Into The Dalek” is a story that will no doubt polarise opinion. On the one hand, fans will enjoy the story for the fact that it seems to set the direction of this series in that the Doctor’s adventures aren’t always nice and jolly and that maybe the Doctor isn’t the safest person to be around. On the other, people could see it as a story where the Daleks are being used again with the purpose of establishing that it’s the same programme that’s been shown over just short of 51 years. I have to admit that I enjoyed it despite the pacing of the second half and I hope for a strong run as Series 8 move forwards.

Doctor Who Series 8 Review – “Deep Breath” (Writer: Steven Moffat)

To pinch a phrase from the 1996 “Doctor Who” television movie, “He’s back… And it’s about time.”

It’s been just over a year since Peter Capaldi was introduced to an expectant worldwide audience as the latest version of Gallifrey’s most well known wanderer.  Since then, he crashed the programme’s fiftieth birthday party and complained about the colour of his kidneys upon his regeneration on Christmas Day.

Rather than go through a blow by blow account of the episode, I would take a more general view of the episode itself whilst focussing on the two leads.

Regeneration episodes are usually a means to handing over the role to “the new broom” and, in certain cases, to act as a marker for a change in tone for the programme.  Whilst it was a case of business as usual in The Christmas Invasion following the handover between Christopher Eccleston and David Tennant, there was a shift in tone when Tennant handed over to Matt Smith – thanks not only to the change in leading man but in showrunner from Russell T. Davies to Steven Moffat.  Gone was the straightforward adventuring of the Tenth Doctor to be replaced with a “fairy tale” tone.

“Deep Breath” sees another tonal shift, not only due to the change in lead, but in story style. The story starts off very much in the style of Tom Baker’s opener “Robot” as we are greeted with a disorientated Doctor.  Vastra even echoes a line used by Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart at the end of Jon Pertwee’s last story (which was reprised in “Robot”) when she says “Here we go again”.

The opening credits give a change of emphasis – looking at time as well as space as we move through clock cogs and planets accompanied by Murray Gold’s unnerving opening theme – which also signifies a tonal shift for the incidental music which changes from the fairytale feel of the Eleventh Doctor’s era into something more cinematic and unnerving for a Doctor who is unnerving and likes the “big stage”.

As the story moves onward with the Doctor becoming less and less disorientated, the story tone shifts again becoming darker and more reminiscent of the classic era story “The Talons Of Weng-Chiang”.  Whereas in “Weng-Chiang” a cellar underneath a Victorian theatre doubles as a laboratory and place for the villain of the story to “feed” on the life essences of young women, “Deep Breath” sees a dining establishment become the front for organ donation to the story’s antagonists.

It was a smart move by the production team to make this story feature length.  Not only does it give us time to not only get used to, as well as wrong footed, by the new Doctor, it allows the room for the story to progress at a more even pace, something that was a problem with “Series 7B” with some stories being wrapped up too quickly when they could have benefitted with a one hour episode.

The appointment of director Ben Wheatley did pique my interest.  After all, he was fresh from directing the dark comedy “Sightseers”.  However, it’s his skill as a feature film director and one who can do dark comedy that makes him the ideal choice for this story.  The pacing of the story was judged perfectly whilst the humour isn’t out of step with the story’s darker premise.

The choice of opponents in this episode was an interesting one.  On the surface, it could be seen as another example of Steven Moffat recycling old plots with the story being linked to the Series 2 story “The Girl In The Fireplace” through the Clockwork Droids and their use of human body parts to sustain their technology, but this isn’t really an appropriate comparison, or a valid argument, in this story.  This is very much a story about whether change makes you the same person.  The Doctor questions “Half Face Man” as to whether he is the same creation than he was when he started changing his organic components.  The Doctor not only questions himself about his own change, but is challenged by Clara as to whether he is the same man that she travelled with up to their fateful journey to Trenzalore.

As with the aforementioned “Robot” and “The Christmas Invasion”, the transition of Doctor and tone is aided with a return of familiar core characters, in this case Vastra, Jenny and Strax.  Whilst on the part of Strax, this provides a sense of comic relief, the roles of Vastra and Jenny are to challenge Clara into accepting the new Doctor especially as he trusts Clara enough to drop the boyish mask of his predecessor for a face more in step with his real Doctor

 

Moving on to the regulars and I have to say that this was the perfect opener for this new Team TARDIS.

 

One of the faults of the character of Clara was that she was basically a plot device for Series 7B in that she was The Impossible Girl which caught the Doctor’s curiosity rather than a character.  This was no fault of Jenna Coleman who has always given strong performances.  In “Deep Breath” Clara became a fully fledged character which matched the power of Jenna’s performance.

From the outset, Clara has her misgivings about this new Doctor, some of it with good reason as I will get into later, but this provides the character with more layers.  Whilst Vastra protects the Doctor by telling Clara that he removed the boyish “mask” of the Eleventh Doctor to reveal his “true” face because he trusted Clara, she counters that it is her passion for knowledge and seeing underneath the surface of a person is what drives her relationship with the Doctor.

But, the most telling aspect of this new version of Clara is during her confrontation with Half Face Man.  Her hallucination shows the background to her emotional intelligence and she uses it to, in effect, become the Doctor as she tells Half Face Man that you can’t run a negotiation by starting at the worst case scenario and working downwards to a lesser standpoint.  She also makes a point of saying that she is scared for her safety, but by doing this the character doesn’t weaken, if anything she becomes stronger because she is at her most human but she is still defiant.

Yes, there are jokes at the expense of Clara’s need to control the situation and the Doctor’s “diagnosis” of egomania, but I’m glad now that the metaphorical elephant has been led out of the room and whilst this relationship is an uneasy truce at present, I’m glad that the partnership is one that stems more from friends – such as the Doctor and Donna who are my favourite pairing since the series returned – than through any form of love interest.

These differences change the role of Clara, not only in relation to the Doctor but as an individual, and I’m looking forward to seeing the direction that Jenna takes this new version of the character.

 

As for Peter Capaldi, he has come over as probably THE most complete incarnation of the Doctor on debut, not surprisingly really given how accomplished an actor he is.  This is a Doctor not only of contradictions as he tries to find his new self, but of bringing together the whole character of the Doctor where you can see those twelve other incarnations ebbing and flowing around each other.

This is a Doctor who not only shows an apparent unreliability of the early Sixth Doctor but uses it as a ploy to be ahead of his opponents like the manipulative Seventh Doctor by using Clara to get information for him.  You have him speaking of the larger values of human lives and endeavour like the Fifth Doctor whilst planning that he has to coldly persuade Half Face Man that he should commit suicide (or killing him) for the good of planet Earth in a manner worthy of the Ninth Doctor.  All the while, he is the weary and lonely traveller that was the War Doctor whilst having the boyish Tenth and Eleventh incarnations fire up his enthusiasm in escaping through windows, riding horses or, for a brief glimpse, showing that the man that Clara travelled with to Trenzalore is trapped within a new body.

But referencing should not be mistaken for lack of character development and Capaldi manages to invest the role with a strong sense of how he wants the role to move.

This is a Doctor who is very much a hands off version of the character – cold, isolated and combative, but he’s also a man who is lonely and in need of the right type of company – as seen in the “I am lonely” scene where it’s ambiguous whether he’s translating the dinosaur or he’s deliriously speaking about himself or the “phone call” scene where he asks for Clara’s help whilst being unable to hug her or show her affection.

He has the fire and rage that we know the Doctor has always had, but it’s more on view in this incarnation rather than hidden under a facade of joviality and conviviality.  This is an angry Doctor who now feels that he can complain and rage against the universe just because he has become apparently Scottish.  (I had to laugh at the fact that his eyebrows want to be independent from the rest of his face which is surely a sly commentary (neither pro or anti) on the forthcoming Scottish Independence referendum).

This is also a Doctor who is aware of the damage he sweeps along with him.  He shows it in the big moments when the dinosaur is murdered by Half Face Man by feeling sorry for the fact that he brought her to Victorian London, but he also shows in the little ways – most notably when he tells Clara that he can’t be her boyfriend and that he feels the one to blame for the relationship becoming one of a romantic footing.

It’s going to be interesting how the Twelfth Doctor continues as to whether he wrong foots and challenges the people around him and the audience.

 

Returning to the phone call scene, what a great return by Matt Smith to round out the Eleventh Doctor’s tenure in the TARDIS.  I felt that the regeneration scene itself gave a sense of closure for the Doctor by returning back to the beginning through his hallucination of Amy, but I commented that the scene sidelined Clara.  So it was lovely to see his time properly finished by using the last moments of “Eleven’s” life to ask friend to help ‘”Twelve” be the Doctor – I mean, who better to guide a scared Doctor than the companion who probably knows him better than any companion he has travelled with.

 

Another surprise scene is the inclusion of Missy aka the Queen of the Nethersphere at the end of the story.  Michelle Gomez uses the last couple of minutes of the episode to set her stall out as the story arc for Series 8, portraying the character like a deranged Mary Poppins with a stalker complex.  She calls the Doctor her boyfriend and likes his new accent so much that she thinks that she’s going to keep it.  This last couple of minutes leaves us with a lot of questions – and disquieting ones at that.  Who is she in relation to the Doctor?  What is “Paradise”? And, most disturbingly, did the Doctor convince Half Face Man into destroying himself or did he murder him for the good of the many?

 

The title of the episode “Deep Breath” isn’t so much about the holding of physical breath, as in the cases of Clara, Vastra, Jenny and Strax, but a metaphorical one – a “leap of faith”, if you will – in so much that we now have a Doctor in our midst who whilst being on the side of the angels is no longer a safe companion to travel with.  There have been comparisons with other “era” openers in the modern era floating about and I feel that this is unfair, not only to “Deep Breath” but the other openers as they have told the story that needed to be told to launch a new incarnation of the Doctor.

I have a feeling that the remaining eleven episodes are going to be a bumpy ride for “Twelve” and Clara and I can’t wait for what happens next.