DOCTOR WHO 5.1 (31.1): The 11th Doctor Will See You Now!

The Doctor and Amy

“I’m the Doctor. Do everything I tell you, don’t ask stupid questions, and don’t wander off.”

Oh, how I love DOCTOR WHO, my favorite TV series of all time — and how eagerly I have been waiting for the dawn of the 11th Doctor’s era. I am elated to report that “The Eleventh Hour” was worth the wait. And whether you consider this Series 5 of the new era or Series 31 overall, we fans are going to be all right. Under the guidance of new show-runner Steven Moffat, new star Matt Smith and companion Karen Gillan, once again, the Doctor is in!

While this may not have been the best story, it worked wonderfully as an introduction to — and reboot of — DOCTOR WHO. It really captured the manic charm of the series. It echoed the past just enough to please this old fan without alienating fans of the revival and casual viewers. It ranks right up there with the very best initial Doctor stories.
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GLEE 1.15: The Power of Madonna

Sue's new look

GLEE channeled “the power of Madonna” this week — not that the show needs to borrow anyone else cachet at the moment — and the episode was even better than last week’s. GLEE is moving from strength to strength with the initial installments of the back nine, with next week’s story being even better still.

But this week the show cashed in on an offer from one of its highest-profile fans, after Madonna made her entire songbook available to the high-school musical series. The result is an inventive, funny episode peppered by a plethora of the Material Girl’s songs.

If you think about it, it makes perfect sense that Sue Sylvester would worship Madonna — she is the very personification of a self-made woman. And Madonna’s quote, “I’m tough, I’m ambitious and I know what I want. If that makes me a bitch, okay,” clearly would not be unusual as a line of dialogue coming out of Sue’s mouth.
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STARGATE UNIVERSE 1.13: Paradise Lost

T.J. is able to ignore Caine.

Far and away the best part of this week’s STARGATE UNIVERSE was that it focused on T.J., finally giving Alaina Huffman a chance to show off her range. (The worst part was Dr. Caine’s alien worship, but the less said about that, the better.) I know with such a big cast that characters have to wait their turn, but I have been impatient for Tamara Johansen to take the spotlight.

Up until know, T.J. has been subsuming her personal desires for the good of the crew stranded aboard Destiny. She has been forlorn at missing her chance ‘gate back to Earth from the Icarus planet and attend medical school in San Diego Seattle. As a paramedic, she is the only trained health professional on the Ancient ship, and has to perform duties above and beyond the call of duty. But every now and then, we catch a lost look in her eye, like she is dreaming of something that might have been. And then there are those lingering glances at Col. Young; the unspoken details of what passed between them.
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LOST 6.12: Hugs for Hugo

Libby jogs Hugo's memory

“Everybody Loves Hugo” is the kind of episode that every LOST fan can love: not only did viewers get to see old friends Libby and Michael again, there was some important new information.

Checking in on Hugo in the L.A.verse, we saw he is still a sad-sack, despite being a rich, philanthropic businessman. His mother still gets on him about meeting a woman. And then he does. And what a woman she is!

There was something off about Libby — as once again personified by Cynthia Watros — from the moment she appeared. And it was more than this strikingly beautiful woman crossing the room to talk to Hugo. She insisted that she somehow knew him. Or felt like she should know him.“Do you believe two people can be connected, like soul mates?” she asked him. Of course, we at home know they are connected, and are soul mates.
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SURVIVOR: Heroes vs. Themselves

Russell

Regular readers of this column know that I do not usually write about the so-called “reality series” because I do not like them. I would rather listen to a sink backing up than the caterwauling on AMERICAN IDOL (and the singers are pretty tough on the ears, too!) And I would rather be homeless than endure a night in the BIG BROTHER house. However, SURVIVOR is one of the few unscripted series I enjoy (along with THE AMAZING RACE and UNDERCOVER BOSS — yay, Tiffany Network!) and, as I have pointed out before, this season’s HEROES VS. VILLAINS is SURVIVOR at its absolute best.

Not only are the competitions exciting, but the intra-tribe squabbling is great soap opera. Each physical challenge was played in a previous season, so some contestants are already familiar with the obstacles. Add that to the familiarity with the other players, and practically every challenge — reward or immunity — becomes a grudge match. At least the rate of physical injuries has slowed.

The power struggles within the camps earlier in the season were a riot, as would-be alpha dogs battled for supremacy. But now that the power structures have stabilized the emphasis is on…well, survival. As veterans of the game, everybody knows there are “secret” alliances among players, so they all talk openly about alliances; seeing what people reveal (or don’t reveal) shows home viewers a lot about character.
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FRINGE 2.18: Gotta get back in time

Walter

FRINGE always does strange and off-the-wall pretty well, but this week’s episode excelled at creating a sense of melancholy that hung over the story like low cloud cover.

Genre demigod Peter WellerRoboCop himself, who will always be known as the eponymous hero of The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension – guested as Alistair Peck, a scientist who discovered a way to travel back in time. While his mission was selfless – he wanted a chance to stop his fiancée from being killed in a car crash 10 months ago – his methods were selfish: His technology consumed huge quantities of energy; energy that was sucked out of electrical devices and human beings alike, killing them. Mad scientists like Peck are usually played with eye-rolling mania or loopy enthusiasm, but Weller played Peck with quiet determination. He was undermining his own humanity by replacing his own body with mechanical parts, so matter if were to lose something as ephemeral as a soul? Peck said it himself, that science itself is God; technology is the only higher power he needs. (And no, the irony was not lost on me that Weller was playing yet another tragic character that was more machine than man – and this time it was his own doing.)
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BEING ERICA 2.13: Pick a Door, Any Door…

Give Erica a hand...

Before moving on to the greatest time-travel series of all…er, time this weeked – a little series called DOCTOR WHO — I would like to close the book on the most recent season of the best time-travel series currently on the air that is not called…well, you know.

The second season saw humungous changes for Erica Strange (the adorable Erin Karpluk). She went from a bewildered patient undergoing time therapy she barely understood, to essentially a therapist-in-training when she was enlisted to help Kai understand the limits of this line of treatment. Along the way, Erica’s relationship with Ethan blossomed and then withered, as she grew to understand that they were simply not right for each. Erin and Ethan experienced everything from a foray into a sex club to arguments over her career – and they locked horns every step of the way. Ethan’s lack of support for Erica’s business aspirations devastated her – almost as much as his vision of the future, in which they are married with kids and a dog. “We are in completely different places,” Erica sniffled, her eyes welling up. “I don’t think that we’re right for each other. And there’s no amount of talking that will fix it. I think we should break up.”
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