STARGATE UNIVERSE 1.17: Oh, the Pain! The Pain!

Honestly, I dreaded the approach of this week’s episode of STARGATE UNIVERSE because the previews made it look like the silly old “alien makes you face your worst fear” cliché was in full effect. Sooner or later every show gets around to this hoary chestnut, and I figured SGU better just get it out of its system. To make it seem even worse, the fears glimpsed looked to be standard-issue dull; I mean, claustrophobia? Really? Why can’t some alien force somebody to face the terror of…speaking in public? Supposedly most people dread that more than dying!

Happily, the actual episode proved to be much more enjoyable than anticipated. Not stunningly original, but at least well-executed. As usual, the excellent cast stepped up with some terrific performances (special kudos to Elyse Levesque for her conflicted Chloe), and the direction kept the story moving at a good enough pace that the audience did not have time to linger over the overly familiar plot points.
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DOCTOR WHO 5.4 (31.4): “The Time of Angels”

The Weeping Angels are back! What more do you need to know for an outstanding episode of DOCTOR WHO? Okay, how about Steven Moffat is writing it – and he has brought back the enigmatic River Song for good measure.

I absolutely love the way Moffat incorporates actual time travel into his plotlines. He really takes the…er, time… to think about how to make it interesting. The sheer audacity of River Song’s plan is awe-inspiring, and another inventively brilliant gambit by Moffat. Her escape ploy makes perfect sense because it doesn’t matter when the Doctor gets her message – he has a time machine, and can arrive in the nick of…yes, time. The character of River Song (Alex Kingston) herself is intrinsically tied to all things “timey-whimey,” as she is from the Doctor’s personal future. “We keep meeting in the wrong order,” he tells Amy about her. And it is no small thing that River Song is a mystery to him; very few people have that honor. In part, this is because he refuses to learn much about her because she is a figure in his future. As River Song herself would put it, “Spoilers!” At least he is still that much of a traditionalist about the laws of time. (That’s quite a backpedal from “The Waters of Mars,” in which he declared the Laws of Time would obey him!) In order to keep track of the Doctor, River Song has pictures of all his faces –a sort of “spotter’s guide to the Doctor” – because he never shows up in the right order. (You might be tempted to suggest this time is the exception, because the 11th persona naturally follows the 10th, but think about what happened in “Forest of the Dead” – she should not meet 11 “next.”) Ever the cool customer, River Song plays it coy when Amy asks if she’s his wife.
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