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TV Review: Doctor Who 11.2 “The Ghost Monument”
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Dr. Geek, Ph.D.   |  
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Doctor Who 11.2 The Ghost Monument BBC

Doctor Who
Season 11, Episode 2 “The Ghost Monument”
Directed by Mark Tonderai
Written by Chris Chibnall
Starring Jodie Whittaker, Brady Walsh, Tosin Cole, Mandip Gill, Susan Lynch, Shaun Epzo
BBC America
Air date: October 14, 2018

And now, it continues. The Season 11 premiere of Doctor Who left the Doctor and her new companions floating in empty space. It was both a great visual and a cliffhanger with huge jeopardy. It was so huge in fact, that writers have to resort to some pretty significant gesticulation to hand wave it away. As Douglas Adams wrote in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, the chances of being picked up in space by a passing spaceship in the 30 seconds that you can hold a lungful of air are 2^2079460347:1 against. Adams rationalized those odds to some comedic effect using a spaceship with Infinite Improbability Drive. So how does writer Chris Chibnall dig himself out of that hole? We find out in the follow-up episode, 11.2 “The Ghost Monument.”

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TV Review: Doctor Who 11.1 “The Woman Who Fell To Earth”
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Dr. Geek, Ph.D.   |  
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Doctor Who 11 1 The Woman Who Fell To Earth

Doctor Who
Season 11, Episode 1 “The Woman Who Fell To Earth”
Directed by Jamie Childs
Written by Chris Chibnall
Starring Jodie Whittaker, Brady Walsh, Tonsin Cole, Mandip Gill, Sharon D. Clarke, Samuel Oatley
BBC America
Air date: October 7, 2018

At last, it begins. After many long months of waiting since Peter Capaldi regenerated, the Jodie Whittaker/Chris Chibnall version of Doctor Who has begun with Episode 11.1 “The Woman Who Fell To Earth.” This season will be shorter than the last few (ten episodes instead of twelve, plus Christmas special), but honestly, it’s all worth it if they’re at least as good as this first one. Steven Moffat is a good television writer and a decent producer, but his plotting and pacing can feel terrifically dense. It’s like eating champagne and caviar all the time and you just want a well-made pizza. This show is that simpler but no less satisfying meal and it sketches out a new course for Doctor Who that could be a very pleasurable ride.

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Comic Review: Doctor Who: The Thirteenth Doctor #0
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Dr. Geek, Ph.D.   |  
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Doctor Who: The Thirteenth Doctor #0 cover banner

Doctor Who: The Thirteenth Doctor #0
Single Issue | Digital
Writer: Richard Dinnick
Artists: Mariano Laclaustra, Georgia Sposito, Ariana Florean, Claudia Ianniciello, Iolanda Zanfardino, Neil Edwards, Pasquale Qualano, Rachael Stott
Inker: Fer Centurion
Colorists: Color-Ice, Carlos Cabrera, Adele Matera, Dijjo Lima, Enrica Eren Angiolini
Letterers: Comicraft’s Sarah Jacobs, John Roshell
Titan Comics
Release Date: September 26, 2018

Beginnings, they are such tenuous times. Except on Doctor Who, where nearly every beginning is also an ending. In less than two weeks, the Doctor returns to our television screens with a new face: Jodie Whittaker. To celebrate a moment that’s only happened a dozen times in the last 55 years, Titan Comics assembled Doctor Who: The Thirteenth Doctor #0 with an intriguing premise.

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TV Review: Doctor Who 2017 Christmas Special
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Dr. Geek, Ph.D.   |  
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Doctor Who 2017 Christmas Special Twice Upon A Time

Doctor Who
2017 Christmas Special “Twice Upon A Time”
Directed by Rachel Talalay
Written by Steven Moffat
Starring Peter Capaldi, Pearl Mackie, Jenna Coleman, David Bradley, Mark Gatiss
BBC America
Air date: December 25, 2017

A long time ago, in a place not far, far away, it ends. The TARDIS arrives in a snowy landscape, an aged and fading First Incarnation of the Doctor leads his companions Ben and Polly out onto the Antarctic landscape in 1986 where the Doctor first encounters the Cybermen from the planet Mondas. After being taken prisoner aboard a Cyberman ship, the Doctor looks weak and confused. He insists on returning to the TARDIS. He tells his companions to “keep warm” and heads out into the snowy cold. Then, a voice is heard and a figure appears. It is the Doctor in his Thirteenth Incarnation!

With “Twice Upon A Time,” two eras end in Doctor Who: the tenure of Peter Capaldi as the Doctor and that of Steven Moffat as executive producer and showrunner.

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TV Review: Doctor Who 10.8 “The Lie Of The Land”
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Dr. Geek, Ph.D.   |  
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Doctor Who 10.8 The Lie Of The Land BBC Simon Ridgway/Stuart Manning

Doctor Who
Season 10, Episode 8 “The Lie Of The Land”
Directed by Wayne Yip
Written by Toby Whithouse
Starring Peter Capaldi, Pearl Mackie, Matt Lucas, Michelle Gomez
BBC America
Air date: June 3, 2017

Ever since the dawn of modern mass media, there has been this concern that media has a meta-textual element designed to mislead the public. Call it subliminal advertising or even the Discordian fnord, but there is always this notion that the newspapers, the TV, the Internet that people so willingly and gleefully consume is actually putting us to sleep somehow. Though it informs us, that very act also allows it to control us. It creates a method for the direct manipulation of the human psyche, and since mass media systems make the replication of controlling information so easy, the many can be controlled by the very few.

This dystopian idea of control through mass media is what Doctor Who examines with Episode 10.8 “The Lie Of The Land.” Having established last week that a new alien species (the Monks) has arrived on Earth that behave something like a shadowy, Illuminati-like group, the gimmick of “The Pyramid At The End Of The World” was the setup for a choice. Bill (Pearl Mackie) must pick the uncertain future of life on Earth with the Monks, or let the Doctor die. She chooses the former, and now we see what life with the Monks looks like.

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TV Review: Doctor Who 10.7 “The Pyramid At The End Of The World”
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Dr. Geek, Ph.D.   |  
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Doctor Who 10.7 The Pyramid At The End Of The World BBC

Doctor Who
Season 10, Episode 7 “The Pyramid at the End of the World”
Directed by Daniel Nettheim
Written by Steven Moffat and Peter Harness
Starring Peter Capaldi, Pearl Mackie, Matt Lucas, Togo Igawa
BBC America
Air date: May 27, 2017

This week on Doctor Who, the Doctor continues his adventure in the world of the occult conspiracy thriller. An Egyptian-style pyramid appears in the middle of a hot zone in Central Asia. The Doctor and Bill are summoned to investigate. The Doctor is still blind, and has not yet told Bill about it.

What do they find? What does it all mean? The episode pulls together some interesting literary symbols and ideas in order to create jeopardy, but it falls apart a bit at the last minute. To find out why, read on…

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TV Review: Doctor Who 10.6 “Extremis”
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Dr. Geek, Ph.D.   |  
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Doctor Who 10.6 Extremis BBC

Doctor Who
Season 10, Episode 6 “Extremis”
Directed by Charles Palmer
Written by Steven Moffat
Starring Peter Capaldi, Pearl Mackie, Matt Lucas, Michelle Gomez
BBC America
Air date: May 20, 2017

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the term in extremis means in extreme circumstances; especially: at the point of death. After the horror and jeopardy of “Oxygen” last week, what does that mean for Doctor Who? It cannot mean the Doctor, can it? Given a fifty year history of the Doctor’s survival, that seems highly unlikely.

No, what we get with this week’s episode, “Extremis,” is part Dan Brown and part the Wachowskis as something new menaces Earth. We also learn a lot about the mysterious vault, and this season’s long story arc. Our twelve episode journey for the year is now half over. Let’s see what it is all about.

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TV Review: Doctor Who 10.5 “Oxygen”
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Dr. Geek, Ph.D.   |  
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Doctor Who Episode 10.5 Oxygen

Doctor Who
Season 10, Episode 5 “Oxygen”
Directed by Charles Palmer
Written by Jamie Mathieson
Starring Peter Capaldi, Pearl Mackie, Matt Lucas, Kieran Bew, Mimi Ndiweni
BBC America
Air date: May 13, 2017

Ah, now that’s more like it. After a somewhat tepid attempt at atmospheric haunted house horror last week, Doctor Who brings us a full-throated example of zombie horror in Episode 10.5 “Oxygen.” Drawing on a diverse series of film influences that use horror and jeopardy to entertain as well as launch social and economic critiques, experienced Doctor Who hands Charles Palmer (“Smith and Jones,” “The Shakespeare Code”) and Jamie Mathieson (“Mummy On The Orient Express,” “Flatline”) create a tense, kinetic episode that is much of what Episode 10.4 “Knock Knock” wasn’t and raises the average quality of the episodes this season to a very respectable place. More about the episode and its influences after the jump.

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TV Review: Doctor Who 10.4 “Knock Knock”
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Dr. Geek, Ph.D.   |  
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Doctor Who Episode 10.4 Knock Knock

Doctor Who
Season 10, Episode 4 “Knock Knock”
Directed by Bill Anderson
Written by Mike Bartlett
Starring Peter Capaldi, Pearl Mackie, Matt Lucas, David Suchet
BBC America
Air date: May 6, 2017

What do “normal” days in the world of Doctor Who look like? It’s an interesting question. Exposure to the Doctor and his magic box seems to create a hyper-real existence where you meet aliens, humans, leviathans, and gods. Embarking on the hero quest, one cannot help but be changed by it. Does that mean that the TARDIS is a Pandora’s Box? Once that box is opened, the forces unleashed do not seem to be something that can simply be turned on and off like a switch… or can they? In Episode 10.4 “Knock Knock,” we see Bill try to have an ordinary day, with the Doctor along for the ride as little as possible. Luckily for us, she fails.

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TV Review: Doctor Who 10.3 “Thin Ice”
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Dr. Geek, Ph.D.   |  
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Doctor Who 10.3 Thin Ice Peter Capaldi Pearl Mackie

Doctor Who
Season 10, Episode 3 “Thin Ice”
Directed by Bill Anderson
Written by Sarah Dollard
Starring Peter Capaldi, Pearl Mackie, Matt Lucas, Nicholas Burns, Asiatu Koroma, Peter Singh
BBC America
Air date: April 29, 2017

This week, Doctor Who Episode 10.3 brings us a veritable melange of different topics. We get some costume drama. There is also some criticism of the class structure of British society. There is even some [gasp!] confrontation of race issues. Yet somehow, we also get to have a good deal of fun. The show feels quite sure of itself and is willing to take a few risks (albeit small ones). Those gambits largely pay off and take the Doctor and Pearl to a few places the show rarely goes. It’s thin ice, in more than one sense.

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