Category Archives: david tennant

Fright Night 2011

Fright Night ~ Now I’ve never seen the original film that this 2011 remake is based on but when I saw that there was a special movie premiere on board the Disney Dream of Fright Night starring fan favorite “Doctor Who” David Tennant, I had to be there. The audience, mostly tweens for an R rated flick, was the polar opposite of the other experiences I had had in the Buena Vista Theatre on board the ship. The kids weren’t all right. Let’s put it this way, up until about five minutes into the film, I might as well have been at the Cherry Hill Loews. It chilled out after that except for one or two comments (clever for the most part) and of course about a dozen screams and jumps during the scary parts.

I was surprised at how clever this was, and rumor has it the original was as well. I will have to Netflix it to find out, but that’s a good thing as it’s not necessarily a movie I would. I’m rather ambivalent about slasher movies – which to my misinformation this isn’t even though I thought it was. Some are good and some are bad, I’m not a lover or a hater, they’re just not usually my thing. Vampire flicks on the other hand, even after the recent deluge of vampire media in the last decade or so, are a guilty pleasure, but again, some can really stink as well.

This new Fright Night stands up well on the good side. There’s a lot of sarcasm, injokes and nudge-nudge-wink-wink going on here but it’s a lot of fun. Anton Yelchin, Checkov from the new Star Trek, is a young man whose neighborhood is quickly vanishing one by one and all the evidence points to his new neighbor, Colin Farrell doing a Bullseye imitation sans accent, being a vampire and doing the dirty work. He turns to a Criss Angel type entertainer famed for his vampire slayer magic act, the tenth Doctor, David Tennant, for help. Toni Collette is always a joy to see on the screen, and the cameos by Chris Sarandon (from the original film) and Lisa Loeb were fun.

At first appearing to be quite a jerk, Tennant is the highlight of the film, along with Farrell’s subtle but decisively evil vampire. There are shocks and blood galore, but not much real gore, more humor than gore really. There are a few very frightening scares, but if you’re paying attention you should be able to see them coming. The new Fright Night is a fairly entertaining horror movie, worth checking out.

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Doctor Who: The Pandorica Opens

I can’t believe it’s almost over. Here we are at the final story of the fifth season (series for you Brits) of “Doctor Who.” As the title “The Pandorica Opens” implies, we’re going to get some answers finally, and man, are they something! Beware, there be spoilers ahead…

The Steven Moffet scripted episode opens with various characters from throughout the series – Vincent van Gogh, Winston Churchill, Prof. Riversong and Queen Liz all working to get a message routed through time via a painting and the TARDIS. The painting, by van Gogh is called “The Pandorica Opens” and depicts the TARDIS exploding.

Somehow we end up back two thousands years in the past with the Roman legions of Julius Caesar, with Riversong as Cleopatra. Don’t worry, it comes together. The Doctor, Amy and Riversong track the Pandorica to Stonehenge, and I half-expected an appearance of the Ogri from “The Stones of Blood,” one of my favorite old school stories. No luck, but there is a very cool Raiders going on when they discover the Pandorica, which appears to be some sort of prison cell.

This is when things get very bad. The Pandorica is sending out a signal, and apparently calling various alien races to Earth, and not good ones – all ones with a hatred for the Doctor. First the Daleks, then the Cybermen, and as if that’s not enough, it seems they are all converging on Earth – the Sontarans, the Judoon, the Silurians, the Sycorax, the Slitheen, the Atraxi, and the Autons among others.

Yeah, it’s the final battle with all the baddies with fanboy giddiness. You can almost feel Steven Moffet grinning as he wrote this.

Just as I was starting to like Karen Gillan as Amy unhindered by Rory, the old boy makes a reappearance, believe it or not as one of the Romans. And she still doesn’t remember him. And just when you might think it just can’t can’t get any worse … it does. Rory is an Auton.

Meanwhile Matt Smith’s arrogant promise-breaking Doctor has problems of his own with almost every one of his worst enemies in the skies. He momentarily holds off the warring alien races with smack talk, which would have been much cooler had it not been the same smack talk and the same trick he pulled at the end of “The Eleventh Hour.” It definitely seems like arrogance is going to bite Matt in the ass just like it did David Tennant last season.

And then the Pandorica opens. Wow. Once all of the elements of this season come together, it makes sense, and man, is it nasty…

So until next time… “Hello sweetie” … or should that be “Goodbye sweetie?”

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Doctor Who: The Lodger

“The Lodger” begins with the Doctor kicked from the TARDIS, a machine that has proven in the past to be as temperamental as an agitated lover. I have to wonder at this point in the series, with only two episodes to go, if perhaps the TARDIS is being controlled by outside forces.

Next we tumble into what seems to be a completely unrelated sedate drama about a platonic couple – the man of which cannot verbalize his feelings for the woman – and a troublesome upstairs renter. It has a certain British sitcom vibe to it, but the situation could easily be “Everybody Hates Chris,” “Three’s Company,” Duplex or Alfred Hitchcock’s The Lodger. But this is “Doctor Who,” so you know there’s got to be more to it.

So the Doctor finds himself stranded with the TARDIS having ejected him and finds himself drawn into the above Britcom. Much like David Tennant did in the “Human Nature” two-parter, Matt Smith tries to blend in as both a human and a renter in the house, thinking that the upstairs tenant has something to do with what went wrong with the TARDIS. So the Doctor has some human misadventures, notably being wet, naked and in a towel (!) – has anyone else noticed how often he gets wet? And he also plays football (soccer for us Yanks). It’s a lot of fun until you take into account this aired the same day as the US/UK round of the World Cup – then it seems a bit forced.

While this is going on Amy is trying to get control of the TARDIS. She’s pushing and pulling controls left and right and taking the turbulent ride of her life while the blue Police Box is out of flux. In all the confusion I couldn’t help but wonder when she would stumble across Rory’s engagement ring.

And then things get bad. It all comes out all right though, for the moment. The universe is saved again, this time with a head butt and a kiss. There is of course still a question of where this second TARDIS came from. Only a Time Lord can build a TARDIS. Could it be the Rani? Or maybe the Doctor’s other personality the Dream Lord? No time to think about it, because then things get worse.

“The Lodger” was written by Gareth Roberts who has a long peripheral history with Doctor Who, having penned many novels in the New Adventures and Lost Adventures series of books as well as several of the audio dramas featuring the Doctor. He’s also written a few episodes of the series, some with Russell T. Davies and some alone. “The Lodger” also features a couple of previous Doctor cameos, and a bizarre and quite honestly hysterical new power for the Time Lord. Fun. Roberts turns in an interesting if oddball and madcap assignment here.

So until next time, remember… “Bowties are cool.”

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Doctor Who: The Hungry Earth

Like the Daleks, the Cybermen, the Master, the Sontarans, and maybe to a much subtler extent, the Ice Warriors, it’s now time for the Silurians to get their makeover in the 21st century version of “Doctor Who.” Also known as Homo Reptilia or the Eocenes, and cousin to the amphibian Sea Devils, these creatures were here on Earth long before mankind and went into hibernation, and have encountered the Doctor in the past.

This new incarnation of the Silurians is more humanoid, and they have had their previous monstrous visages written off as masks. Nice touch, that, even though the new masks are still very scary. The new make-up gives the actors more opportunity to emote. They are very Sleestakian in appearance (in a good way) with long whiplash tongues. As I’ve mentioned before, Steven Moffet wants to keep us behind the sofa.

On to “The Hungry Earth,” in this Chris Chibnall written episode, the year is 2020 and a drilling operation is going deeper than ever before, and people are disappearing. This is where the TARDIS lands, and almost immediately Rory splits off from the Doctor and Amy. He can handle himself, not always well, but he can. This is one of the things I like about Rory. He’s starting to remind me a bit of Harry Sullivan or Jamie McCrimmon.

The Doctor makes a frightening discovery – “While you’ve been drilling down, they’ve been drilling up.” When Amy disappears, yanked into the ground by whatever lurks below, the tension of the anti-relationship between Rory and the Doctor intensifies. The Doctor thinks he’s lost her, and it’s an anguishing moment for actor Matt Smith. He just keeps getting better and better.

This also begins to establish a pattern we’ve been seeing since the start of the Matt’s turn at the character – if the Doctor says you’ll be safe, if he says everything will be all right… you should run. Unlike David Tennant and Christopher Eccleston, Matt doesn’t seem to be able to keep his word. He fails a lot, so if he promises you something, run. Or to quote the Doctor himself, “Under the circumstances, I’d suggest… run!”

Obviously it’s the Silurians who are down under causing trouble, and planning to make war on the ‘apes’ above. And with Amy a prisoner down there, the good guys take a prisoner of their own – a Silurian woman with a thick Scottish accent, which tends to stretch the suspension of disbelief for me a bit. Meera Syal plays Nasreen Chaudry, a doctor at the drill site helping the Doctor. She’s a fun character, more fun than Amy in my opinion, who I wouldn’t mind see joining the TARDIS crew.

And for all those snobs who had problems with the early season five previews that showed the Matt Smith Doctor with a gun (which was not at all what it seemed to be, as shown at the end of “Time of the Angels”), the Doctor has a great line in this episode where he says, “No weapons. It’s not the way I do things.”

A sidenote, there was also some terrific incidental music by Murray Gold in this episode. I can’t wait until the next soundtrack comes out. The composer has been outdoing himself this season.

Until next time… “Hey, don’t dis the sonic!”

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Doctor Who: The Vampires of Venice

This week’s episode picks up right where the last ended. The Doctor is trying to set things right with companion Amy Pond and her-hours-away-from-her-vows fiancée. Although, is he trying to set things straight or is he just trying to get her off his back? Let’s face it, the Doctor’s been through this before, most recently with Martha, and he just wants to nip this in the bud as soon as possible. And in fetching fiancée Rory from his bachelor party, he makes his appearance in a very interesting manner. It has to be seen to be believed.

The Doctor sets them up on a date, in the perfect place – Venice, albeit sixteenth century Venice, but it’s still Venice. As always happens they get caught up in strange events that only the Doctor seems to attract – in this case, Senora Calvierri and her family of seeming vampires. At first I had to wonder if this was related to the Great Vampires, foes of the Time Lords who were encountered by the fourth Doctor in the episode “State of Decay.” Of course, as has been the theme of this fifth season, nothing is as it seems.

Vampires are perfect fodder actually for writer Toby Whithouse, who not only brought back Sarah Jane and K-9 a few seasons back, but also created the paranormal BBC series “Being Human.” However, old school fan that he is, his grasp of the newest season unfortunately feels a bit weak.

Matt Smith seems to be channeling David Tennant throughout the episode. It may be that this was written for Tennant or before Matt decided how he would play his Doctor. Amy is once again the companion of the week with little added to her character this time around. I think, so far, that only Steven Moffet can make her come alive.

Fiancee Rory on the other hand is intriguing. I love that he takes everything in stride, from the TARDIS being bigger on the inside to the whole time travel thing – he lets very little of the usual Doctor Who madness even phase him. What does bug him is the fact that everyone seems to think the Doctor is Amy’s fiancée and not him. Priceless. I actually like Rory a lot, especially when he calls out a monster by insulting its momma. Love it.

One thing is for sure, Moffet definitely wants us all hiding behind the sofa this season. We get a few more clues to the overarching plot for the whole season with the Pandorica, the Silence, and the crack in Amy’s bedroom. I have to say I was a bit disappointed in this episode’s climax as I thought it was too similar to that of “The Idiot’s Lantern,” but still it was fun. And don’t forget to keep an eye out for the Doctor’s library card!

Until next time, remember – stop talking, brain thinking, hush.

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Kid Who’s Debut

Last night the fifth new season of “Doctor Who” began on the BBC. As anyone who knows about the mysterious time traveler will tell you, The Doctor is a unique character as he can regenerate when he dies. This trick allows new actors to take on the role when the previous has grown tired of it. It also allows for sometimes a virtually new kind of character to emerge. Thus is the case of Matt Smith, the youngest actor to portray The Doctor, causing many in doubt to call him ‘Kid Who.’

Season five’s opening episode “The Eleventh Hour” opens with a bang. The newly generated Doctor is trying to climb back into the runaway and about to crash TARDIS over London and nearly misses getting his goodies snagged by the top of Big Ben. An opening that promises excitement is always good, and it’s quickly followed up by the new series intro and theme. As opposed to other previous versions of the theme, this one grabbed me right away.

Any urge that one might have to say Matt Smith is a bit young is almost immediately diffused by the introduction of companion Amy Pond as a little girl. Ha, got you, the first new companion is a bit too young. She catches up though, and the young Karen Gillan (who had previously appeared as the soothsayer in the Pompeii episode early in season four) is in my opinion a spunky and refreshing mix of Rose, Martha and Donna. I like her.

There is quite a bit of charming mischievousness and understated menace of David Tennant in Matt Smith’s Doctor. The rest takes a bit of getting used to but I really do like him. The climax of “The Eleventh Hour” definitely cements Smith as The Doctor in my opinion however, very strong presentation. My favorite line of this new incarnation – ”I’m the Doctor, I’m worse than everybody’s aunt.”

Stephen Moffet, who takes over the series from departing Russell T. Davies, delivers a very tasty script featuring not only the best of a new regeneration, the establishment of a new order, new subplots and frightening new aliens. Still not sure about the new TARDIS having the old set from “American Bandstand,” but I’m sure I’ll get used to it. I really did love this. I’m not going to pass judgment and say it’s better than the old, but it is quite terrific.

Who da man? Matt Smith da man, and he’s also The Doctor.

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The Waters of Mars

David Tennant’s run as The Doctor nears its end with “The Waters of Mars.” Sans a regular companion, the lone Doctor lands on Mars in 2059, and visits the first, and apparently doomed, Earth colony there. Slowly the colonists become infected and turn into water gushing monsters, with the story becoming a bunker drama.

The robot that keeps saying “Gadget gadget,” drives me nuts and makes me think of nothing but Inspector Gadget saying “Go go gadget,” takes me completely out of the story. Not good, but luckily it doesn’t last long. That aside, the drama is powerful, intense and horrific – not your usual Doctor Who fare. It’s also a very depressing and tragic episode, a note to remind us of the end coming for the current Doctor.

The best part however is the implied return of some of The Doctor’s oldest enemies. If Russell T. Davies has done anything with this series, it has been to resurrect more than a few of the golden oldies and give them a new spin. And remember, water always wins.

While British TV audiences were treated to “The Waters of Mars” a few weeks back, it airs here in the States on BBC America on December 19th. Be there.

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Waters of Mars

David Tennant is spiraling toward his final episodes as The Doctor. “Waters of Mars” airs on the BBC this coming Sunday, and sooner or later in the States…

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Planet of the Dead

Doctor Who returned to television this Easter in high definition, and he brought along little Zoe, the new (if brief) Bionic Woman.

“Doctor Who” is much more a big thing in 2009 because a) David Tennant will be leaving at the end of the year and b) it’s not a regular TV series but a quartet of specials this year – the final one featuring Tennant’s regeneration into Kid Who, Matt Smith. “Planet of the Dead” is the second of these 2009 specials.

Other than the scifi elements, “Planet of the Dead” at first bears a scary resemblance to that 1970s O.J. Simpson telemovie Detour to Terror. I’m sorry, a bus in the desert just puts me there, no choice. This special is another one of Russell T. Davies’ drawing-room-mystery episodes. As much as I love Davies for bringing The Doctor back, rejuvenating the franchise and bringing the whole package into the 21st century, I am annoyed by his penchant for having a certain type of story every year. We have seen this before in each of the last seasons, like the obligatory Dalek story and the scary one and the different point of view one. It gets old when it’s expected.

That said, “Planet of the Dead” is pretty cool and has a lot stuffed into it. Michelle Ryan plays Lady Christina, a Tomb Raider template thief who would make a great companion, and her chemistry with The Doctor rocks. A companion who leads him around is a great change of pace – however that may be needed once Kid Who shows up. We also get to see the return of UNIT as well as a few interesting new UNIT characters that we’ll hopefully get to see more of.

The end has surprises of its own, including possibilities for a Lady Christina spin-off and a prophecy for what is to come for the end of David Tennant’s run. Do I smell a return appearance for The Master coming up? Time will tell. Next up is “Waters of Mars” in September. Can’t wait.

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Planet of the Dead – Sneak Peek


Wasn’t this a TV movie from the 1970s starring O.J. Simpson? The bus in the desert makes me think of nothing else.

The Doctor Who Easter Special airs April 11th on the BBC.