The Weekly Checkup: Doctor Who/Torchwood News and Views – August 6, 2011
by Michael "Skitch" Maillaro on August 6, 2011

Due to a real bizarre glitch, the column that got posted earlier was FUBAR. This is the revised and corrected one. Sorry for any confusion.

Surprised that this week was so quiet news wise with the new season coming at us quick. I am really hoping that BBC does another early screening in New York City. At the “The Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon” airing at the great <a href=”http://www.thebellhouseny.com/”Bell Housein Brooklyn, I won second place in a character impersonation contest as a Dalek. My friends all say I got robbed. Personally, I was just happy to yell “EXTERMINATE!” at a large crowd of Doctor Who fans.

On with the news:

BBC Releases new trailer for Doctor Who – Season 6, Part 2

Creepy eye-patch chick is back, and she makes a hell of a narrator! River Song is rocking an eye-patch too. Clearly everyone was inspired by Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. Brits do love their Johnny Depp. Okay, everyone loves Johnny Depp.

The trailer is only 40 seconds long, and too many fast cuts to make out much of what is going on, but it looks like an exciting finish to the season. Pterodactyls, pyramids, more of the Doctor wearing a Stetson (Stetsons are cool). Only three weeks away!!!

Matt Smith and Karen Gillan on Craig Ferguson

Last week, The Doctor and Amy Pond both stopped by “The Late, Late Show with Craig Ferguson” while they were in California for San Diego Comic Con. You can tell the interviews were filmed a few days before they aired, and likely out of order, something they make fun of during the Matt Smith segment. By the way, if you have not watched Craig’s show, it really is worth checking out. Admittingly, the humor is not for everyone, but I think it absolutely brilliant. And Craig is a huge Doctor Who fan, so he deserves our support.

Matt talked about his love of rap, and Karen talked about her love of thrift shops. I hate to play fashion critic, but that outfit she was wearing was pretty unflattering. Just a warning, they didn’t talk much about Doctor Who; Craig has a very freeform way of doing his talk show. His interviews and monologues just go wherever he feels like.


Torchwood’s Uncertain Future

 Despite having good ratings, Starz’s seems very reluctant to confirm whether or not Torchwood will be coming back for a fifth series. Doctor Who News is reporting that Starz CEO Chris Albrecht has said “Torchwood is not one of the shows we went into thinking about a yearly return. It’s about Russell T Davies – he has a lot of things on his plate. If Torchwood is not at the top of his list, that will affect the future of Torchwood.”

Meanwhile, Davies has definitely hinted that he might be looking to get out of the science fiction business. Back in February, he told BBC Wales Today, “It’s interesting as to how long I can stay in the science fiction world. Personally I think I’m coming to the end of it now and I’ve saved the world and blown up the world too many times, and I hope I leave Torchwood in rude health, and then I’ll probably move onto something else then.

It’s time to write something just where people talk in kitchens, at least for me. But I hope we literally leave the franchise in a very strong position that other writers come in and take it over.”

There also has been some talk that RTD is working on developing a show for Showtime called Cucumber.Showtime aired Russel T. Davies’ earlier show “Queer As Folk.”

I’ve enjoyed Torchwood since the beginning, but I will admit that each season has gotten better and better. Bringing on great sci-fi writers like Jane Espenson has given Miracle Day a great edge. I do love RTD, but I do think Torchwood can have life even if he goes. I just hope Starz sees it the same way. Torchwood is different than anything else aired on Premium Cable, and I need my Captain Jack fix.


Torchwood: Miracle Day – Episode 4: “Escape to L.A.” Review

Summary The episode starts with us learning more about Esther and her family. She goes to see her sister, who we quickly discover was unhinged even before Miracle Day. The Miracle just made things worse. Fearing for the safety of her nieces, Esther decides to call Social Services on them. Meanwhile, she’s being watching by a man in a black car. He is ordered to follow her back to Torchwood.

Since last episode, Torchwood had decided to go to California to infiltrate a PhiCorp facility. They end up renting a dumpy apartment and plan their raid. While in California, Rex hears news of a group called “Dead is Dead”. This group, led by Mayor Ellis Hartley Monroe says that society needs to start treating the people who should be dead as if they actually were dead. Keeping them out of sight until the normal order is restored and they can die.

Oswald Danes finds that he is losing his spotlight to Monroe. Jilly reveals her disgust for Oswald, and hints that PhiCorp will cut him loose if he’s not useful to them. Meanwhile, the hospitals start created overflow centers to store their “undead” patients. In order to reclaim his spotlight, Oswald goes into an overflow center, and tells the patients that they deserve to be treated better. He explains that he knows what it’s like to be shunned by society, and quickly makes himself a folk hero, much to Monroe’s frustration.

Torchwood’s plan involves stealing servers from PhiCorp and replacing them with identical which look like they have been damaged in a fire. In order to get in, they need to get access from a security agent named Nickolas Frumpkin. Gwen and Jack pretend to be a couple, and “run” in to Nickolas and his family in a park. They trick him to provide a voice print, finger print, and retinal scan.

Soon after, the mysterious man who has been following Torchwood also goes after Frumpkin, but instead of using clever trickery and technology, he just cuts off Frumpkin’s hand and rips out his eye.

Jack and Gwen make their way into PhiCorp, and manage to pull of their plan, but they are ambushed by the mysterious man, who is revealed to be an assassin. The assassin seems to know that Jack is the last mortal left, and is fascinated by him.

Esther was supposed to be watching their back, but she was distracted trying to get an update on her sister, especially when she finds out that the kids have been removed from her custody.

The elevators have no power, so Rex rushes up 33 flights of stairs to rescue Gwen and Jack. By the time he gets there, he’s just about bleeding out. Gwen almost gets the hitman to reveal who he’s working for, but Rex shoots him several times, including in the throat, which makes that impossible.

Later on, Torchwood checks the drives they stole and find out that PhiCorp is behind the Overflow Camps. Gwen finds out that her own father has been transferred to one of them, putting him into PhiCorp’s hands.

The episode ends with Monroe being drugged by the assassin’s boss. She wakes up to find herself trapped in a car being crushed into a cube in the graveyard. She is told that “The Families Will Rise.”

Commentary: I really think it would have been better if they did not identify Monroe as a Tea Party member. I won’t pretend to be an expert on the Tea Party, but I don’t think they would be inclined to support the government creating “concentration camps” for sick people. This just seemed like a cheap political swipe at the Tea Party, and undermined the message they seemed to be going for.

That said, I did think the idea of “Dead is Dead” was some brilliant sci-fi story telling. Monroe’s final fate almost had a hint of “Tales From the Crypt,” with a antagonist suffering the very horrific fate they were looking to impose on other people. We definitely got to see that whoever is responsible for Miracle Day isn’t someone to be taken lightly.

I’ve seen a lot of people griping about how dumb Esther was in this episode, by getting followed and by being distracted during the break in. This has long been a gripe with me about fans. They act like in a crisis they would suddenly be Batman wrapped around John McClane. I heard the same comments when a character did something foolish in Heroes (usually Claire). I actually love when a character is imperfect and makes bad choices. Esther is a data analyst, it makes sense for her to make mistakes in the field. And I don’t know about you, but I would be pretty concerned about my family in this situation too, probably to the detriment of my own safety.

Family was a big theme in this one. Rex’s dad (who I didn’t recognize as Ernie Hudson!), Esther’s sister and her children, Gwen’s dad, all played vital parts of the story. I loved all this characterization, which was what made Children of Earth so great. Family had another meaning in this one, as we also found out the mysterious group that has been pulling the strings behind the scenes calls themselves “The Families”

I also liked seeing C. Thomas Howell as a frustrated assassin. He lives in a world where people can’t die, which makes him question the value of his work. I did think the tying Gwen up was a bit fetish-heavy, but all in all, I really liked how this sequence played out.

My favorite scene was Gwen showing off her American accent. Eve Myles had given us a taste at San Diego Comic Con, and it was even more entertaining in context.


Guess Who Showed Up In Futurama….Again!

Once again, the Fourth Doctor showed up in Futurama. This week’s episode, “Möbius Dick,” is all about Leela’s obsession with a 4th Dimensional Space Whale that she believes killed the original Planet Express crew. In the end, Leela finds all the people who had been stuck in the Space Whale over the years…including the Doctor. I could just be hearing things, but I am certain a character yelled “Doctor Who!” when he walked out of the whale. Yeah, I know, it should have been “The Doctor,” but I appreciate the effort either way.

That makes two episodes in a row where The Doctor showed up. They really need to get Tom Baker to do the voice!


Message from a special guest

We had some excitement this week when Superman stopped by the Weekly Checkup office. He asked that we pass a message on to the DC Editorial Staff. I tend not to argue with men in tights, so here goes:

Looks I’m not the only one annoyed that Batman Beyond is on hold until 2012. Thanks for fighting the good fight, Supes!


All right, that pretty much is everything for this week. Pretty quiet news week, but with the second part of Doctor Who Season 6 just a few weeks away, I expect that to change. If not, I’m sure we’ll find plenty of things to talk about anyway.

I had started working on a piece about The Doctor’s first companion, Susan Foreman, but time constraints meant that is going to have to wait until next week. See you then!



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Michael "Skitch" Maillaro

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