Monday, June 12, 2017

The Doctor As Show Man and Space 1889 Cosplayer




The Doctor As Show Man and Space 1889 Cosplayer
(Spoiler Alert!)

It's been a busy two weeks, so when I finally sat down to catch up with Doctor Who, I had two episodes to watch. The first episode, The Lie of the Land, is actually part three of the two previous episodes which I found to be mediocre as best. 

Was I expecting anything better for this storyline's finale? No, not really. The Lie of the Land didn't disappoint on that respect. It was mediocre in script and well-done in acting and execution. Bill is still a strong, sympathetic character willing to lay down her life to save others, Nardole is still a loyal aide-de-camp willing to go the extra mile to help out, and the Doctor is... Well, he's a show man of sorts, selling the evil monks' "new history" to the unsuspecting public through slick commercials. Why the evil monks ever go to the extent they do to take over the world is never satisfactorily explained, including the gigantic statues of their mummy-like visages. They should have taken a lesson from the Daleks and Cybermen. Good ol' fashioned firepower and metal suits work just fine to invade Earth in Doctor Who.
Missy is seen once again in The Lie, but her cameo doesn't seem particularly necessary to the plot, as the Doctor should be able to figure things out himself with his abilities and resources. She's incarcerated in a TARDIS-styled vault and seems content to be locked up. There's hints she's not as sociopathic/psychopathic as she once was, but she's still not portrayed as a positive middle-aged female image, but rather as a figure of ridicule/hate. Actress Michelle Gomez could do better and deserves a stronger role.
 
The Orwellian overtones of "He who owns the past owns the future" are good in The Lie, but the overall arc of the trilogy of episodes isn't quite pulled off.  A good script editor could have helped cobble these three disparate episodes together in a more coherent and effective manner and brought out the strengths in each. As is... nice try, but it's very sad how this trilogy falls flat. At least Bill has a decent hairstyle this time out, and I enjoyed the "Maoist China" style of bland/uni-colored clothing of the populace as well as the Doctor's "worn" jacket.

Empress of Mars is a stronger episode in that it doesn't try to be anything it isn't.  The Doctor meets his old foes, the Ice Warriors. They've been updated a bit without losing their lovable "monster of the week" look about them that they've sported since the Patrick Troughton era. My husband was pleased to see the Victorian-era military men on an expedition on Mars, very reminiscent of the characters one takes on in the role playing game Space 1889. (The military costuming was accurate historically according to hubby who is an expert on such things, too.)

Why there is oxygen underground on Mars is never explained, especially since the surface is dead and there's no obvious plant life left.  The frozen/hibernating Ice Warriors are very similar to the Patrick Troughton series Cybermen who were hibernating on Mondas in a pyramid-like set-up. 

Hmm... Pyramids and spacesuits seem to be returning images in this season, as the Doctor and Bill have been seen in spacesuits in Empress of Mars, Oxygen and in underwater diving suits in Thin Ice. The evil monks have a spacecraft (I assume that's what it is since it "flies") that's pyramid-shaped in Nemesis, The Pyramid at the End of the World,  and The Lie of the Land. Is there some kind of connection we're suppose to make with the reoccurring imagery? I have to say, Peter looks great in a form-hugging spacesuit. I hope the hoodie look has been put to rest for good.

With only a few more episodes to go in Peter Capaldi's last year as the Doctor, fingers crossed we get another Mark Gatiss-written story. What's your take on these last episodes? Please write your comments below. Thanks.
 Can't get enough of the man in the spacesuit, can you? :)

Coming Soon... My other persona's  Loving Who series from Devine Destinies Books!

Friday, May 19, 2017

Doctor Who--and Loving Who--Return!

Doctor Who--and Loving Who--Return!
It's been a while since I wrote about the Doctor, but this month I have something to write about concerning both the latest series premiere and the re-release of my original Doctor Who-inspired series, Loving Who. (This is a PG to PG-13 rated series, so I'm writing under my Cynthianna pen name.)

My wacky sci-fi romantic-comedies, beginning with the novel Loving Who, are no longer in print from their former publisher (due to a change in business model). The good news is they will be re-released with new cover art and new editing in all new editions from Devine Destinies Books. I'm excited because I really enjoyed revisiting my old friends Cici Connors and the alien John Smith from Loving Who, Leaving Who and Losing Who. I know a lot of new Whovians will enjoy their wild adventures in time, space and fandom, too. I can't wait to introduce them to these new Who-fans.

I don't have an exact release date yet for the first title, but I'll let you know when I do. In the meantime, I'd like to ask you favor... Would you be interested in reading and writing a short review of Loving Who and then posting your review to Amazon and Goodreads? I'd sincerely appreciate it, as the old reviews posted there will no longer be associated with the new release. So, if you're interested, please email me at cynthianna @ hotmail.com (no spaces) and let me know if you're able to help me out with a review. Thanks.

Now onto the quickie review of the opening episode, The Pilot. I must say Peter Capaldi is looking great and  seems very relaxed in the role of the Doctor. His hiding out at a university and teaching physics seems up the Doctor's alley, and it gave me a flashback to the partially filmed Douglas Adams' story, Shada, where the Doctor met an old friend who was hanging out as a professor at an English university. The TARDIS in the corner of his well-appointed office fits the decor perfectly.

The reasons why the Doctor has settled down for a spell to teach--and why the alien Nardole is still with him--aren't given, but I'm willing to give it a pass for now. The university professor situation is intriguing,  and the young woman he meets and encourages to study science is intriguing as well. "Bill" isn't your typical college co-ed, as she's not officially a student, and yet she's bright and eager to learn. (After seeing say some rather dumb lines in the trailers, I wasn't sure if I would like her, but she's much more intelligent than those short blurbs indicate. Whew!) About the only criticism I have of Bill after the first story is her horrible taste in clothing and unkempt hairstyle. Nothing she wears is flattering for her body type, in my opinion. I hope the costume and makeup department get to work on improving her look.

We learn in snippets that Bill (Pearl Mackie) is a foster child and never knew her mother. She's a sympathetic character and seems to have the ambition to make something of herself despite her poor circumstances. The Doctor and Nardole (Matt Lucas) seem to be protecting a "vault" in the basement of the building where the Doctor's office is located, but for what reason and from whom are still a mystery. The opening story isn't overly complicated, but it flows at a good pace and introduces Bill and the audience to the TARDIS and the idea that the Doctor is much more than meets the eye. This is always a good way to restart a series after it's been in hiatus for a while.

I'm looking forward to episode two, and hopeful Moffat doesn't derail the more positive and helpful Doctor to bring back his morose persona of the past seasons. Peter Capaldi announced this will be his last year to play the Doctor, and I'd rather he go out on a high note than a low one, wouldn't you? Fingers crossed!
P.S. My short story, If You Give a Time Traveler a Cookie, featuring Cici and John from Loving Who, will also be available from Devine Destinies. Keep it tuned here for details.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Review: Sherlock--This is The End?




Sherlock: This is The End?
(Caution: Spoilers)

I thought I'd write a quick review of Sherlock: The Final Problem since my Doctor Who reviews get quite a few reads. I have enjoyed this mystery series loosely based on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's stories over all, but this last (and it seems to be the very last) episode was quite a let down on many levels.

I realize that the leads, Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, are very busy actors and very much in demand these days, but it's not that fact which was a let down for me. It was the fact that, since this was probably the very last episode for the duo as Holmes and Watson, it should have been of higher quality to match their terrific performances over the years.

What to really say about The Final Problem? It was simply... a problem for me. It didn't come across as a mystery worthy of the great detective, but a gimmicky, cheap shot at trying to hook an audience with gratuitous violence and silliness. Previous episodes were based on the classic Sherlock Holmes short stories or novellas, and they seemed to work fine with their 21st century twists. This time, there was none of the charm of Conan Doyle's original characters coming through in the writing. 

Instead, we were presented with the portrait of an adult female with mental illness that was less than flattering. Somehow she is Sherlock's older sister that he never knew he had, which, of course, is not canon. Misogynistic portrayals of women characters is a problem area for producer/co-writer Steven Moffat.  It has been written about by yours truly (see my Doctor Who reviews from a year or so back) as well several other feminists. 

Why Mr. Moffat comes across as "tone deaf" when it comes to writing female characters is a mystery in itself, but it is a consistent problem he has in most of his scripts. He views women as objects to be used to further plots, but they have few, if any, positive characteristics. Psychopathic and sadistic Euros is the winner of  "The Universe's Worst Woman of All Times Award." She has absolutely no redeeming qualities whatsoever. (Correction: My husband reminded me Euros is an excellent violin player. She does have one redeeming quality.)

Other female characters aren't depicted much better in this script. Poor Molly, who has had a crush on Sherlock all these years, is shamed by Euros's trickery and made to feel bad about her love for Sherlock. He, in turn, is ashamed of his affection towards her. How "unromantic" and "un-gallant" is that?

Shooting and drowning unarmed and tied-up hostages is Euros's idea of fun. She's supposed to be related by blood to Sherlock, Mycroft and their seemingly very gentle parents? (I guess the violin playing ability demonstrates the shared genetics?)  If we had never met Sherlock's parents before in a Christmas story and seen them as "human," maybe we could have believed they spawned a she-demon in Euros. But we have seen their parents, and they came across as "normal." So, there's no real satisfactory explanation of how Euros's psychosis came about and why Sherlock and Mycroft are not also insane. 

Five year olds don't usually become "The Bad Seed" all on their own. It takes quite a lot to drive any person to those types of behaviors. Children who are physically, mentally and sexually abused over and over again can suffer a mental break down and act out violently. Are Moffat and Gatiss in their co-authored tale implying all three of the Holmes children had a horrific and abusive childhood?

Yes, it's a real let down of a story. To be fair, I'm looking at it as a professional writer and a person with a psychology degree and some knowledge of what abuse can do to the individual. But honestly, there was nothing particularly uplifting, redeeming or even accurate in any of the character portrayals as written. This lack of logic in the story wasn't enjoyable.

I really do enjoy Benedict Cumberbatch's Sherlock Holmes, Martin Freeman's Dr. Watson and Mark Gatiss's Mycroft Holmes. They are superb actors. I was  looking forward to a better send-off for all three characters. Let's hope they have the time and energy to make at least one more positive and hopeful Holmes-like mystery so I can forget this episode as easily as Sherlock can forget his young friend whom Euros chained to the bottom of a well. 

(However did a five year old girl  managed this physical task is beyond my comprehension. Perhaps Mr. and Mrs. Holmes helped her dispatch and chain up the little boy, and they truly are monsters? Ugh.)




 

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

A Very Vampire Christmas is here!




How do you cheer up your vampire lover around the holiday season? Melynda wonders if maybe a few new traditions of their own are in order to bring a smile to Val's bite. Mel's time-traveling cousin Shelby and her horny boyfriend Quentin add to the fun of the season with their own brand of wild and free activities. Mel and Shel find it's time to get on Santa's "naughty girl" list. Ho, ho, ho!

Available now for download at eXtasy Books:
 http://www.extasybooks.com/2016-holiday-countdown/a-very-vampire-christmas/

 Featuring Melynda and Val from my novel The Vampire Next Door and Shelby and Quentin from the Time Surfer series.

Monday, November 21, 2016

As we enter the holiday season...



As we enter the holiday season, let me be the first person to wish you all a very happy holiday season--whichever one(s) you celebrate. For Americans, most of us celebrate Thanksgiving in November and a holiday or two in December and New Year's Eve. So, please consider yourself "greeted" by yours truly. (If you like, you can return the holiday greetings in the comments below.)

I wanted to make this holiday greeting announcement fairly early on in the season so that what I'm about to say next wouldn't come as a shock to you: I've decided not to send any Christmas cards this year. Don't worry--I will give gifts to close relatives, and I will decorate my tree and house as usual. I'm not going to be a total "Scrooge." The reason why I'm not sending out holiday cards is to make a statement: Not everyone is going to experience a "Happy Holiday!" this year. I feel that the money I spend on postage and cards could be better put to use helping others have a happier, safer and more just 2017, so I plan on doing just that.


You might not be aware of what is happening at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation  with the Dakota Access Pipeline, but this would not be because I haven't shared this information frequently on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and on the weekly blog I edit, Our Revolution Continues and in several pieces I've written for Political Storm.  Since this is Celine's blog I won't go into details here (you can easily click on the links provided for those), but I wanted to share the reason behind the statement I've just given. 


How can I say the words, "Joyous tidings of the season to you," or "Peace on Earth, good will to all mankind," when horrendous injustices are being inflicted on our peaceful water protectors of the Missouri River? I just can't.

Instead of mailing out hollow words of joy to friends and family, I will use those funds to help out the people of Standing Rock and elsewhere who are in need. If you feel inclined to help others in need this season instead of mailing cards and letters to the names on your Christmas list, please feel encouraged to do so. I won't feel slighted in the least if I don't receive a card from you. In fact, I'll feel very happy and proud to call you my friend for putting the needs of those suffering injustices--such as the water protectors of Standing Rock who strive to protect our precious land, sky and water--ahead of my feelings.


I wish you all a happy holiday season, a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. May it be a better year than we hope, or at least may it be one in which we all re-discover our humanity and humility and truly live out the Golden Rule, "Love your neighbor as yourself." Think: One day you may need your neighbors' help. How can you rely on them in your darkest hour if they can't rely on you during this season of light?

--Cindy/Celine Chatillon 




Here's the first project I'm supporting for the water protectors at Standing Rock in lieu of sending Christmas cards this year. I've always wanted to build a straw bale home, so I'm glad to support Honor the Earth as they build a community hall for the Oceti Sakowin encampments. Check it out, and if you feel motivated, donate a little something toward their goal of $75K (they're about halfway there). They will be hosting a Thanksgiving dinner there in a few days. https://honorearth.nationbuilder.com/makagioti

P.S. On a lighter note, my original holiday short story A Very Vampire Christmas will come out December 13 from eXtasy Books. Check out the very cool cover artwork by Angela Waters: