Happy 50th, Doctor Who!

I just figured I’d give a brief shoutout to Doctor Who, for turning 50 years old today! What started out as a show with theatrical actors and a budget enough to buy a Big Mac has turned into a cultural phenomenon. Why?

Well, the possibilities are seemingly endless. The Doctor can go from the end of the universe to the beginning in 5 seconds flat… that is, if he had more control of the TARDIS. The relationships between the characters are wonderful, the comedy (when present) is sublime, the drama is excellent… what more can you say?

Now, I’d figure I’d give some of my own personal opinions on my favorites and least favorites of this wonderful franchise.

  • Least Favorite Serial/Story (Classic Era): Time and the Rani. What a way for the much-underrated 6th Doctor to go… a minor injury. That, a story that made no sense, and no sense of pacing (even by classic standards) were just axes in the back for an already flailing show, which was placed in a coma mere years later.
    • Runners Up: The Twin Dilemma, Timelash
  • Favorite Serial (Classic Era): Earthshock. Adric was not a well liked companion… and his death made the fandom weep. Add in a brilliant story, wonderful execution, and brilliant direction… a pure classic for the classics!
    • Runners Up: Logopolis, The Caves of Androzani.
  • Least Favorite Story (Nu-Who Era): Fear Her. This story soured my opinion on the 10th Doctor for quite a long time. The story was boring, the plot was cliche, the resolution was pants, the writing was worse, the characterisation was pathetic… it might be the worst Doctor Who story ever.
    • Runners Up: Love and Monsters, Let’s Kill Hitler (Good plotline ruined by terrible writing for River).
  • Favorite Story (Nu-Who): Army of Ghosts/Doomsday. I personally was never a huge fan of Rose, mainly due to the mediocre writing… and again, much like the Classics did with Adric, this serial did with Rose; it made me weep a bit. What more can you say… Daleks and Cybermen! The story was awesome and the writing was sublime… it’s just proof the Nu-Who could (and has) held up to the classics.
    • Runners Up: Blink, The Name of the Doctor, An Eleventh Hour
  • Least Favorite Companion: Melanie. (No, not Melody. Don’t flame me.). Melanie’s actress, Bonnie Langford, was hired simply because she could scream… a throwback to the cliche of the screaming companion. She was poorly developed, the episodes that contained her tended to be the worst… nobody was sorry when she was replaced with one of my favourite companions of all time.
    • Runners Up: Adric, Peri.
  • Favorite Companion: It’s a smegging tie.
    • Ace. If Doctor Who was going out, it was going out with a bang… nitro-9, to be exact. Ace was the pyromaniac teenager, who’s wacky catchphrases (“Ace”? Really?) and her costume being an 80s time machine were more than offset by being the first companion to take down a Dalek. With a baseball bat. Yet, she was also deeper than she first appeared, and the final season of the classics shows her character mature. Thus resulting in Survival, which is the best way to end the show.
    • Sarah Jane. One of the most loveable companions of all time, and one of the best written of all time. It says something about her when she can not only begin her time in the 70s, come back in the 80s, return for a one-off special in the 90s, and get her own show in the 2000s, ended only by Lis Sladen’s depressing death from Cancer.
    • Runners Up: Martha Jones, Donna Noble, Amy Pond, The Brigadier.
  • Least Favorite Villain: The Absorphomorph from Love and Monsters. I can’t be too harsh on this villain, as the character was created by a grade school student. Still, the execution was pretty awful.
  • Favorite Villain: Daleks. That is all. EXTERMINATE!
  • Most Overrated Doctor: The 10th Doctor. Keep in mind; I love all of the Doctors. Still, the 10th Doctor is hailed as some sort of a demigod by the fanbase. Now, I’m not saying he is bad at all; he is the quintessential geek and everyman, who just happens to be an alien. Still, a general trend in series 3 was just him whining about Rose. Understandable, but he took it to extremes.
  • Most Underrated Doctor: The 7th Doctor. While he gets some of the blame for the show’s demise in the 80s, he is really overlooked. His later stories were some of the best in the show’s history, and he was the chessmaster, manipulating anything for the good of the universe. Trekkies, think Ben Sisko… but British. And less bald. He defined the “Jerk With a Heart of Gold” archetype for British dramas and science fiction.
  • Least Favorite Doctor: Sorry, but I have to give this to the 6th Doctor. Again, I like the idea of a cruel doctor who slowly reveals himself to be one of the kindest people alive. He DID get better scripts and a kinder characterization in the Audiodramas. Still, in the show, he always seemed to be an egoist, tended to use violence more than other Doctors, and do we have to mention his first story, The Twin Dilemma? Again, he got better later in his run, but it was too little, too late.

And now, for the moment all of you have been waiting for. The main event. The grand reveal. The moment to define all moments. The best moment in the history of this blog. The moment that will color me for

  • Favorite Doctor: The 4th Doctor. Yes, Tom Baker himself. God, I struggled to decide who was my favorite: the goofy 2nd, the childish yet mature 11th, the dark 9th, the chessmaster 7th, the sweet 5th. Ultimately, though, who else deserved this award but the quintessential Doctor himself. Tom Baker took the role in 1974, and didn’t leave until 1980. He combined that childish yet also wonderful sense of, well, wonder. He never used violence, he tried to pacify his opponents with Jelly Babies, he was brilliant, he dressed fantastically.. at this point, it would be too much to list just how perfect the writing for him was. The best part about him was, for as alien as he was, he was also very human. It never got grating (as much as like 11, he can be a bit grating.) The 4th Doctor is and (barring a meteoritic change) always will be the best Doctor.

Please don’t flame me about my choices.


New Scoring System for the Simpsons

…And so, with Treehouse of Horror VIII, we have entered the Scully Era.

While this era was loathed for many a reason, there are two focal points that caused the most ire. Those two will now be indicated in their own “meters”, so to speak.

The first is the zaniness factor.

Yes, I know that this is not from the Scully Era. This is a parody of Twin Peaks… which managed to be less insane than Scully-Era Simpsons. Yes. I said that.

Starting in season 9, episodes would often take over the top twists, play it up for as much drama as possible, and make few aversions or twists to the ensuing clichés. Sometimes, they might joke around with how zany the episodes are, but in the end, episodes would go from, among other things:

  • Homer joins the navy and launches a second cold war.
  • Homer and Snake have a high-speed car chase.
  • Homer and Marge have to run around town after being caught in scandal.
  • Homer’s idiocy causes the town to overflow with garbage, causing them to move.
  • Homer moves to his old farm and grows “tomacco”.
  • A biker fights Homer in a sword-style fight… with bikes.
  • Homer gets into a car chase with Kim Basinger and Alec Baldwin.
  • Homer winds up in the middle of a movie controversy including Mel Gibson.
  • Homer (notice a theme here) and Bart have to run away from murderous Jockey Elves.
    • I am not making this last point up.

Therefore, the episodes will be scored in wackiness in the following factor.

  1. Your run of the mill Simpsons Episode, grounded in reality, maybe a hint of silliness.
  2. More silly than the run-of the mill episode, but would not seem too out of place in an earlier era.
  3. Quite silly and zany, with slapstick the act of the hour. A bit far from reality.
  4. Over the top and beyond any normal sense of reality.
  5. I’m sorry, I must’ve thrown on Twin Peaks, or Ren and Stimpy– oh, wait, this is the Simpsons?

The second point that fans complain about is Jerkass Homer.

This was a throwaway gag from season 4.

Homer, in this new incarnation, often got into the aforementioned zany situations, most of whom involved him getting a second job. That’s not too bad, right?

Well, Homer was also transformed into somebody who was overtly self-confident in his own antics. Again, not too bad, right. Well, in this era, Homer…

  • Refuses to get rid of his gun, to Marge’s chagrin.
  • Sells out Kim Bassinger and Alec Baldwin
  • Leaves his father to die from kidney failure twice
  • Sells out the trucking industry
  • Beats up the Japanese Emperor
  • Gets Ned in trouble in Vegas
  • Gives his daughter ulcers
  • Callously uses techniques he learned in bodyguard school on his family
  • Trashes Mr. Burns’s Mansion
  • Deflects criticism about his role in Maude’s death
  • Attempts to blow up town hall and kill many a citizen over area codes.
    • Again, not kidding about that one. To many, that scene symbolizes how far the character fell.
  • Don’t get me started on “Kill the Alligator and Run”.
That’s just the short list. Let’s make a list of all the times Homer learned a lesson or got punished at an appropriate level for his actions.
  • He got deposed as sanitation commissioner….
And that’s about it. Might I also add that Homer wound up meeting every celebrity on the face of the planet, just so they could praise each other (Homer as the “common man” with “common ideas”, and the celebrities for the good they did.)
This new Homer was a borderline indestructible demigod, a Mary Sue for Mike Scully’s insane fantasies. (Dude, you’re living in Hollywood). And yes. I just said that Homer was a Mary Sue. Writers, if you are reading this, Homer is on the same level as a fanfiction original character. Pat yourselves on the back!
He was like Wesley Crusher from Star Trek: The Next Generation… except Wesley was evolved into a somewhat likable character. Homer went the other way.
So, we must line up our scale.
  1. What you would see in the classic era. The everyman who just wanted food and TV. Just an average joe who did not care about celebrities.
  2. Some jerkass qualities, but nothing to make the character grating. Maybe got involved with a celebrity, but that’s it.
  3. The average for the Scully era. He’s quite insane, and goes on adventures with celebrities. This is the area where you start to tell him to cram it.
  4. Very much Jerkass-y. He’s cruel, abusive, would be placed in an asylum in the real world, and gets praised to the dickens by celebrities.
  5. Congratulations, writers. You have made the Sixth Doctor sane in comparison. 
Get ready! Or be afraid. Whatever floats your boat.

Scullyfied Simpsons: Season 9, Episode 4: Treehouse of Horror VIII

Airdate: October 26, 1997

This might be the start to the most infamous era in Simpsons history (this is Mike Scully’s first episode at the helm), but this is not a bad episode at all. THOH was actually pretty good right up until the show made the shift to HD.

Like my review of “Bottomless Pit”, we will go segment by segment. Like always, SPOILERS!

First Segment:

After Mayor Quimby goes too far with his jokes about the French, the aforementioned French decide to do the logical thing… and nuke Springfield to a crisp. Homer survives because he was in a bomb shelter he was looking to buy to save himself. Homer is stunned by the fact that he is the last human being alive but begins partying like it’s the end of the world (pun intended). However, mutated Springfielders show up to try and create a utopian society without past mistakes… meaning that Homer is toast.

The first segment is probably my favorite segment of the episode. To an extent, it reminds me a bit of Red Dwarf (average joe schmoe is the last person of his kind). Homer’s celebration of his freedom reminds us of the human id; we act on the first opportunity. However, the scene where he cries over his family really show his heart of gold… something that would be quite a bit less visible over the coming years. And must we mention Comic Book Guy’s words as he realizes that he will be the center of the nuclear explosion?

(Almost deadpan) “Oh, i’ve wasted my life.”

Just… awesome.

Second Segment: Fly vs. Fly

Homer purchases a matter transporter to make getting to the fridge that much easier, amongst other things. Having been refused access to the transporter, Bart sneaks downstairs in the middle of the night to test it out, and realizes that if two living beings are granted access to the machine at the same time, their physical features swap. Bart tries it out with a fly, but winds up becoming a fly with Bart’s head, while the fly reappears with Bart’s body.

Probably my least favorite of the three, this still contains many a laugh due to it’s shoutout to The Fly and the amount of physical comedy. Plus, why else would somebody use a matter transporter? To do simple tasks, of course! Still, the family holds on to the idiot ball rather firmly, as they think that Bart’s head is just a fly, and that it is a phase. Also, Homer chasing Bart around the house with an axe? While it’s funny, it also shows the earliest signs that Mike Scully was taking Homer to strange new places.

Third Segment: Easy Bake Coven

It is the late 1690s. Sprynge-Fylde is undergoing a nasty witch hunt, with few spared. Goody Simpson becomes the victim of the next cull. She winds up facing the ultimate test of witchcraft;

“You sit on the broom and we shove you off the cliff. If you’re innocent, you will fall to an honourable Christian death. If you are, however, the bride of Satan, you will surely fly your boom to safety. At that point, you will report back here for torture and beheading.”

They push her off a cliff… and are proven right. Marge goes back to her cavern, alongside Patty and Selma. They decide to go out and capture some kids. In the process, they start Halloween.

Another great one, although HΩmega beats this out by a slim margin. It’s funnier if you read The Crucible. I had to read that in school; pretty good. Really, it’s if they took Springfield and threw it back 300 years, with almost perfect recreation. Bonus points go to the town hall meeting, which will leave almost everybody in stitches.

Overall, a pretty awesome THOH. There seems to be very little concern about the future of the show, right? Well…

Score: I’ve decided that THOH episodes will not receive a score, nor will be counted in seasonal wrap-ups. They would be at the top of the list of best episodes of the seasons, so I might as well just review them without a score.

Speaking of score, I will be adding extra indicators to Scully-Era Simpsons.