Saturday, May 27, 2017

The Fourth Doctor (1/2)

It’s been a while since I did a post on one of the Doctors, so here it finally is. Tom Baker’s Doctor is one of the most iconic Doctors, with the long scarf and his long tenure. Even with all the Doctors that have come since, there are no Doctors that have lasted longer. Because of how long he was around, I’m splitting this post into two parts to make it a little easier.

The Doctor struggled with the morality
of stopping the creation of the Daleks
in "Genesis of the Daleks".
Season 12
Top Story: Genesis of the Daleks
Ever since the introduction of the Daleks in the first season of the First Doctor, they have been a consistent and complex enemy (as simple as their design is). In this story we finally get their origin story. In addition, it’s also the first time we get a look at their creator Davros, who starts recurring almost as much as the Daleks themselves. It also left us with the great paradox of the Doctor, trying to do the right thing for the universe while admitting that he doesn’t know how “doing the right thing” will ripple through time.
Flop Story: The Sontaran Experiment
The story was shameless filler. As much as I enjoyed seeing the Sontarans again (Strax had made the Sontarans one of my favorite alien races in the show) this two-part story was a small interlude that was explicitly created to fill the gap, given the lack of six-episode stories.
Harry joined the Doctor and Sarah Jane
on the TARDIS in "Robot".
Honorable Mention: Robot
Because of how the Second Doctor regenerated into the Third Doctor, this is the first time we had a proper regeneration since “The Tenth Planet”/”The Power of the Daleks”. It was also a great interlude from the Third Doctor era into the Fourth Doctor era, as opposed to the soft reboot that the Third Doctor’s first story (“Spearhead From Space”) was. I honestly want to see more of these for regeneration stories, with the companion staying and continuity being solid, as opposed to a similar soft reboots like “The Eleventh Hour”.

Fake humans and fake city appeared in
"The Android Invasion".
Season 13
Top Story: The Android Invasion
An interesting story concept, with the Doctor and Sarah Jane returning to what they think is Earth and UNIT, but instead they are in an oversized diorama of Earth. It gave us the return of some recurring UNIT personnel, like Harry Sullivan and John Benton, who would not be seen again in Classic Doctor Who (I would still love to see Harry return in a modern story).
Flop Story: The Planet of Evil
Another story of the Doctor and his companion arriving somewhere, being suspected for disappearances or strange happenings. This formula, while effective, is repeated a bit much in Classic Doctor Who. The setting and the enemy may differ, but the stories tend to be similar: people die, the Doctor arrives, accuse the Doctor, but then the Doctor proves that he knows how to fix things. Effective, but repetitive.
Zygons didn't appear much, but it was
a great excuse to return to UNIT.
Honorable Mention: The Terror of the Zygons
A wonderful UNIT story, as The Doctor, Harry, and Sarah Jane return to Earth after their one continuous adventure in Season 12. While first introduced in this story, the alien Zygons are better known for their modern appearances, as they didn’t appear again until the 50th Anniversary Special. Great villains and I’m kind of glad they waited to use them again, because we have much better special effects for their transformations now.

The Doctor returns to the planet of
Xoanan in "The Face of Evil".
Season 14
Top Story: The Face of Evil
While never really saw the other side of this story, we get a timey-wimey adventure here, as the Doctor returns to somewhere he’s been before… or somewhere he will go. I forgot. Wibbly wobbly and such. The Doctor’s previously involvement on this planet ends up being the reason for the whole plot of the episode. I’d like to have seen the Doctor’s other adventure on this planet, but besides that it was a delightful story.
Flop Story: The Talons of Weng-Chiang
A decaying Master returns in "The
Deadly Assassin".
While this was a popular story and Jago and Litefoot got their own audio spin-off stories, I honestly just could not get into this story. Granted, it could be as simple a reason as that I was on a grave shift when I watched it and it wasn’t helping me stay awake. However, whatever the reason is, the fact remains that it dragged on and I couldn’t get into it. I’m just not a big fan of 6-part stories.
Honorable Mention: The Deadly Assassin
This was quite the unique story. No companion and just a mystery as to what was going on across Gallifrey. As well as being unique in his own right, it was also the return of the Master. While he was dying and decaying, this was a wonderful way for the writers to revive the character, despite the death of Roger Delgado. It also introduced the Matrix, the central hub of all Time Lord consciousness.

Not everything was as it seemed in
"The Invisible Enemy".
Season 15
Top Story: The Invisible Enemy
An interesting concept of having the Doctor enter his own mind to defeat an enemy. While it’s been a while since I watched this story, the intricacies of the story stick with me. Visiting a seemingly perfect place and discovering a problem is a common theme in Doctor Who, but this one felt unique to me. This one also introduced K9, a recurring companion through the Fourth Doctor’s tenure and later as a companion to Sarah Jane.
Flop Story: Underworld
Honestly, I don’t have much to say on this one. Like “The Invisible Enemy”, I watched this story a while ago and the reason it ended up as the flop story for this season is because I have such a hard time remembering what was even going on during it.
The Sontarans return in "The Invasion
of Time".
Honorable Mention: The Invasion of Time
A return to Gallifrey and surprise: the Sontarans are back. It was a Gallifreyan mystery that I wish we could have more of in Modern Who, especially with Gallifrey back now. It was also the departure of Leela and the first K9 and I was not sad to see Leela go, but we’ll talk more about her later.

Fourth Doctor Companions (Part 1):
Sarah Jane          (3rd Doctor) - The Hand of Fear
Harry                     Robot - Terror of the Zygons
Leela                     The Face of Evil - The Invasion of Time
K-9                         The Invisible Enemy – (4th Doctor, Part 2)

Innovative. Clever. Sassy. And Resilient.
Favorite Companion:
Sarah Jane was my favorite here. Easily that was influenced by first seeing her in the Tenth Doctor era and watching her spin-off show in the modern series. However, Sarah Jane was also simply a strong, complex character. She gained more depth in her spin-off, but it’s not hard to see why she was considered for a spin-off to begin with.

Everything with Leela seemed to come
back to her using her knife.
Least Favorite Companion:
Leela. Just Leela. I found her boring and one-dimensional. Everything with her seemed to be about her primitive warrior instincts. Sometimes it was used for comedic effect and I enjoyed it (like “The Talons of Weng-Chiang”). However, in general it didn’t work well. I probably have some issue with having companions from the past or other primitive civilizations. It seemed to work with Jamie in the Second Doctor era, but there’s something about having to explain basic stuff to her that takes away from the story.

More Fourth Doctor stuff to come. In the meantime, I’ve got some Pokemon stuff planned and of course the new Spider-Man coming out in July. Also probably a rant about Once Upon a Time coming at some point (It. Needs. To. End).

Though she never traveled with a version of K9, Sarah Jane was
gifted a K9 of her own (Mark III) which was later featured in
"The Five Doctors" and "The Sarah Jane Adventures".
More on that with Part 2 of the Fourth Doctor.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

He Likes to Be Asked

This past week I finished up reading "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Magician's Nephew".  So spoiler alert to anyone who hasn't read this (though it's been out for quite a few years now).

I mark up my Narnia books at times when I find a certain part particularly spiritually insightful. This time, the part I marked was during Diggory, Polly, and Fledge's quest to get the apple that would grow into a tree to protect Narnia from the Witch.

Polly, Diggory, and Fledge stop for the night and they realize they didn't have anything to eat for dinner. And this is the exchange that happened:

“Well I do think someone might have arranged about our meals,” said Diggory.
“I’m sure Aslan would have, if you’d asked him,” said Fledge.
“Wouldn’t he know without being asked?” said Polly.
“I’ve no doubt he would,” said the Horse (still with his mouth full). “But I’ve a sort of idea he likes to be asked.”

For those familiar with Narnia, you know that Aslan is representative of Christ (and at times of God). Knowing the wisdom and the character of Aslan, I'm sure Fledge was right and Aslan would have known to provide the trio with food. However, I think Fledge was also right in his second comment: Aslan likes to be asked. And I believe God is the same way.

The scriptures say, "Your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him." (Matthew 6:8) And in the Bible Dictionary under prayer it says "The object of prayer is not to change the will of God but to secure for ourselves and for others blessings that God is already willing to grant but that are made conditional on our asking for them."

Sometimes I think that's what I'm doing wrong. I'm not asking for what I need. And accordingly, maybe I'm being too vague. I'm beginning to believe more and more that the more specifically I ask for blessings the more specifically the Lord can bless me (I wonder if there's a quote on that).

I guess the preliminary part to that is to know specifically what I need. It's something I've been working on in my interpersonal relationships already. What do I need from a friend? When I'm upset and I talk to a friend, do I need to release frustration or do I need advice? If I need a listening ear and my friend starts spouting advice, I just get more frustrated. And sometimes it takes a lot of introspection for me to know what I really need.

The same thing applies with God. What do I need from Him? Maybe that's why prayer and meditation often go together. Meditation helps me know what I need and prayer enables me to ask. It takes practice, getting myself to understand and tune in with myself to know what I need. But I can see how it has helped me, so I keep working on it.

I know that as I focus on my prayers and my relationship with my Heavenly Father I tend to be happier; I have bad days but I feel more firm. The more connected I feel to my Heavenly Father, the less I am "carried about with every wind of doctrine" (Ephesians 4:14). When I have that connection, I feel safe and I feel loved, no matter what happens.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Spoiler-Free Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 Review

So it’s been about 3-ish years since we last saw our bumbling band of misfits save Xandar from Ronan. When we last left them, they were off to do some grey-area-type stuff out in the galaxy. We also had the reveal from Nova Prime that Peter Quill is not 100% human. As usual, I will avoid spoilers, but if you have a super sensitivity to anything remotely spoiler-ish, feel free to check out of here and see the movie. I will recommend watching the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie beforehand, just to refresh your mind about Star Lord and his friends. Without further ado, I’m jumping in.

I liked how the movie tied up some loose ends from the first movie. We had hints of Peter Quill’s father scattered throughout the first movie, including Yondu mentioning that he was hired to take Peter to his father, Nova Prime calling his father something ancient, and Peter’s mother calling his father an angel. Assuming you’ve watched the trailers, you know that Star Lord Sr. appears in this movie. I haven’t read the comics, so I didn’t know much about this character, but he turned out a lot more complex and interesting than I first had thought.

The theme and tone on relationships throughout the movie were wonderful too. As much as these former/current criminals are crazy and emotionally unstable, I found myself able to relate to them (side note: is that bad that I relate to interplanetary criminals?). While my struggles may not have to do with killing people or stealing things, the deeper stuff going on with their characters makes them wonderfully relatable. I really felt for them as they figured out how they worked together as a crazy, dysfunctional family of sorts.

And of course the movie had wonderful comedic timing. Just like movie #1, this movie couldn’t take itself too seriously; I mean, we have a talking racoon and an angry little tree as main characters. Speaking of an angry little tree, baby Groot was likely my favorite character in the movie (though I did realllllllly like the character development of Star Lord). Everything baby Groot did on screen was adorable and wonderful, even when he was supposed to be scary. Added wonderfully to the comedy.

Even at his angriest, he's adorable.

The character development in this movie was wonderful. These characters have had some of the least attention, since they haven’t had the opportunity to team up with our other Marvel heroes (yet), but even just from some verbal backstory we’ve been able to see them grow and become better characters, over the course of only two movies. In addition, despite having so many characters in this movie, it felt very balanced to me. Everyone seemed to get decent screen time, which I’m sure helped with the character development.

So now that you’ve read this, get off your computer/tablet/phone/whatever and go watch the movie. Or at the very least go watch the first Guardians of the Galaxy to prepare yourself for this movie.