SciFi Weekend: US Premiere of Doctor Who; Everyone Loves Hugo; FlashForward May Survive

The new season of Doctor Who premiered on BBC America last night, complete with visits to the United States by the new show runner Steven Moffat and stars Matt Smith and Karen Gillan. I previously discussed the season opener after it aired here, avoiding spoilers while waiting for the US airing. I’ll discuss the episode further, now including spoilers. (Significant spoilers will be limited to what has aired in the U.S. only but if you want to know absolutely nothing about future episodes you might turn around. Note that Amy Pond most certainly would not look away.)

The regeneration was both fun and showed the effects upon The Doctor when experiencing this. The BBC explains that regenerations were initially modeled on bad LSD trips during the original episodes in the 1960’s. This regeneration included a scene of Matt Smith hanging out of the Tardis as it flew low over London and a quite funny sequence in which The Doctor grabbed loads of food complaining of hunger and then spit them out in front of a young Amelia Pond. Young Amelia/Amy was played by a cousin of Karen Gillan.

While time travel is often used in Doctor Who episodes as a mechanism to get The Doctor into the story, it does not play a major role during most episodes. Steven Moffat tends to use time travel more than other writers for the series. In this episode the newly-regenerated Doctor had a bit of trouble with the Tardis settings and accidentally didn’t return to see Amy for years after meeting her as a child.

This manner in which The Doctor met Amy allowed for an immediate bond which otherwise might have taken many episodes to develop. Amy has spent her life obsessed with the time traveler she met as a child, with adults trying to tell her she imagined him. Once she met him as an adult she could not resist going off with him. She even accepted his promise to return her by the next morning in her time despite seeing that The Doctor could not be trusted with promises to return promptly. In the previews we learned that the reason she wants to return by morning is that it is her wedding day.

Amy is both a strong character as a companion and is a Moffat character who might have fit in well in his other series, Coupling. While it is doubtful the BBC will allow him to include sex in his stories to the degree he did on Coupling, he did devise quite an interesting back story for Amy. When The Doctor first met her as an adult she was wearing a police uniform (with an unusually short skirt) and hand cuffed him. The outfit was actually one she wears in her real profession as a kissogram girl. If this was Coupling I bet the character would do more than just kiss, and we’d be hearing far more about it.

Meeting Amy was interspersed with an alien threat which began when she was a child and concluded when The Doctor returned years later. An alien convict escaped from prison and got to earth due to a crack in time. Moffat showed the depth of his writing skills with moments of suspense along with humorous scenes, such as humans stopping to film the alien threat with their cellphones.

Since Doctor Who returned many of the seasons had season-long arcs in addition to the stand alone episodes. The crack in time might be playing such a role this year as it comes up again in the third episode, which I’ll discuss more after it airs in the United States. In the meantime, in the second episode watch for any hints as to Amy’s ultimate marital status, and Steven Moffat’s comment on contemporary politics (which I’ll discuss separately in an upcoming post).

This week’s episode of Lost was once again essentially a story about love. While Hugo visited Libby’s grave on the island, in the alternative reality he finally got his date with her. We learned a little about the island when Michael returned and explained to Hurley that the whisper sounds are the souls who couldn’t move on after death, because of something bad that they had done while on the island.

We also saw more examples of characters having some knowledge of the other reality by means other than near-death experiences. Desmond remained interested in having the other passengers see evidence of the other reality. When he literally ran into Locke he might have been seeking to give him a near-death experience but he also appeared angered by some knowledge of what the Man in Black did to Desmond while in Locke’s body. I bet Locke meets Jack and others when taken to the hospital, and I wonder what he will have to tell them.

The television version of FlashForward differs from Robert Sawyer’s novel in having the key event take place during the first year as opposed to years afterward. If the show had not gone on extended hiatus the episode of the show with the actual FlashForward might have coincided with the actual date. Instead the April 29th episode will show “the beginning” of the event, with the rest coming on the May 6th episode, entitled Course Correction.

Despite low ratings there is hope that FlashForward might be given a second season. The show has two advantages. The international ratings are far better than the American ratings, and the show is directly produced by ABC making it more economically feasible to continue a low-rated show. More surprises, such as how they handled the mole in the FBI, might even help them improve in the ratings.