SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who: The Hungry Earth, Cold Blood, and The Pandorica Opens

On BBC America Doctor Who completed a two part story, The Hungry Earth and Cold Blood, while the BBC began the season ending two part story with The Pandorica Opens. As usual this review will have major spoilers for the episodes which aired in the United States while saying far less about episodes which have only aired on the BBC.

The Hungry Earth and Cold Blood were excellent stories which also left room open for a sequel taking place one thousand years in the future as well as advancing the season’s arc. The Doctor might have an overly optimistic view of humanity in thinking that a legend of the Silurians returning to share the earth in a thousand years will lead to acquiesce as opposed to a preemptive strike (assuming it isn’t one of those periods in which humans are living in arcs off the planet). Some humans just might not accept any deals the Silurians report which were made with a red head in a short skirt negotiating on behalf of humans.

The shocker at the end is that Rory not only was killed but was taken by the crack in time. Anyone think that the dead Rory might have looked a little plastic? Rory’s body didn’t just fall into the crack but tentacles grabbed him and pulled his body in. As we haven’t seen others fall into the crack we do not know if the other people were taken in such a manner or if something was specifically seeking Rory due to his relationship to Amy and the Doctor. Another question raised is how the Doctor managed to stick his arm through the crack without being pulled in. This might become clearer in the season finale when we will hopefully have a better idea of the purpose of the crack.

The first part began with Amy seeing older versions of herself and Rory in the future waving to them from a distance. The reason for this scene became clear at the end. When Rory went through the crack he was erased from time, although it is not clear why Amy could remember the soldiers who fell through the crack in Flesh and Stone but could not remember her fiance. Hypothetically this could set up a dramatic scene should Rory somehow reappear.

The episode ended with Amy seeing an older version of just herself waving off in the distance, although for a moment she thought she had seen someone else. There is also a bit of debris with a portion of the Tardis, as if it had exploded at some point in time.

The Davies season finales were often over the top, and often the set up episode was far better than the conclusion. The Pandorica Opens is Steven Moffat’s first shot at ending a season. The first part was excellent–as big as the Davies finales while feeling more plausible.  I’ll avoid spoiling the details except to note that many characters who appeared in previous episodes return to tie up the season, and Amy gets to meet Italian men. I do have some questions and nit picks but I can also imagine ways in which they will be resolved in the finale.

Next week: The Big Bang on the BBC while BBC America viewers meet Vincent Van Gogh. My spoiler-free comments on Vincent and the Doctor were posted here.

Democrats Put Significant Resources Into Getting New Voters Out In 2010

The Democrats have two major problems going into the off-year elections: 1) they must defend many seats which have been historically Republican but picked up in the last two election cycles, and 2) they will not have Barack Obama on the ballot to bring in the new voters and young voters who traditionally do not vote in off year elections.

As I noted earlier this spring, the Democrats are attempting to turn out the new voters. Karen Tumulty reported on this in The Washington Post and characterized it as a gamble:

As political gambles go, it’s a big and risky one: $50 million to test the proposition that the Democratic Party’s outreach to new voters that helped make Barack Obama president can work in an election where his name is not on the ballot.

The standard rule of midterm elections is that only the most reliable voters show up at the polls, so both parties have traditionally focused on the unglamorous and conventional work that turns out their bases. But this year, the Democrats are doubling down on registering and motivating newer voters — especially the 15 million heavily minority and young, who made it to the polls for the first time in the last presidential election.

“It’s a great experiment to see whether we can bring out voters whose only previous vote was in 2008,” said Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

The party’s overall budget for reaching new voters is more than twice as big as the $17 million it spent during the tumultuous 2006 midterm, which returned control of both houses of Congress to the Democrats.

If this is a gamble, it is a gamble similar to Howard Dean’s fifty state strategy. The Democrats need these voters to turn out to avoid losing several seats in both Houses and it only makes sense to make the effort to try.

I think it is a safe bet to say that this will not be completely successful. There’s little doubt that young voters and new voters will not turn out as they did in 2008. However this is not a win or lose proposition. The Democrats can benefit if the effort is partially successful and brings out enough voters to tip the vote in their election in some Congressional districts. In addition, keeping such grass roots operations alive helps prepare for the 2012 elections–helping both Barack Obama and other Democratic candidates on the ballot.

Nancy Pelosi Gambles With Future Of The Democratic Party By Rejecting Medicare “Doc Fix”

Harry Reid might be the leader of a House of Congress from Nevada but it is Nancy Pelosi who has turned into quite a gamble–a gamble which if she loses will probably turn the Democratic Party back into a minority party. On Friday the Senate passed a six month Medicare “doc fix” but regrettably could not also pass jobs legislation. Now Nancy Pelosi is threatening that the House will not pass the Senate bill until they also pass jobs legislation.

If her gamble works and the Senate passes the original House bill as opposed to the more limited Senate bill then Nancy Pelosi will come off as a legislative genius. However this is a very high stakes gamble. If she fails then it will be the Democrats who will receive much of the blame for the failure of passage of the Medicare fix.

Failure to pass the Medicare fix will lead to serious limitations on medical care for the elderly and disabled individuals now on Medicare. In addition, Tricare pays based upon the Medicare fee schedule so this will also adversely affect U.S. military personnel and their families.

Conservatives already are beginning to realize that Nancy Pelosi might have handed them a tremendous gift. Ed Morrissey writes:

In other words, Pelosi has handed the Senate Republicans the key to a filibuster not just in the Senate but also in the House, all to demand a massive expansion of the deficit on two separate fronts.  The GOP couldn’t have possibly asked for a better political position even if they had begged Pelosi not to throw them into that briar patch.  And if the “doctor fix” fails to get out of the House, it won’t be Republicans who get the blame, since Pelosi can call a vote on that any time she desires.

Let’s hope that Republicans manage to keep this advantage for as long as it takes Pelosi to realize that she’s blown it.

Morrissey is incorrect on an earlier point claiming, “the passage of the ObamaCare legislation whose financials were specifically predicated on keeping the Medicare reimbursement cuts in place.” A permanent fix was originally planned to be part of health care reform but Republicans made this politically impossible by counting the paper costs of this fix as part of the health care legislation.

Regardless of countless acts by the Republicans to play politics here and block a permanent fix, Morrissey is correct that the Democrats will pay the price politically if Nancy Pelosi is the one to prevent passage of the fix which has now passed the Senate. Loss of the senior vote will be devastating to the Democrats.