SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who, The Power of Three; Merlin: Revolution

The Power of Three refers to both the power of the alien cubes and to the power of the three stars of Doctor Who. This week’s episode was primarily a last look at the Doctor’s relationship with Amy and Rory before their final episode next week. The slow invasion allowed the three to spend a lot of time together,  and we learned it has now been ten years since Amy first went off with the Doctor. Now Amy and Rory are starting to live normal lives, making commitments for the future which they would not have made in the past in case they were off somewhere with the Doctor.

The episode also provided a reunion with UNIT. It came as no surprise that the new head of UNIT,  Kate Stewart, played by Jemma Redgrave, turned out to be the daughter of Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart. Kate, apparently unaware that to most of the universe the Doctor has died, recognized him by his manner of dress and verified the presence of two hearts. Scientists are also now in control of UNIT.

Rory’s dad Brian asked the Doctor about the fate of his previous companions. The Doctor answered,  “Some left me. Some got left behind. And some… not many but… some died.” While this could be preparing the viewers for next week’s episode, this did not stop Brian from encouraging Rory and Amy to go off once again with the Doctor.

The invasion story provided an amusing backdrop as we saw the cubes become assimilated into day to day life over the course of the year. They were used for mundane tasks such as holding up menus in restaurants and had a thousand different Twitter accounts. Did the disparaging comment on Twitter reflect the views of either Matt Smith or Steven Moffat? The episode, like all the earlier episodes of the season, also included light bulbs–this time Christmas lights.

Unfortunately the ending was rushed and made little sense. The Doctor solved everything too easily with a wave of the Sonic Screwdriver. I can accept that the cubes were able to emit electric shocks to stop the hearts of those around them. After all, this is alien technology, and who are we to question what an apparently empty alien cube might be capable of? It is harder to accept that reversing the shock would restart the hearts of those around them as here we are dealing with human physiology. Once a heart has stopped and the person has died, a second shock would not reverse this. Even if this was possible, the the people should all be brain dead and not capable of just getting up again as if nothing had happened. (Or is this now a Zombie invasion to be dealt with in a future episode?)

Next week, The Angels Take Manhattan. The Space video promo is above. The BBC press release confirms what we already knew:

Doctor Who: The Angels Take Manhattan

The Doctor’s heart-breaking farewell to Amy and Rory – a race against time through the streets of Manhattan, as New York’s statues come to life around them…

With Rory’s life in danger, the Doctor and Amy must locate him before it’s too late! Luckily, an old friend helps them and guides the way.

Guest stars: Mike McShane, Alex Kingston and Rob David

Written by Steven Moffat

Executive produced by Steven Moffat and Caroline Skinner

Directed by Nick Hurran

Produced by Marcus Wilson

And above are two promos from the BBC.

A new promo for Merlin is above.

Despite the failure of multiple genre shows over the last couple of years, NBC is heavily hyping Revolution. If it succeeds I fear it will be because enough people like the gimmick of people fighting without modern weapons in a background which almost looks like our world. A sword fight in a Chicago hotel might be cool, but can this idea remain fresh for long? The special effects of a modern world destroyed without power were well done, but far too many genre shows try to succeed with special effects as opposed to a good story.

The science fiction aspects do remind me of FlashForward and Jericho. As on FlashForward, we have a change in the rules of physics with some unknown people responsible. Instead of jumping forward in time, on Revolution all devices dependent upon electricity suddenly stop working (but some people still have access to working electricity, appearing to have downloaded it to a fancy USB drive). Like on FlashForward, planes dropped from the sky and Elizabeth Mitchell has a role. I do question whether she is really dead, limited to appearing in flashbacks. When asked about this by Entertainment Weekly she responded, “I am not allowed to say one word. I’m not even allowed to tease.”

The show is also reminiscent of Jericho in showing people living after a tremendous disruption to normal life. It is more like the final episodes of Jericho, showing the battle for control of the country. The pilot might have felt more plausible if it was more like the early episodes of Jericho, showing how people survived and established a civilization. Perhaps we will see more of this in flashbacks on future episodes.

Like Lost there is a big mystery (along with Elizabeth Mitchell) , but according to J.J. Abrams the show will not feature long, drawn out mysteries as on Lost. The show’s writers do know why the power went out, and hopefully it doesn’t involve a man in black or turning the power back on with a donkey wheel. As it appears that this was intentional, there are two possible motives which I sure hope do not turn out to be the explanation. I hope it is not a case of environmental radicals turning out the power to reduce carbon emissions. Anyone capable of stopping all electricity in the world would probably be able to come up with a more sensible solution to global warming such as a clean energy source or a way to cool the planet. I also hope this is not a reaction to the situation seen at the start of the pilot, showing signs of too much technology invading our lives. If someone with advanced technology wanted to act upon this, it would make more sense to knock out television and cell phones, as opposed to all electricity which would cause massive deaths.

 

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