SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who, The End of Time Part I

Doctor Who: The End of Time Part I aired on the BBC on December 25 and the following day on December 26–a far wiser policy than having large differences in air dates between the two countries. Warning, this review contains major spoilers.

As this is the first of a two part episode designed to set up the regeneration in the final episode for both David Tennant and Russel T. Davies, it is difficult to judge all aspects of it. While it ends with a cliff hanger, it does stand up on its own with a major change in the mythology for the renewed series.

While every fan probably is aware that this is to set up  a regeneration story, the show suggests the danger of even more ominous outcomes ranging from the final death of The Doctor to the end of time itself. Some of these warnings occur as part of the story while others come from a narrator played by Timothy Dalton. Early in the episode we find that The Master had left behind a cult determined to save him. The last thing they needed was his DNA, taken from the lips of an imprisoned Mrs. Saxon. The revival doesn’t work out correctly, resulting in The Master being even more insane than previously, but with new powers.

Besides the return of The Master, the episode ties into previous Davies stories in additional ways. Donna Noble’s grandfather, Willfred Mott,  is the equivalent of The Doctor’s companion in this episode.  Adding further continuity, a major portion of the show centers around technology which was recovered with the destruction of Torchwood.

This leads to three key aspects of the cliff hanger. The alien device was intended to cure the ill–on a planet-wide level. The last time we saw The Master he tried to conquer the entire Earth. This time he goes even further. The Master alters the alien device to turn everyone on earth into a copy of himself.

Russel T. Davis has tried to present big endings in recent seasons, including The Master conquering Earth and the movement of the entire planet during recent seasons. This cliff hanger is rather silly, but did present amusing scenes at the end with everyone on the planet being The Master. Before judging the idea, it will be necessary to see what is done with it in the conclusion. While a product of The Master’s insanity, it is difficult to see how this really serves his ends. A planet full of equals is not the same as a planet of humans who serve him.

The second part of the cliff hanger is that Donna begins to remember her past with The Doctor. At the conclusion of the fourth season, Donna acquired the mind of a Timelord. This necessitated the wiping of all her memories of her time with The Doctor with warnings that her mind would burn itself out should she regain her memory.

It is easy to imagine solutions for each of these cliff hangers, however the third cliff hanger has the potential to change the series for the Steven Moffatt era. At the end, the narrator played by Timothy Dalton, is revealed to be a Time Lord. The Time Lords of Gallifrey have returned, in a scene reminiscent of the Imperial Senate in Star Wars III: The Revenge of the Sith.

It is fitting that the story of the time war and apparent end of the Time Lords takes place in Davies’ final episode as this was a change to the mythology which he brought with the return of the series. I have always questioned the end of the Time Lords, questioning the possibility of  destroying a race which can travel anywhere in both space and time. While dealing with time has been inconsistent throughout the series, it also doesn’t make sense that the paths will never cross between either the other Time Lords and The Doctor when both can appear at different points in time.

Although the stories are about a time traveler, Russell T. Davies primarily used the Tardis as a device to place The Doctor at different places in space and time while avoiding dealing with the concept of time travel within most stories. Previous interviews have revealed that Davies has been working with Steven Moffatt to leave the Doctor Who universe as he desires it when he takes over as show runner. In contrast to Davies, when Moffatt has written individual episodes time travel has been more important. This has included Blink which involved aspects of the story at different points in time. The Girl in the Fireplace took place over a large time span.  Silence in the Library and Forest of the Dead involved a character who knew The Doctor from a point in The Doctor’s future time line.

It is possible that Steven Moffatt wanted the Time Lords and Gallifrey to return for use in future episodes. I do hope this is not a one-episode event. It also remains to be seen how their return will affect The Doctor and the universe. It was never clear to what degree The Doctor voluntarily fled from Gallifrey or was exiled by the Time Lords. They have placed him on trial twice, and have even forced a regeneration. This scene from Part II gives a clue about the nature of the Time Lords:

The above scene is from early in the episode. Following is an actual trailer from the episode, which will air on New Year’s Day on the BBC and the following day on BBC America:

Update: The End of Time, Part II

Peter Hoekstra Continues To Play Politics With Failed Terrorist Attack

Yesterday I noted how my Congressman, Peter Hoekstra, extended his long track record of playing politics with terrorism by using this week’s attempt to blow up a plane in Detroit for political gain. Hoekstra, who is now a candidate for the Republican nomination for governor in Michigan, continued this again today on (of course) Fox:

Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.) said Sunday that it is fair to blame the Obama administration for the attempted bombing of a Northwest Airlines flight bound for Detroit on Christmas Day.

Hoekstra, the top Republican on the House Select Intelligence Committee said that the administration has not taken the threat of terrorist threats on the U.S. seriously.

Asked by Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace if it is fair to blame the Obama administration for the attacks, the Michigan Republican replied “”Yeah, I think it really is.”

Hoekstra said that increased domestic threats have made themselves more evidence this year, with this attack and the Fort Hood shootings, but said that the Obama administration is trying to “downplay” the threat.

“The Obama administration came in and said we’re not going to use the word terrorism anymore, we’re going to call it man made disasters, trying to, I think, downplay the threat from terrorism,” he said. “In reality, it’s getting much more complex.”

So it is Obama’s fault that a  terrorist entered the country on a visa granted under former president George Bush while I have never seen Hoekstra criticize Bush for the multiple errors in judgment which contributed to the success of the 9/11 attack. As I noted in the earlier post:

The Clinton administration left the Bush administration warnings about al Qaeda. The Bush administration not only ignored these warnings but lied about receiving them. Then there was that CIA briefing entitled “Bin Laden determined to strike in U.S.” just before the attack which George Bush ignored. As Al Gore discussed in The Assault on Reason, paying attention to this warning should have led to a review of the State Department/INS watch list which already contained the names of many of the 9/11 terrorists. Others could have also been identified before the attack as they were using the same addresses or frequent flier numbers. In 2006 Keith Olbermann also reviewed the many warnings which were ignored.

It is total fiction on Hoekstra’s part to claim either that the Obama administration is not taking terrorism seriously or that “The Obama administration came in and said we’re not going to use the word terrorism anymore.”  Barack Obama has spoken out several times about the need to respond to terrorism including his speech at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars back in 2007. Steve Benen recently noted that the Obama administration is not only taking action against terrorism, but has had significant successes. A report from ABC News last August quoted National Security Adviser, Gen. Jim Jones who cited other ways in which the Obama administration is having greater success against terrorism than the Bush administration.

Taking such liberties with the truth is hardly new for Hoekstra who has previously made discredited claims of finding WMD in Iraq. He has also tried to play politics with terrorism previously. After having written an op-ed condemning others for divulging military secrets, he himself was found to have divulged secrets on Twitter. He previously resorted to scare tactics which have been criticized by several former national security officials when there was talk of moving prisoners from Guantanamo Bay to a maximum security prison in Michigan.

Gay Marriage Killed the Dinosaurs

A Facebook group explains:

Top 17 Reasons Why Gay Marriage is Wrong

17. Gay marriage will change the foundation of society; we could never adapt to new social norms. Just like we haven’t adapted to cars, the service-sector economy, or longer life spans.

16. Gay culture is a new fad created by the liberal media to undermine long-standing traditions. We know this is true because gay sex did not exist in ancient Greece and Rome.

15. There are plenty of straight families looking to adopt, and every unwanted child already has a loving family. This is why foster care does not exist.

14. Conservatives know best how to create strong families. That is why it is not true that Texas and Mississippi have the highest teen birthrates, and Massachusetts, Vermont, and New Hampshire have the lowest. This is a myth spread by the liberal media.

13. Marriage is a religious institution, defined by churches. This is why atheists do not marry. Christians also never get a divorce.

12. Children can never succeed without a male and a female role model at home. That’s why our society has no single parents.

11. Gay marriage is not supported by religion. In a theocracy like ours, the values of one religion are imposed on the entire country. That’s why we have only one religion in America.

10. Obviously gay parents will raise gay children, since straight parents only raise straight children.

9. Straight marriages are valid because they produce children. Gay couples, infertile couples, and old people shouldn’t be allowed to marry because our orphanages aren’t full yet, and the world needs more children.

8. Gay marriage should be decided by the people and their elected representatives, not the courts. The framers checked the courts, which represent mainstream public opinion, with legislatures created to protect the rights of minorities from the tyranny of the majority. Interference by courts in this matter is inappropriate, just as it has been every time the courts have tried to hold back legislatures pushing for civil rights.

7. Straight marriage will be less meaningful if gay marriage were allowed; the sanctity of Britany Spears’ 55-hour just-for-fun marriage would be destroyed.

6. Civil unions, providing most of the same benefits as marriage with a different name are better, because “separate but equal” institutions are a good way to satisfy the demands of uppity minority groups.

5. Straight marriage has been around a long time and hasn’t changed at all; women are still property, blacks still can’t marry whites, and divorce is still illegal.

4. Legalizing gay marriage will open the door to all kinds of crazy behavior. People may even wish to marry their pets because a dog has legal standing and can sign a marriage contract.

3. Gay marriage will encourage people to be gay, in the same way that hanging around tall people will make you tall.

2. Being gay is not natural. Real Americans always reject unnatural things like eyeglasses, polyester, and air conditioning.


Obama Praised on Ethics Issues By Watch-Dog Groups

The first year of the Obama administration has been a combination of both large and small moves forward in different areas, with the gradualism often being frustrating to those on the left. The Hill reports that Obama has scored well by watch-dog groups on ethics issues:

President Barack Obama scores well among ethics watchdog groups in his first year in office, though they’d still like to see more from the president.

Obama has wielded the power of the White House to craft an executive order that limited lobbyist hires in his administration, push federal agencies to share more of their data with the public and begin releasing visitor records for the executive complex on 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

“After the last eight years, it is refreshing to see a president, through his rhetoric and action, who understands the way that the system works is a problem. That just a great place to start with,” said Meredith McGehee, policy director for the Campaign Legal Center.

It’s no surprise Obama has taken a serious view of the issue.

As an senator, Obama championed ethics and transparency. The issue led to the signature legislative accomplishments of his short Senate career — the 2007 ethics bill and a government-spending database he helped create with Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Oka.).

Watchdog groups that had clashed with the Bush administration have cheered many of  Obama’s moves.

But McGehee said Obama nees to spend more political capital next year on ethics issues, even though this could cause fights with Congress.

“It is like an appetizer. The main course is yet to come,” McGehee said…

The president has repeatedly targeted K Street, limiting contacts between lobbyists and administration officials on stimulus projects and issuing agency guidance banning lobbyists from serving on advisory boards. That has led to consternation among lobbyists who have pushed back against the measures.

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