Sunday, June 27, 2010


I never liked horror growing up.  I either found myself fueling my fear of the darkness or just found the film itself an insult to my intelligence as story attempts to basically serve me the equivalent of inhuman children stomping on ants for 2 hours.  Luckily as I got into my young adulthood the genre of psychological thrillers had started to take its place as modern horror.  Yes, granted, there are some totally still bent on having sexed up, beautiful teenagers hunted down by senseless masked maniacs, and they are still not fun to me.  But then there were series like Millennium which pit our hero against pure intellectual evil.  I am a true believer in the fine line between genius and insanity and am glad, though at times pop-occult, the series tries to make every villain formidably intelligent to the protagonist, Frank Black (Lance Henriksen).

Millennium was the other series that Chris Carter was running in parallel to his more famous series, the X-Files.  At the time, even though the X-Files can be quite shocking and creepy, Millennium was marketed as a horror equivalent to the X-Files.  The show was about a man named, Frank Black.  He was an ex-FBI investigator who had become quite successful at profiling and tracking the worst serial killers.  At the beginning of the series he becomes burnt out and ultimately frightened into continuing his line of work when a serial killer starts targeting his wife and child.  Frank moves back to his childhood home on the west coast in Seattle where he decides to join a group of consultants who monitor occult events and use their knowledge base to avert the signs of the impending millennial apocalypse.  Frank had been approached by the group not only because of his successful career but also his unique mystical gift to see things from the perspective of a psychotic killer from observing the scene of a crime or a victim's body.  These "psychotic" episodes are presented in the show as quick flashes of surreal footage but is quite effective at explaining what Frank Black's visions are like.

The show portrays Frank as a regular average older man who because of his late in life marriage to his wife, Katherine, feels he is blessed with his 5 year old daughter, Jordan, who he values above everything else in his life.  His wife Katherine, though not fully understanding of his work and his gifts tries to let Frank continue his work as a profiler though as the series progresses she is eventually forced to decide between protecting Jordan and herself from the darkness Frank draws to himself or standing by the man she loves.  Frank is often accompanied on his investigations by several characters who are either members of his local police precinct (where he work previously before working for the FBI) or are members of the mysterious Millennium Group itself.  His contact to the group throughout the series is Peter Watts who is well played by Terry O'Quinn (later to be famed by his riveting portrayal of John Locke on Lost).

The show spanned 3 seasons leading up to Y2K itself but sadly had to be properly ended in an X-Files episode.  As I was brushing up on Millennium facts, however, I fell upon an article that said somehting about a possible Millennium movie to be done with out Chris Carter at the helm.  Interested and hoping it will not be as fail as the latest X-Files flick I will have to settle till then on the complete 3 season series I have on DVD.

Doctor Who Season 5 (Season 31) ends with a "Bang".

I just watched the last Doctor Who episode of Season 5 (31 for those who know of the previous reincarnations of the Doctor before 2004) and was relieved that it was not totally screwed up even after the whole universe of Doctor Who had collapsed and never existed.  Despite how entertaining I found the last 2 episodes to be with relatively good performances from the season 5 cast I felt there were more questions left unanswered which hopefully will not turn into plot holes for the on coming seasons.


Season 5 had started with the fiery introduction of the 11th Doctor whose regeneration from David Tennant's 10th Doctor sends the Tardis spinning out of control and crashing into the life of his newest companion, 7-years-old Amelia Pond.  But before they head off together for a new season of adventures, the Doctor is forced to take the Tardis on a short trip to avert an impending explosion of his crippled time capsule.  The Doctor returns to Amelia 12 years later (in true Timelord fashion) where Amelia has grown into Amy Pond -  a young fiery spirited woman disturbed by her previously brief encounter with the Doctor in her childhood.  Up to this point not only has she been living with a vague, unconfirmed memory of the Doctor, but she has been inadvertently harboring a multidimensional shaped shifting escape convict from an alien world, labeled by its captors as "Prisoner 0".  Amy despite her confusion and disbelief, helps the Doctor avert another earthbound apocalypse perpetrated by the alien convicts warden's efforts to flush out their elusive quarry.  With the alien prisoner returned to its captors the Doctor leaves Amy once again for another short trip in his newly regenerated Tardis and returns to her on the eve of her wedding day 2 years later to whisk her away on the promise of more outlandish adventures.

The first episode sets the underlying story that is the core of season 5's finale.  "Prisoner 0" had escaped its prison through a crack in time and space that had opened into Amy's childhood bedroom.  Similar cracks are seen though out the season often appearing near the Tardis's landing sites.  In episode 9 the Doctor reaches into one of the cracks and pulls out a shattered piece of the Tardis's door indicating an impending future of the Tardis's destruction.  We also hear of an artifact known as the Pandoric first of which is mentioned by "Prisoner 0" in its haunting prophecy: "The Pandoric will open - silence will fall."

Episode 12, The Pandoric Opens, explains what leads to the Tardis's explosion in a whirlwind of events throughout time which brings the Doctor, Amy, and River Song to Roman occupied Britain.  Here an elaborate trap set by every race the Doctor has crossed puts the Doctor out of reach to prevent the Tardis from its destruction with River trapped inside.  Amy is killed (temporarily) by an Auton (a plastic android) retaining her dead boyfriend's (Rory's) memories (killed 2 episodes previously).

In Episode 13, The Big Bang, we see that the universe is not gone yet but is still in the process of fading out and with Earth as the epicenter of the Tardis's explosion (I guess the Tardis is big enough to blow the whole of reality with it) the earth moves on to young Amelia's time (about 2000 years later) as the last instance of reality and Amelia has grown up so far in a world with no stars (since the rest of time and space never existed).  Young Amelia is lead through a bunch of bizarre notes to a museum display of the Pandoric which had been dug up with odd statues of alien beings.  Upon touching the Pandoric itself the ancient box opens to reveal Amy revived from her supposed death in episode 12.

Confused yet?  In any case, I guess with the Timelords really destroyed in season 4.5 by the Doctor himself who's to argue with him about playing with the existence of time and space.  And so after the opening credits scene which I thought was the only tacky "improvement" brought by the new production staff of Doctor Who (Steve Moffat, if you are reading this, please bring back the Season 1-4 Time Vortex), we go back 2000 years before.  Rory (Amy's now Auton boyfriend) is lamenting her death at his plastic hands.  The Doctor appears to him from the relative future (donning a ridiculous fez) giving him instructions to point the sonic screw driver (which he hands to him) at the Pandoric to release his current self.  The Doctor somehow has taken possession of a Vortex Manipulator that River Song used to track the Doctor down in Ancient Britain (I still can't figure out when she let go of it in the fist place in episode 12).  The future Doctor pops back into the relative future leaving Rory to rescue him from the Pandoric.

Rory opens the Pandoric to find the Doctor unaware of the events that lead Rory to release him and figures that it was just part of the brilliant plan he will come up with later to save the universe.  He finds the Vortex Manipulator on the floor near the Pandoric (once again no idea how it gets there but I vaguely remember him maybe pulling it off River in episode 12 for no apparent reason) and figures the only way to save Amy is to put her in the Pandoric and bring her dead self to meet her self in the future so that the Pandoric might heal her fatal wounds from the living genetic imprint of herself 2000 years from now.  The Doctor and Rory place her inside to meet her 2000 years later via the Vortex Manipulator but Rory decides that it's unsafe for Amy to be left alone for 2000 years.  Now that he is himself in a plastic body he remains with the Pandoric as Amy's guardian for 2000 years.

The Doctor jets to the future via the Vortex Manipulator to meet with Amy as Amelia who had just touched the Pandoric sets into motion the revival sequence to save Amy.  And just when you think things are bordering on ridiculous we get a bizarre plot device explanation of what the Pandoric is.  It turns out that it is the ultimate vault with technology powerful enough to keep someone (or something) in stasis till the end of time.  It apparently as well can preserve the memory of a universe in a state of collapse from being erased from existence.  So after the Doctor reunites with a revived Amy, Amelia, Rory (who managed to survive 2000 years) and River (who had been trapped in a time loop as a last ditch effort of the Tardis to save River until the Doctor could retrieve her via Vortex Manipulator) and a Dalek (who manages to use the light of the Pandoric to restore itself from being erased from history) the Doctor figures the only way to fix things would be to send the Pandoric into the sun which so happens to be in this alternate reality the slowly exploding Tardis.  But of course to do so with out some risk would just be too easy for a Doctor Who episode.  Since he would be the one piloting the Pandoric (strapped to the Vortex Manipulator)  he would risk being erased from time itself so that time and space would get a "reboot" of its older self (and hopefully revert back).

The Doctor takes the heroic leap and finds himself afterwards rewinding back on his time line unseen almost by everyone but Amy.  The Doctor tries to get Amy to remember him as a last ditch effort to save him from being erased several times and finally manages to relay the 7 year old Amelia Pond the story of how he had started his life's journey by stealing the Tardis.  But because Amelia is heavily asleep the Doctor realizes this is all he can do before walking from existence.

Fast forward to Amy's wedding to Rory.  And, of course, since the cracks through time never happened Amy's missing parents (she had been mysteriously orphaned and living with her aunt in episode 1) were back in her life.  Rory was also saved from being shot by a lizard person and suck out of existence by time/space crack so he was as well reverted from being made into plastic android.  All is well except for the fact that the Doctor had been erased from time itself.  Then miraculously River Song appears (uh with out Vortex Manipulator?) and gives Amy the empty journal which would have been filled with the adventures she would have with the Doctor had he existed (how is this all possible?).  The journal triggers her memory of the Doctor which was strong enough to bring him and the Tardis back into existence.

So all is well again but of course (to keep you ready for the next season) there are way more questions unanswered as the whole of what seems to be a successful season gets tossed into a overly priced DVD collection that I will regrettably have to own in the next few weeks.  First of all the one big question which the Doctor has unanswered himself what or who had this all happened in the first place.  Something had purposely blew the Tardis up for a reason and the Doctor intends to find out who.  The whole question of who River Song is is still unanswered (even to the Doctor) but she hints that will be regrettably answered soon in his own personal timeline.  Then there's the other loose ends like the "new" series of Daleks he had inadvertently revived in episode 3 and made a brief show in the finale where apparently River Song had mercilessly dispatched the last of them.  If the cracks in time never happened and everything has apparently re-winded to the beginning of the season then hypothetically the events leading to their revival never happened?

On a side note I do like that we get another season with the same cast.  The 13 episodes just seem to be too short for any real character development with season 1 (27) with Christopher Eccelston being almost an exception.  I like Matt Smith and Karen Gillian.  But I really like Arthur Darvill (Rory) and am glad they took a different route on his character development in comparison to the other "sort of" boyfriend in the Doctor Who universe, Mickey Smith.  I really like that Rory is a stand-up guy and is somewhat successful at the end of this series at not only getting the girl but earning the respect of the Doctor and hopefully becoming part of the next season's Tardis crew.  In the Doctor's words on Rory, "The Boy who waited 2000 years - good on you."

You can catch the whole Doctor Who Season 5 on the Sci-Fi Network (or its local equivalent), on BBC-1, and sadly for the rest of us on most popular TV show torrent repositories.