Thursday, May 18, 2017

The Doctor as Labor Leader

 
The Doctor as Labor Leader
(Attn: Spoiler Alert!)

We're just back from Marcon 52 and trying hard to catch up with things, so this week's review wasn't the first thing on my to-do list. I put off watching the latest Doctor Who episode for a few days (so I could make myself finish several projects first), and now I wish I hadn't. 

I find it amazing how my "day job" of being the editor of Our Revolution Continues dovetailed nicely into this week's episode, Oxygen. Both blogs are on the topics of worker/employer -- or more accurately slave/master-- relationships. To see what I mean, check out my piece at the O.R.C. blog, How to Build a Better Slave, er Worker. The fact that most human beings don't recognize how they're being manipulated and used by the oligarchy isn't a new concept, but seeing it portrayed in an effectively sinister way on Doctor Who really surprised me. Kudos to writer Jamie Mathieson, known for penning the better scripts in Peter Capaldi's first season, for once again writing a worthy episode for Peter's Doctor.

 Oxygen is quite a unique screenplay. The overt theme of the story is particularly intriguing, considering the accusations the BBC head  made thirty years ago against the producers of Doctor Who for  putting on a "leftist show." It got the show cancelled, so is this "leftist bent" made during the Theresa May leadership going to result in the same thing, or is the Beeb more interested in ratings rather than politics this time around? I think they're in it for the money, so a story theme about how human life is cheap and easily disposed of by those with the power and wealth is even more poignant.


But it wasn't all just politics--the "spacesuit zombies" were pretty creepy. You don't expect something that's supposed to protect you like a spacesuit to try and kill you. Nice touch linking the capitalists' greed to overtly killing their workers/slaves. At least the worker/slaves at the Chasm Forge understood they had a limited supply of oxygen, but they expected their masters to provide more. Too bad, so sad their corporate masters felt the workers weren't worth giving the "benefits of breathing."

There was definitely more "meat" to the plot this time out, and more Nardole as well. I've been wondering if Matt Lucas was going to get more lines, and this story featured him well. He's a loyal and conscientious companion, and he's trying to keep the Doctor on task--which we all know isn't an easy thing to do. How Nardole as a character will develop in subsequent episodes intrigues me and will keep me watching.


Bill in this episode plays the innocent in space, trusting that the Doctor and a spacesuit will protect her from the evil of the "zombies" and the faceless corporate oligarchs. The Doctor risking his own sight to save her--and then seemingly risking her life to save her again later--was quite dramatic. It's great to see Peter Capaldi playing a heroic Doctor who is willing to lay down his own life/health for the safety of his companion without hesitation. We've had enough of the "darkness" Steven Moffat tried to infuse into the first two seasons of Peter's tenure. 
 
Let the Doctor be a hero and his companions worthy aides in his fight to save humanity against the evils in the universe. Please, Doctor, come to Earth and be our labor leader! Save us from the blind greed of our corporate masters who take and take from the working poor to fill their bloated off-shore bank accounts!

What do you think of Peter Capaldi's Doctor and  the episodes so far? Leave your comments below.



P.S. It's sometimes uncanny how you can predict the future, even if you're not a Time Lord... While I was doing some edit work on my upcoming re-release of  Leaving Who, I realized I'd coin the term "The Mistress" many years before Steven Moffat had. Maybe I time traveled and didn't realize it?

Thursday, May 11, 2017

The Doctor as Helper/The Companion as Conscience





 
Sorry for the delay--it's been an awfully hectic month for yours truly--but I thought I'd write a quick review of the last two episodes of Doctor Who before we head out to Marcon in Columbus, Ohio, this weekend to chat with fellow Whovians in person.

This season is off to a solid start, much better than Peter Capaldi's previous seasons, in my opinion. We finally see the "classic Who" Doctor emerging, the one that most of us fell in love in (in his various incarnations), the one that we saw in the performances of Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant and even Matt Smith in the newer series. In both Thin Ice and Knock Knock we see the Doctor as helper. The Doctor isn't just casually breezing by the scene and becoming involved in spite of his reluctance; he's actually there to help human beings solve a mystery and make the world a bit safer. His intent is humanitarian, not selfish, which is the heroic trait many Whovians admire the most.



On the companion side, we have Bill. She's coming across as the Doctor's conscience in these stories--the human sidekick who tells him when he's crossed the line into selfishness or cruelty. In many respects, Bill reminds me of the Nu Who companion Donna Noble. Donna was never afraid to tell the Doctor when he had stepped over the line. She begged and pleaded with the Doctor when he seemed heartless, such as in the Fires of Pompei when she begged him to save the Roman family headed up by... well, by Peter Capaldi of all people!

I also see a bit of Leela from the Tom Baker era in the character of Bill. Leela was also brave and not afraid to tell the Doctor when he's crossing a line that shouldn't be crossed. In Thin Ice, Bill points out the "coldness" of the Doctor allowing some to die in front of her eyes without apparently trying to save them. In Knock Knock she begs him to save her friends and housemates from death by alien termite. The companion's prime role is to keep the Doctor on the straight and narrow morally, not to be just another pretty face beside him, which has happened frequently in the recent series to the detriment of the Doctor's character. 


A brief aside on the settings, SFX and costuming: I do like Bill's hairstyle with bangs, as it's much more flattering than her previous hairstyle without the face framing. And can Peter Capaldi's Doctor ever rock a top hat! He should wear one more often. The Regency era setting and costuming of Thin Ice were excellent, and I can't recall this historical era being done before on the show, so kudos for giving us another cool look into the past. Knock Knock's "haunted house" and super creepy insect special effects were very effective at striking a subtly horrific chord. Actor David Suchet will never be stereotyped as the clever and polite Hercule Poirot for me ever again!

The Doctor needs his human companion(s) to act as conscience since he isn't human (he's Gallifreyan), and he often forgets what his actions (or lack of actions) can mean to humans. The very first Doctor's companions of Barbara, Ian and Susan were perfect examples of how the Doctor's conscience is necessary. If you don't know what I mean, watch the very first episode An Unearthly Child and the three after it. Where would the Doctor be if his companions didn't help him then become the hero we know and love today?

I'm looking forward to the next episode and possibly seeing you at Marcon. Please leave a comment below and let me know what you think about Peter Capaldi's last season so far. Isn't he (to quote Doctor Nine)  fantastic?


P.S. I've been working hard on edits for the re-releases of my Loving Who series of novels. I'd forgotten some of the wild and wacky things my "companions" got up to in the series... "Time travel" makes us all a little forgetful occasionally!

P.P.S. I love the new cover for the third book in the series, Losing Who, don't you?


Thursday, April 27, 2017

Smile: Isn't that the name of a Chaplin song?


 Smile: Isn't that the name of a Chaplin song?

A very quick review of episode two, Smile, because I've lost my notes, and I'm coming down with a cold. Achoo!

I had big expectations for the second episode after The Pilot, hoping that we'd see more of the Doctor in action making the world a better place and not wearing that dreadful hoodie again. In a way, Smile fulfills some of those expectations and in another way, it doesn't. The hoodie with the Doctor's velvet coat returns (ugh), but it's the least of my worries. The title Smile is the name of a classic song written by the great comedian (and violinist) Charlie Chaplin (and also the name of a funny movie about beauty pageants), but it doesn't bother me really. There's something else nagging at me from my long term memory unaffected by spring allergies.

The story premise seems overly familiar. Where have we seen "inanimate objects" come to life and kill/harm humans before? Another one word title comes to mind: Blink. Instead of Weeping Angels, we now have killer Emojibots. The little robots are adorable, but I wish they could have been more noble in their actions and not quite so predictable.

Another overly familiar Doctor Who plot scenario--colonists in cryogenic status in danger of  waking up and not making it. Remember Tom Baker's The Ark in Space? Okay, so you can't always avoid repeating some set-ups in sci-fi, but could we at least see some more original twists in the set-up?

The setting and SFX photography are fantastic (to coin the Ninth Doctor's catch word) in Smile, and I really felt the Doctor and Bill were on an alien world and inside a futuristic building. The chemistry and camaraderie between the Doctor and Bill works well (in spite of her awful hairstyle and both their poor fashion sense). One would hope with good acting and great production values the script-writing would live up to these high standards, but it's not quite there. Yet.

I live in hope of episode three. Will the story quality match the quality of execution? We'll see.

What is your opinion so far of Doctor Who this season? Leave a comment below if you like. Thanks.


P.S. I'm finishing up my edits for the re-release of Loving Who. Can't wait for you to see it--all the adventure, comedy and romance a Whovian craves in one novel!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Doctor Who--and Loving Who--Return!

Doctor Who--and Loving Who--Return!
It's been a while since I wrote about the Doctor, but this month I have something to write about concerning both the latest series premiere and the re-release of my original Doctor Who-inspired series, Loving Who.

My wacky sci-fi romantic-comedies, beginning with the novel Loving Who, are no longer in print from their former publisher (due to a change in business model). The good news is they will be re-released with new cover art and new editing in all new editions from Devine Destinies Books. I'm excited because I really enjoyed revisiting my old friends Cici Connors and the alien John Smith from Loving Who, Leaving Who and Losing Who. I know a lot of new Whovians will enjoy their wild adventures in time, space and fandom, too. I can't wait to introduce them to these new Who-fans.

I don't have an exact release date yet for the first title, but I'll let you know when I do. In the meantime, I'd like to ask you favor... Would you be interested in reading and writing a short review of Loving Who and then posting your review to Amazon and Goodreads? I'd sincerely appreciate it, as the old reviews posted there will no longer be associated with the new release. So, if you're interested, please email me at cynthianna @ hotmail.com (no spaces) and let me know if you're able to help me out with a review. Thanks.

Now onto the quickie review of the opening episode, The Pilot. I must say Peter Capaldi is looking great and  seems very relaxed in the role of the Doctor. His hiding out at a university and teaching physics seems up the Doctor's alley, and it gave me a flashback to the partially filmed Douglas Adams' story, Shada, where the Doctor met an old friend who was hanging out as a professor at an English university. The TARDIS in the corner of his well-appointed office fits the decor perfectly.

The reasons why the Doctor has settled down for a spell to teach--and why the alien Nardole is still with him--aren't given, but I'm willing to give it a pass for now. The university professor situation is intriguing,  and the young woman he meets and encourages to study science is intriguing as well. "Bill" isn't your typical college co-ed, as she's not officially a student, and yet she's bright and eager to learn. (After seeing say some rather dumb lines in the trailers, I wasn't sure if I would like her, but she's much more intelligent than those short blurbs indicate. Whew!) About the only criticism I have of Bill after the first story is her horrible taste in clothing and unkempt hairstyle. Nothing she wears is flattering for her body type, in my opinion. I hope the costume and makeup department get to work on improving her look.

We learn in snippets that Bill (Pearl Mackie) is a foster child and never knew her mother. She's a sympathetic character and seems to have the ambition to make something of herself despite her poor circumstances. The Doctor and Nardole (Matt Lucas) seem to be protecting a "vault" in the basement of the building where the Doctor's office is located, but for what reason and from whom are still a mystery. The opening story isn't overly complicated, but it flows at a good pace and introduces Bill and the audience to the TARDIS and the idea that the Doctor is much more than meets the eye. This is always a good way to restart a series after it's been in hiatus for a while.

I'm looking forward to episode two, and hopeful Moffat doesn't derail the more positive and helpful Doctor to bring back his morose persona of the past seasons. Peter Capaldi announced this will be his last year to play the Doctor, and I'd rather he go out on a high note than a low one, wouldn't you? Fingers crossed!
P.S. My short story, If You Give a Time Traveler a Cookie, featuring Cici and John from Loving Who, will also be available from Devine Destinies. Keep it tuned here for details.

Saturday, February 04, 2017

Olivia's Return (BloodDark Series Book 2)

It's good to return home--or is it? A year after Olivia Brown's abduction by vampiric aliens, she isn't sure where she belongs anymore.

Cover art by Gwen Phifer.

Olivia's Return
by Cindy A. Matthews and Adrian J. Matthews
Desert Breeze Publishing, February 2017
(Click on cover for direct purchase link)

On Earth, Olivia's told to forget her adventures and go to college. But evidence of wrongdoing by the Pure Bloods prompt fellow Resistance fighter Annara to concoct a plan to spy on Clan Alpha. Are the Alphans dealing with billionaire Roland Grundfest, a man willing to supply "vampire brides" for a price to serve their needs for fresh DNA on BloodDark?

To become a spy, Olivia must do more than dye her hair and change her clothing tastes--she must lie to both her parents and her Quadsang boyfriend, Hernando. A little white lie can't hurt, can it? Once again on BloodDark, Olivia realizes she needs friends like Valori, whose psychic powers can incapacitate hired killers. Will Olivia return to Earth ever again?

Also available at Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Olivias-Return-BloodDark-Book-2-ebook/dp/B01N9XRMZ2/ref=sr_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1486166534&sr=1-4&keywords=Olivia%27s+Return

Excerpt

Something wasn't quite right. It was quiet aboard the small aircraft. Too quiet. A cold shiver of dread tingled up her spine. Olivia glanced around. Leaning across the narrow aisle, she whispered to Hernando, "Where are all the families? This is a holiday weekend, so you'd expect there would be more people than just us, your driver and those big beefy guys in the black suits and ties in the back... Oh, no."

Annara rotated in her seat and rose up slightly on one knee to gain a better view of their fellow passengers. "I wish they hadn't made me pack my bow and arrows."

Hernando frowned. "How many of them are there?"

"Counting your driver, six," Annara replied, returning to face forward. "These tight spaces will make it difficult to defend ourselves, especially if they have weapons."

"Don't forget we're in an airplane. Chances are they won't have guns. There's too much risk of shooting a hole through the fuselage which will endanger us all." Olivia swallowed a large lump in her throat and tried hard not to sound frightened. "The pilot is either one of them, or this is a hijacking."

"What is a hijacking?" Annara asked. "Does this mean they can make this aircraft go to where they want it to go without our say so?"

Olivia nodded. "Kidnapping ambassadors isn't unknown. You'd think all this extra security the government puts people through at airports would prevent something like this."

"Unless they are working for the government. It explains a lot." Hernando's grim tone didn't inspire confidence. Olivia reached out, took his hand and squeezed it. His expression grew darker. "We're at their mercy," he continued under his breath. "Should we announce ourselves? Or should we pretend we're oblivious to their plans?"

"The longer they don't suspect we're onto them, the greater the element of surprise when we turn on them," Annara suggested. Smiling, she stood up and turned around, pretending to re-arrange the seat pillow behind her back. "They're watching us. We should wait until we've landed to make our move. That way, we won't have to worry about dropping out of the sky."

"The soaring lizards of the deserts soar so high on BloodDark," Valori whispered, "and many years ago in the days of my youth the great ships lifted by hot air and the fiery gas..."

Olivia startled and turned to her seat mate. Valori stood, her petite height allowing her to turn about in her seat area and not hit her head on the overhead bin. Olivia had thought her friend was engrossed in reading the fashion magazine, unaware of what was happening. Was I ever wrong. How do you keep secrets from a psychic?

"They are working for an Earth organization friendly with Clan Alpha," Valori explained in a calm and reassuring tone. "I sense their loyalty is more to the money they are promised if they bring you to their employer unharmed, however, and not the honor of the clan or their organization."

"Valori, sit down, please." Olivia took her friend's hand and tried to pull her into her seat, but the older woman resisted.

"Their lack of honor will be their undoing. They're going to sleep now for a very long time." Valori closed her eyes and concentrated, her brow wrinkling.

What on Earth is she doing? Can she use her mind as a weapon? Olivia and the others stole quick glances at the rear of the plane and were surprised to see the men in black slumping in their seats. A couple of them began to snore. The limo driver, sitting several rows behind them, stood up. He looked at the sleeping men in astonishment. A nervous sheen of sweat dotted his brow.

"Where do you think you're going?" Valori addressed the quivering chauffeur in her typical calm manner. "This aircraft soars very high in the sky. You wouldn't want to open the door by accident and fall out of it."
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