Film Review: “Atlantis: The Lost Empire” (2001)

Title: Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001) IMDb
Company: Disney Animation
Directors: Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise
Voice Actors: Michael J. Fox (Milo), James Garner (Rourke), Cree Summer (Kida), Leonard Nimoy (the King of Atlantis)
Score Composer: James Newton Howard
Length: 95 minutes
Rating (US): “Rated PG for action violence.”
Spoiler-free Synopsis: “A young adventurer named Milo Thatch joins an intrepid group of explorers to find the mysterious lost continent of Atlantis.” (IMDb)
Reason for Watching: Vaguely I remembered seeing it when it came out, and thinking it mediocre. Since then I’ve heard the soundtrack and loved it, being as it is by James Newton Howard, and wanted to give the rest of the movie another chance.
Movie Re-watchability: While not among the great Disney classics, this is still a movie I would readily watch again, primarily for the beauty and energy of the animation itself.
Director Re-watchability: Trousdale and Wise also directed Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, which is among the great Disney classics. My guess is, these guys are re-watchable.
Recommendation: If you’ve the slightest interest, it is worth a watch. It won’t emotionally affect you, or leave you with deep thoughts to think afterward, but it does an excellent job of entertaining.

Key Thoughts

It’s refreshing to watch a movie with a lean hour-and-a-half run time. While I have a soft spot for true epics—like Spartacus, Lawrence of Arabia, Gandhi, The Lord of the Rings—today’s casual movies have grown bloated and overlong, often taking two-and-a-half hours to tell a ninety minute story. Atlantis: The Lost Empire does not overstay its welcome; rather, it takes you on a quick and bumpy adventure where the sights and thrills are delivered with polish and professionalism. If the plot has gaping holes (which it does), and the story lacks depth (ditto), we forgive them because the animation is beautiful and energetic and the characters are fun.

Princess Kida: You are a scholar, are you not? Judging from your diminished physique and large forehead, you are suited for nothing else!

Of course, she's a few thousand years old, but is that really relevant?

Milo Thatch is the perfect Hollywood hero-nerd: conventionally slender and handsome, wears glasses, is an absent-minded but otherwise brilliant professor (in all but title), smiles a lot and sometimes goofily, is clumsy in a manner both endearing and startlingly destructive, likes to ramble quickly about arcane matters which bore everyone else to tears, and in the end gets the exotically gorgeous magical princess. And has the minor triumph of discovering a lost magical civilization, thus justifying all his years of esoteric research and theories.

Gosh, I’m so close to being him, so close. I just need some good looks, a princess, and success!

Milo: Will you look at the size of this? It’s gotta be half a mile high, at least. It-It must have taken hundred- No, thousands of years to carve this thing.
[Vinny sets off the TNT at the pillar’s base, and it falls down over a chasm]
Vinny: Hey, look, I made a bridge. It only took me like, what? Ten seconds? Eleven, tops.

What enlivens the movie apart from its fast pace are the sharply-drawn cast and their snappy dialogue. Everyone’s role is predictable and clichéd, but I smiled at the artifices and relaxed because the protagonists are so likable and the villains appropriately charismatic. The voice-actors are all well cast, and even the celebrities like Michael J. Fox and Leonard Nimoy add to their characters rather than distract from them. Vinny Santorini, the demolitions expert voiced by Don Novello, is my favorite, with the quip above, and this one after seeing the Atlantean flying vehicles that are designed like fish: “You got something sporty? You know, like a tuna?” Everyone gets some fun dialogue. It’s not Joss Whedon (or maybe it is, since he is one of seven credited writers), but it’s a bit more innovative and energetic than your standard Hollywood fare, or even your standard animated fare.

I like the whole design aesthetic, too. The movie is set in 1914, and features a truly nifty Jules Verne-inspired submarine. The scale of the underwater scenes is impressive, with massive sea creatures (actually magic robots built by the Atlanteans) guarding the abyssal caverns that lead circuitously to the hidden city. Our heroes move through these awesome locales by a series of dangerous events and little time for rest or reflection. It’s pure pulp adventure, and lots of fun.

Amateur musician and music-lover that I am, I must always mention the music as well. James Newton Howard is one of my favorite composers, specializing in themes that are elegantly magical. His work here complements the artwork very well, adding the extra layer of depth and mystical atmosphere that the movie’s fast pace sometimes works against. Listen to “The Secret Swim” and the action-packed “Leviathan.”

Princess Kida: We are not thriving. True, our people live, but our culture is dying. We are like a stone the ocean beats against. With each passing year a little more of us is worn away.

My main complaint boils down to the fact that Atlantis: The Lost Empire features too little of Atlantis itself. The only scenes that take place in the city proper are in the King’s courtyard or a place or two at its outskirts. I wanted to explore the island, its culture, and the ways the Atlanteans have survived the millennia. Exciting glimpses are given to us by the design team: a towering central mountain ringed with Mayincatec-style buildings, lush terraces, and stone vehicles that fly by magic. But the plot itself is all about explorers and their loyalties/greed/self-respect, and has little to do with Atlantis or its wonders. Relatively few of the legendary people are actually seen, despite our heroes frequently walking through the bustling city’s center, and none beyond Princess Kida and the King have any dialogue or personality. To be fair, it makes sense that Atlantis would have a small population; we are told that they have lifespans of hundreds of years, and with only one underwater island on which to live probably do not reproduce much (although some children are seen). Still, Atlantis is all artwork and no personality.

After all, at one time the built robots like this.

Some other elements annoyed me. For instance, the mercenaries take over Atlantis far too easily. The Atlanteans are shown with some weapons, and Kida clearly has lightning quick reflexes and a willingness to kill; after the mercenaries reveal their violent purpose, she jumps on one of them and whips out a knife, and is only prevented from slitting his throat by Commander Rourke shooting the knife out of her hand. And yet the mercenaries are able to walk through Atlantis with guns displayed, the princess captive, with apparently no one noticing until they get to the king’s dais. I’d expect Atlantis to have an army. An army with flying vehicles. Kida couldn’t get her vehicle to work because she misunderstood one little part of the instructions. Ergo, the flying vehicles are not disabled, and Atlantis likely has a defense army that can use them. So where are they?

Seek, and ye shall find the Big A.

Also, no good reason is given for why the Atlanteans themselves have not found the Heart which powers them. Rourke finds it so easily: in the pond before the king’s throne is a symbol, and if you stand in the center of the symbol, the ground lowers like an elevator to take you to the floating Heart of Atlantis. Are we to believe that in ten thousand years no Atlantean ever stood on that spot, even by accident? And how could they forget such an important detail of their city’s livelihood? Must they be that dumb? And speaking of that, why is it so easy to get to after all? It’s barely hidden at all.


But these complaints are ultimately inconsequential, belonging as they do to some other, more serious, movie in my imagination. True, I may have preferred a more deeply mythical atmosphere, like Hayao Miyazaki might have given it, to the slapstick gags that the Disney company loves so much. But that’s not what the filmmakers chose to make. Instead, Atlantis: The Lost Empire is a fast-paced kids’ adventure with beautiful animation and a happy helping of wit and personality.

TV Show Review: BBC’s Robin Hood Episode 1.06 “The Tax Man Cometh”

Series Title: Robin Hood (IMDb)
Episode: 1.06 “The Tax Man Cometh”
Original Air Date: November 11, 2006
Length: 45 minutes
Director: Dwight O’Dwyer
Writer: Dominic Minghella
Lead Actors: Jonas Armstrong (Robin), Richard Armitage (Guy of Gisborne), Keith Allen (Sheriff of Nottingham), Lucy Griffiths (Marian), Anjali Jay (Djaq)
Synopsis: “Robin captures a tax inspector and plots to heist the year’s taxes, but a surprise is in store for both him and the sheriff; Marian makes her own preparations after a row with her father, and Gisborne makes his intentions clear.”
Recommendation: Another fun episode with lots of tricking going on. Probably a good entry point for someone new to the show, I think.

Key Thoughts

Allan A Dale

Aside from the entertaining villains, I really am liking Robin himself and the outlaws. They’re all appealing personalities, especially Allan A Dale. In fact, Much is the one who is becoming increasingly annoying. Not horribly so, but so far he has been stuck in the mode of “wimpy complainer.” He’s the butt of jokes, eternally frightened and over-earnest either about silly things, or about serious things in a silly way, and lacks any discernable toughness or sense of humor. I feel that any serious outlaw group would long ago have left him behind or found a way to keep him out of their important outlaw endeavors. In the first episode, he somewhat functioned as an extra conscience for Robin (despite Robin himself being generally the most upright character), but since then that role has been usurped by Allan. This may account partially for Allan being my favorite outlaw, but much also has to be said for his good sense, good humor, warm-hearted honesty, and considerable competence. On the whole, they are a proper band of capable young men out to fight injustice and have some fun along the way.

The outlaw with the least development thus far is the new girl Djaq, the “Saracen” with an anti-Christian anti-English chip on her shoulder (courtesy of the nasty Crusades). Considering she was just introduced last episode, it’s surprising that she should get no more than two or three lines this time. She’s not given any personality traits beyond “feisty” and “angry,” and so appears to be a pointless novelty.

Sir Guy of Gisborne is quite sympathetic in this episode. His concern for the (apparently wounded near death) “Abbess of Rufford” is genuine, even earning him scorn from the Sheriff. And he is consistently nice towards Marian, and almost romantic as he declares that he will continue to be kind to her and pursue her affections in spite of her rejections. He does not force himself on her; in fact, he almost seems a tad bit tongue-tied in her presence. In his wooing there is a certain gentleness and vulnerability. It’s no wonder he’s popular with fangirls. Of course he would make a terrible husband for Marian, being hard and intolerant of her outspokenness, and he has earned his villain-hood already (you’ll pardon the pun). Yet he is a character with layers and believability, and I like that.

Obligatory Marian rant

Of Marian herself, she continues to be selfish and arrogant while inexplicably retaining the show’s support. I suppose we are expected to cheer for her as some sort of feminist paradigm, and yet all I see is a spoiled brat who disrespects her father and her friends and gets away with it because of her pretty face. She manipulates everyone around her into thinking she is a brave little victim, when truthfully most of her troubles are her own fault. She is perfectly placed to be Robin’s help inside Nottingham and its castle, but she performs that role reluctantly, and almost with disgust. One thinks she would not be satisfied unless she were the leader of a band of outlaws herself, gaining her own fame by rubbing in the mud the faces of all those who annoy her.

Oh alright, she has her nice moments. Her concern for the oppressed peasants feels genuine, and the revelation of how deep is her father’s love for her brings out a nice tearful hug. But these moments almost feel like exceptions to the rule. At the very least, they do not excuse her poor behavior elsewhere.

TV Show Review: BBC’s Robin Hood Episode 1.04 “Parent Hood”

Series Title: Robin Hood (IMDb)
Episode: 1.04 “Parent Hood”
Original Air Date: October 28, 2006
Length: 45 minutes
Director: Richard Standeven
Writer: Paul Cornell
Lead Actors: Jonas Armstrong (Robin), William Beck (Royston White), Richard Armitage (Guy of Gisborne), Keith Allen (Sheriff of Nottingham), Gordon Kennedy (Little John)
Synopsis: “Roy is captured and the results may be dire for Locksley; at Nottingham, Marian pays a price for her outspokenness.” (IMDb)
Recommendation: Another strong episode.

Key Thoughts (with a big SPOILER this time)

Marian: [Robin is sending food over walls attached to arrows] That is a waste of arrows!
Robin Hood: No!
Marian: You could simply throw the food.
Robin Hood: We could. But where would be the fun in that?

Royston White

This episode focuses on Royston White, the more aggressive and bullying of the outlaws, who gets captured by the Sheriff’s men. He was the de facto leader of the group before Robin came and has an especially strong relationship with Little John. Much disliked him because of his boisterous, mocking nature, but this episode does a lot to make him more likable. Right before killing him off.

Oh, the outlaws do mount a rescue attempt, certainly. But as they fight their way through the courtyard, Roy ends up having to sacrifice himself to buy the others’ time to escape. We see half a dozen soldiers back Roy against a wall and hack him down—it’s a bit intense for a family show, even though it is filmed from behind the soldiers and you never see the weapons actually hit him.

"What're we gonna do? Give 'im a little dagger and quiver of arrows?"

Another plot thread involves the outlaws finding an abandoned infant in the forest. After some moral prodding from Robin, they agree to find a way to return it to its mother. This leads to some amusing dialogue, like Will Scarlet wondering if they should just give the baby boy a little bow and quiver if he’s going to pal around with them.

The third plot thread involves Marian getting into trouble for not being subtle enough in her opposition of the Sheriff. Seemingly disregarding the privileges of nobles, the Sheriff decides that for the rule of law to be preserved, he must make a public example of her. Her punishment is to have her beautiful long hair cut to a conveniently modern-looking shoulder length.

The Sheriff and Sir Guy pretty much have run of the whole county.

A few aspects about this part struck me as odd. I may be mistaken, but I don’t think a sheriff of that time would have had the authority to punish someone of noble blood without direct authorization from the king (or in this case, the as-yet unseen Prince John). Also, I can’t believe that the other nobles in the area (whom we rarely see, but were present in Episode 1) would allow one of their own to be so humiliated like that. Nobles tended to stick up for their own rights and privileges, and to not show proper respect for one could be a serious offense. Additionally, Marian’s father makes no protest at all, despite being very wide-eyed and fearful all through the proceedings. As a respected noble and former sheriff himself, I’d think he would have at least some influence in such a serious matter.

As another side note, I don’t like how Robin quotes from the Qur’an instead of the Bible. Presumably this is to show his cultural sensitivity (and to set up Episode 5). However, it comes across as the show going out of its way to de-Christianize the medieval Christian setting as much as possible to make it palatable for a modern liberal audience.

Now for my…

Obligatory Marian rant

When Robin saves Marian from some harassing guards, he asks roguishly “Having some trouble?” And she replies arrogantly and disdainfully with “Nothing I couldn’t handle myself, thank you.” Really mature, Marian. Not only are you lying in a desperate attempt to preserve the illusion of your own superiority, but you are incapable of showing gratitude when someone does you a good turn.

Biggest shot we've got yet.

Later, Robin asks Marian if she can take the abandoned baby to Knighton, where its mother is supposed to be, and her instant retort is “Because I’m a woman?” all defensive-like. YES, Marian, because you are a woman. Women give birth and are generally better at nurturing babies than men are. Yes, you, Marian, because Robin and his men are hunted outlaws in the greenwood and can’t take care of an infant, whereas you, respectable woman that you are, can easily make sure the baby stays safe and well-fed and gets returned to his parents. If you want the moral high ground, do not act as though your anachronistic and inappropriate faux-feminism is more important to you than a baby’s life.

Then when Robin says he has to leave, for his safety (they are in a village), she wryly calls it “the call of the wild.” Robin immediately calls her out on this, asking why everything she says is a criticism. Her excuse? “I do not know. I suppose these are the lives we have chosen. Always different directions.” She thinks that she is being “careful” and therefore stands a better chance of fighting the Sheriff; that is, without ever directly confronting him. Robin is quick to point out her hypocrisy (and a few times where she has acted more boldly like him, in contradiction to her own stated views). The show does acknowledge her rudeness, but not its inappropriateness.


Overall, though, it’s another strong episode. Roy’s death has enough gravity to work, and the episode still manages to end on an upbeat, even funny, note. Solid entertainment.

TV Show Review: “Highlander” Season 2

Read my review of Season 1 here.

Series Title: Highlander: The Series Season 2 (1993-1994) (IMDb)
Length: 22 episodes, 45 minutes per episode
Lead Actors: Adrian Paul, Stan Kirsch, Alexandra Vandernoot, Jim Byrnes, Elizabeth Gracen
Content Advisory: Swashbuckling violence, not much blood. Occasional sex scenes that do sort of push the PG-13 level the show shoots for, and one episode has partial female nudity. Occasional swearing of the S.O.B. variety, no F-words.
Spoiler-free Synopsis: The continuing adventures of the heroic Immortal. Duncan MacLeod’s life has gotten darker and sadder after the death of Darius in the Season 1 finale, and further sorrows await him, Tessa, and Richie. Fortunately, there are also new friends to be made who will be of great aid against MacLeod’s mounting number of enemies.
Reason for Watching: I like the character of Duncan MacLeod, the historical flashbacks, and the way the writing is slowly getting better.
Re-watchability: Though the stories tend to have a nice sense of atmosphere, I’m not likely to rewatch them anytime soon, if ever. An exception would be Ep. 2.09 “Run For Your Life,” which is really excellent.
Recommendation: Again, does the idea of sword-wielding Immortals secretly carrying on a millennia-old war while maintaining “normal” mortal aliases appeal to you? If no, then this season will not win you over. If yes, then you’ll find plenty of good things to enjoy in it. Also, while the first season provides a lot of developmental background for the characters of Tessa Noel and Richie Ryan, I don’t think Season 1 is necessary to understand Season 2. The first episode, 2.01 “The Watchers,” follows directly from Season 1’s finale, but otherwise I think you can easily start in Season 2 without much trouble.

Obtainability: If you can’t get the DVDs, you can find the whole series on Hulu.

Key Thoughts

The major reason for Season 2’s superiority over Season 1 is that the writers are finally willing to break the formula they established and move into more purposeful examinations of certain themes and ideas. The swashbuckling adventure is still present, but whereas Season 1 was almost exclusively a mystery format—strange crime is committed, police are stumped, Duncan is reminded of an old Immortal enemy or friend whom he instinctively knows is the criminal, Duncan confronts and beheads said evil Immortal—Season 2 is suddenly rife with character studies and moral quandaries. While in some ways I lament the darker tone—tired as I get of Angst—the slight increase in unpredictability is welcome.

Duncan MacLeod is still an engaging character. His nobility, chivalry, confidence, cunning, good humor, and self-restraint are refreshing compared to the kind of action heroes that television and the movies have foisted upon us lately. While all this still holds true, Season 2 is darker than Season 1, and much of the fun-loving humor is replaced with brooding and tension, especially regarding Richie Ryan.

SPOILERS beyond this point!

Episode 2.01 “The Watchers”
Writer: Marie-Chantal Droney
Synopsis: After the death of Darius at the hands of a group of renegade Immortal-hating Watchers, Duncan returns to the United States to investigate this shadowy group, who have been secretly watching and recording the deeds of Immortals for millennia.

The idea of the Watchers is a great one, and it adds a whole new layer of mystery and tension to the Highlander universe. These mortals are even more secretive and shadowy than the Immortals themselves! Aside from their intelligence-gathering, however, they tend to be almost inept—perhaps this is a side-effect of being set in the early 1990s? Joe Dawson is a welcome new character, though. He’s Duncan’s personal Watcher and ranks high in the organization. He is also a man of high morals, compassion, and wisdom—a natural friend for Duncan and even something of a replacement mentor to make up for the loss of Darius.

Darius, the ancient-warlord-turned-wise-monk. No longer is bent on the conquest of peaceful, green-pastured kingdoms.

The move from Paris back to Seacouver provokes an interesting argument with Tessa. Duncan is a bit intimidated by how little he knows of these Watchers (and the fact that they managed to kill Darius) and he wants Tessa to remain in France for her safety. Tessa tells him that she must go too: they are either together, or they aren’t. This shows how much Tessa has to work to keep Duncan. He’s used to having long periods of independence where he can just go off anywhere in the world to investigate or have an adventure – Tessa is reminding him that he has made a commitment to her, and that even if they aren’t legally married, he has effectively married her by committing to stay with her all of her life. Her love is touching and feels very real, and it persuades Duncan to relent. She really is good for him.

On a side note, Richie’s off-the-cuff plans are getting more outrageous and daring, but are also starting to work better. I like it—they’re more fun that way!

Episode 2.02 “Studies in Light”
Written By: Naomi Janzen
Synopsis: “An Immortal with a death wish endangers Richie’s life while Duncan meets an old mortal lover.” (Wikipedia)

This episode hints at the different direction Season 2 is taking, as it focuses on the angsty character of Gregor. It’s a good episode, though not as good as some yet to come. For instance, the show in general has a horrible track record with regard to female reporters: the one in Duncan’s flashbacks for this episode is horribly written. Her dialogue is corny and unrealistic, the acting is even worse. It took less than a minute for me to hate her character. Fortunately, her older self in the “present time” is much nicer and more intelligent.

In fact, much of the show’s dialogue still misses golden opportunities to develop character more quickly and effectively. When Gregor asks Richie what he thinks it would be like for him to be immortal, Richie says “Are you kidding? That’d be great! The places I’d go, the things I’d do, the women I’d…” Instead of these cliché phrases, he could have mentioned specific things he actually would like to do, and that would have revealed his character more. Like “I’d climb Everest, spend some time trekking around Tibet learning from the monks there. I’d sail around the globe. Go to Australia, master the Outback. Go to Japan, learn how to forge my own katana in the old ways. I’d attend every Olympic Games, and most of the World’s Fairs. I’d recreate Jim and Huck Finn’s journey down the Mississippi on a wooden raft…” Things like that.

Also, this episode may be the first to end with the antagonists’ redemption, and thus it has no Quickening. While swordfights and Quickenings are fun, they were becoming rather predictable.

Episode 2.03 “Turnabout”
Written By: David Tynan
Synopsis: “Duncan must handle the return of the old friend and the Immortal serial killer who is stalking him.”

A mediocre but serviceable story. The show continues to use conspicuously sinister names for its villains (in this case, Quenten Barnes)—depending on your point of view or your mood, these are either too ridiculous or part of the show’s charm. For me they are mostly the latter.

Episode 2.04 “The Darkness”
Written By: Christian Bouveron & Lawrence Shore
Synopsis: “A Watcher-Hunter is stalking Immortals, kidnapping their loved ones to force them into a fight on his terms… and Tessa is the next one to be kidnapped.”

The infamous heartbreaking episode. Tessa and Richie both die, shot by a random mugger after the main villain has been defeated. Richie wakes up Immortal…Tessa doesn’t.

Even if you didn’t know that Tessa would die this episode, it does lay on the foreboding feelings pretty thick. Early on, Duncan flashes back to when he used to be in love with a Roma fortune-teller who had a psychic connection that allowed her to get glimpses of his life (sword-fighting, hundreds of women, never marrying). She rejected him, thinking that he was just a womanizer with no intention of marrying her. Remembering this, Duncan proposes to Tessa, suddenly and in a bar, which of course she accepts happily even though it’s kind of strange. Duncan has never married because he thinks “What’s the point?” He can’t have children, so he prefers to live with his lovers without bothering with a formality like marriage. (Not that I approve of this—it’s a weakness in his morality.) But thinking he might lose Tessa, the idea of marriage suddenly becomes important to him. He wants to defy “fate” (the Roma woman had tried to curse him to never marry) and to show Tessa how much more he loves her than all the other women in his life.  But, alas, she dies.

To answer the obvious question, yes, it annoys me, but it doesn’t break the show. Apparently, the actress wanted out—she hoped for a film career and didn’t want to be typecast as a TV love interest. Hard to blame her for that, since she certainly had the talent and onscreen charisma to make such a career possible. Anyway, she was probably the best recurring actor on the show, and Tessa was a fine character, definitely the emotional center but also providing much wisdom and restraint. Duncan isn’t complete without her, and as a result of her death he does become darker.

He still has Richie, of course, now Immortal. I kind of knew it was going to happen—just seemed the obvious move for his character. And I’m glad—it forces Richie (theoretically) to grow up a bit. He’s not watching the Immortals battle from the sidelines, now he is part of the game himself, and he has to make the big choices that Duncan does. It’ll take him awhile, though.

It’s actually a decent episode, overall. The main plot is bland and irrelevant, but still well-played. Even though the following episodes will be sorely lacking the warmth of Tessa Noel, I have to admit that the writing in them does improve. It’s a pity we couldn’t have both.

Episode 2.05 “An Eye for an Eye”
Written By: Elizabeth Baxter and Martin Broussellet
Synopsis: “Richie must face his first Immortal opponent when he opposes an Immortal Irish terrorist who is one of Duncan’s former lovers.”

The interesting part of the episode is, of course, Richie being immediately hunted by a much more experienced Immortal and having to step up his swordsmanship training from Duncan. This is made more difficult by the tension between them due to Tessa’s death. Duncan is still emotionally devastated and has little patience; he knows he has to make Richie a master swordsman now, or risk his beheading, but Richie also needs some emotional guidance that Duncan can’t quite provide. (Actually, this is the time they would really have benefited from having Darius around, but alas.)

Unfortunately, this drama is overshadowed by an incredibly stupid affair Duncan has with the female Immortal hunting Richie, because she happens to be a former lover of his. The producers explain their reasoning that they wanted to contrast the death of the previous episode with life in this one, and since somehow sex equals life, therefore Duncan should sleep with the first old flame he comes across. This idea’s bizarreness, insensitivity, and grotesqueness should be apparent. It feels utterly out of character for Duncan—womanizer that he can be—and completely disrespects the character of Tessa.

One good thing is that this show introduces Charlie de Salvo, the martial artist whose dojo Duncan buys (since he sold his antiques shop the last time he left Seacouver). I like the character, even if by the end of this season the writers ran out of things to do with him. He gets the short stick on the show, rarely getting the respect he deserves from Duncan or being able to stand on his own with his fighting skills, but he’s a likable and kind character while he’s around.

Episode 2.06 “The Zone”
Written By: Peter Mohan
Synopsis: “Duncan comes to the aid of a neighborhood plagued by crooks.”

This is supposed to be one of the worst Highlander episodes ever, and even the producers on the DVD extras admit their shame at its existence. I’m surprised at the intensity of this reaction, since while it certainly is very weak, I didn’t feel it was horrible. I like seeing Duncan fight mortal bad guys from time to time—it’s easy to get oversatured with Quickenings in this show. Still, it’s poorly paced and doesn’t leave much impact. The characters are shallow and even the historical flashback doesn’t do much.

Episode 2.07 “The Return of Amanda”
Written By: Guy Mullaly and David Tynan
Synopsis: “Amanda returns and announces her retirement, but it soon becomes clear she’s involved in something nefarious.”

The cat-burglar lady Amanda from Season 1’s “The Lady and the Tiger” (the Jason Isaacs episode) returns. She heard about Tessa’s death and now wants to become MacLeod’s lover again. Frankly, I’d have preferred Jason Isaacs’ character to have returned, but I suppose he was beheaded.

While the flashbacks to Nazi Germany are interesting, actress Elizabeth Gracen forces the vamp role too much. Amanda comes across a little cartoonish, and even though she later lightens up and displays more charisma, her character still feels shallow and unlikable. She’s a poor replacement for Tessa, since she always makes horrible decisions and we can never trust her. The only thing that could possibly attract Duncan to her is her body, and since he obviously can’t keep his hands off her, her very presence reduces our respect for the show’s hero. That is not a good thing.

Which leads me to a Doctor Who comparison. In Series 3 of Doctor Who (my review of which is not yet posted, true), the writers show that they really understand the effect that Rose’s loss has on the audience by not forcing the Doctor to quickly move on to another romance. While the memory of Rose doesn’t co-opt the entire story, it is always there, and we never once think that the Doctor is disrespecting it. The writers and producers of Highlander completely flub this with regards to Tessa’s death. It’s not given the weight it deserves. It gets brought up once or a couple times an episode, and MacLeod tells people he doesn’t want to talk about it, but then that’s it. He lets Amanda in too easily and quickly, and isn’t shown thinking about Tessa or grieving for her.

Episode 2.08 “Revenge of the Sword”
Written By: Aubrey Solomon
Synopsis: “Jimmy Sang, a martial arts movie star, is filming in the dojo. When a stuntman is killed, MacLeod realizes that Jimmy’s life is in danger.”

Oops, I forgot to take notes on this episode. It is filled with some great fight scenes, featuring a variety of swords and combat styles, probably to make up for how the previous episodes pulled back from having as much action. The plot is still pretty standard kung-fu movie stuff involving one young and idealistic martial artist defying Asian gangsters; it’s the kind of story that Bruce Lee would have expanded into a feature-length movie made of awesome (oh wait, he already did. Multiple times). But even though the characters don’t get a great deal of development, they still are kind of interesting, and the action is fun.

Episode 2.09 “Run For Your Life”
Written By: Naomi Janzen
Synopsis: “Duncan comes to the aid of an Immortal, a former slave, who is being stalked by the Hunters.”

This is the best episode of Highlander in all of the first two seasons. It’s the first one I would show to someone who was interested in the show but might be turned off by the amateurish parts of Season 1. It’s highly character-based, and for once there is no true villain—only an Immortal who must learn the hard lesson of forgiving one’s enemies and not giving in to the hatred he is reacting against. Everything here, from the story to the acting to the writing and directing, it’s all top-notch, and leagues better than the episodes surrounding it. At the same time, you can see the elements that make it so good appear in previous episodes; finally, they have all come together.

Sorry I have no screenshots from "Run For Your Life." Please accept this one from "Legacy" depicting a duel on a hay bale in front of French ruins.

Carl Robinson was born a slave in 1824, and his first death was due to beating by his owner in 1859. The life story the writers build for him is very interesting. Though he lived through decades of terrible oppression, he still had periods of idealism where he thought he could change the world and wasn’t too bitter. But by the time he meets up with MacLeod again in 1993, he’s bitter again, concluding that racism is ever-present and imagining racist motivations even where they do not exist. He trusts MacLeod due to an encounter decades ago, but for a time angrily resists MacLeod’s arguments in favor of forgiveness and peace. Even more interesting are his encounters with Charlie de Salvo, now a fast friend of MacLeod’s, who is half black and half Italian, and who has little patience for anyone who makes race an issue. Of course, Charlie still doesn’t know about Immortality and might have been kinder to Carl had he known that Carl has actually lived through slavery, the KKK, Jim Crow, and the entire history of racism in the US from the past century and a half. But still, Charlie and MacLeod challenge Carl to reexamine his own bitterness. His character arc is really fascinating, and the actor (Bruce Young) does a fantastic job.

Episode 2.10 “Epitaph for Tommy”
Written By: Philip John Taylor
Synopsis: “Tommy is a bystander accidentally killed during a fight between Duncan and Immortal Gallen. MacLeod tries to find out more about the dead man.”

If “Run For Your Life” was a character study and discussion of racism, then this episode is more of a murder mystery, going back to a more familiar format for the show. After a long gap, we get another totally evil Immortal, a long buildup to an end swordfight, and a Quickening for Duncan. It’s good, though not as good as “Run For Your Life.” Going back to the older plot format highlights how the writing and acting has improved. Though the format is familiar and predictable, it is set up with a bit more complexity than Season 1’s mysteries, and thus generates more interest and satisfaction at the end.

The one part that did not work at all was the part where Duncan puts all the clues together in his head – what we see are washed-out flashbacks layered on top of each other, with Duncan narrating his thoughts in a whisper that is almost drowned out by rock music. You can’t hear what he’s saying enough to follow the thoughts, it is very annoying and amateurish.

Episode 2.11 “The Fighter”
Written By: Morrie Ruvinsky
Synopsis: “MacLeod’s old friend Sully can charm anyone into anything. But when Sully’s rival turns up dead, MacLeod’s opinion of him begins to alter.”

Another strong episode featuring a very complex and well-acted character (in Sully) and some fine writing, but it falls short of the excellence of “Run For Your Life.” On the plus side, the boxing world is very convincingly recreated, and Sully himself has flashes of Mickey Goldmill (Rocky’s trainer); the toughness, the pain of unrealized ambition, the sliver of hope for a better future. It’s well brought out.

Two things disappointed me. One is that Sully, who physically appears to be in his ‘80s, is trying to romantically pursue a pretty woman in her ‘20s. Now, of course age becomes less of an issue for Immortals—after all, Duncan was about 360 years Tessa’s senior! But they looked the same age, and that counted for something. With Sully, it seemed creepy, and a bit unrealistic, for Duncan to encourage him in this endeavor. But that’s a somewhat small thing. The bigger thing that bugged me was the ending. Without revealing it, I think Duncan lost his patience too soon, and too easily resorted to violence. The ending was unsatisfying. But otherwise it is a fascinating episode.

Episode 2.12 “Under Color of Authority”
Written By: Peter Mohan
Synopsis: “Richie protects a young woman from an Immortal bounty hunter.”

And another very good episode! The antagonist here is one of the best—a stone-cold lawman named Mako who has been enforcing the letter of the law (regardless of extenuating circumstances and the concepts of mercy) since the Middle Ages. The age he was made for, however, seems to be the American Wild West, and this episode provides some really good flashbacks to that period. They illustrate MacLeod’s thinking process. He failed to persuade Mako to show deserved mercy to a young friend in the Old West, and Mako killed the young man. It was wrong morally, but still legal, and MacLeod couldn’t do anything about it. In the modern day, MacLeod is worried about losing Richie to Mako, and with even less cause, because he doesn’t know if the girl really deserves mercy or if Mako is genuinely upholding the Law by pursuing her. MacLeod is in a really, genuinely tough spot, and the whole show hinges on his moral decision.

It’s not a happy story, though. Richie achieves his first Quickening, but the victory is highly unsatisfactory in the fact that his enemy made a simple mistake (and thus Richie didn’t quite deserve the victory) and that Richie may not have been right to kill Mako after all. Richie’s been having an extremely tough time of it. For a number of previous episodes he skipped off to do his own thing, apparently without telling MacLeod, but coming back when he needed help or advice. His recklessness and arrogance causes him to more frequently clash with MacLeod, though, to the point where MacLeod has finally had enough. At the end of this episode, he asks Richie to leave. It’s a sad moment, but MacLeod has little choice. Richie’s morals yet aren’t the same as MacLeod’s, due to his inexperience, and MacLeod sees that the boy can only learn by trial and error. They part painfully.

This is not to say that Richie leaves the show—far from it, although the majority of the following Season 2 episodes do not contain him. But at this stage, he is too headstrong to learn more from MacLeod; we must hope that what has learned thus far will be enough to save his head!

Episode 2.13 “Bless the Child”
Written By: Elizabeth Baxter and Martin Broussellet
Synopsis: “Charlie and MacLeod come to the aid of Sara Lightfoot, an Indian woman on the run with a baby.”

Had this episode been part of Season 1, it would have been mediocre, but would not have stood out quite as much. Coming after a series of very strong and emotional episodes, its blandness and predictability is highlighted. Not that it’s a horrible story or anything—just lacking in much interest or creativity.

What I did like was that it was set in the forested mountains of the Northwest Pacific, which provides some nice scenery and rustic locales for the adventure. The flashbacks to the 1920’s were nicely done, and were used more subtly to bring out MacLeod’s sorrow that he is unable to have children. It’s a poignant cost of Immortality, and I’m glad the show acknowledges it, even if sometimes clumsily.

Episodes 2.14 and 2.15 “Unholy Alliance I & II”
Written By: David Tynan
Synopsis: “Xavier returns, using mortal mercenaries to take out his Immortal opponents. It soon becomes clear he is part of a darker alliance that threatens Duncan,” forcing the Highlander to return to Paris.

Xavier St. Cloud. The man has style.

Xavier St. Cloud, the devilishly sophisticated villain who lost his hand to Duncan in Season 1, returns with a vengeance, this time working with renegade Watcher James Morton (darn guy just won’t die!) and a band of mercenaries to hunt down Immortals. He’s one of the more entertaining villains, definitely, and his gentlemanliness is a façade for cowardice—he never plays by the rules, and here his tactics are so simple and straightforward that it’s a wonder other Immortals haven’t adopted them! His strategy is this: Confront the target Immortal with a handful of machine-gun toting goons, have goons fill target Immortal with lead, and while target Immortal lies gasping on the floor trying to regenerate his internal organs, behead him. It’s messy, but far less risky than the standard honorable duel.

It’s adventure and intrigue over character study, but there are still some great conversations between Charlie de Salvo and Duncan. Charlie is furious with Duncan because Duncan will never tell him what’s going on; and by this point, I think Charlie deserves to know. The dojo gets shot up by Xavier’s goons (not to mention Charlie himself), plus they murder Charlie’s old army friend (who was working for them, but still), and Duncan can only tell Charlie to “trust him.” Which from Charlie’s POV, understandably, doesn’t cut it. Too bad they ended the episode with Duncan still dragging Charlie out—I think Charlie deserves to know. He’s seen Duncan get killed and then come back, and he knows about all the swordfighting that goes on. It’d be hard for him to accept the magic of Immortality, but if Duncan can just show him enough to confirm it, he could understand.

At the end, Duncan decides to move back to Paris, leaving the dojo in Charlie’s hands.

Episode 2.16 “The Vampire”
Written By: J.P. Couture
Synopsis: “MacLeod comes up against Nicholas Ward, an Immortal who conceals his murders by disguising them as popular hysterias.”

This probably could have been one of the really good episodes—as it stands, it’s average fun. Nearly half the story is told in flashbacks to 19th century Paris, and they look properly moody and stylish, if a bit modest. The villain is really campy and fun, perhaps fitting his vampire mystique, and trades smug dialogue very well with Duncan. His final line is a classic: “Everyone’s a critic,” he moans, right before Duncan beheads him. Ha!

Episode 2.17 “Warmonger”
Written By: Christian Bouveron and Lawrence Shore
Synopsis: “MacLeod promised Immortal Drakov that he wouldn’t fight. Today, an old man urges MacLeod to recant his promise.”

The story is this. Back during the Bolshevik Revolution, MacLeod saved the lives of some friends of his by making a deal with the evil Immortal Drakov who was working for the revolutionaries and was going to execute the noble family. The deal was that Drakov would let them go if MacLeod promised never to fight Drakov unless they were the last 2 Immortals. Duncan agreed and that family was freed. But now, in the Paris of 1993, Drakov is back as the security advisor to the ruler of a small Eastern-European country and is trying to orchestrate a war. When the ruler decides to go a peaceful route instead, Drakov murders him and frames the enemy country.. Duncan has to decide whether he should keep his promise and let war happen unfairly, or whether he should break the promise, intervene, and thereby save many lives.

It’s an interesting dilemma, but not dealt with as deeply as it could have been. It’s decent, but not great.

Episode 2.18 “Pharaoh’s Daughter”
Written By: Christian Bouveron and Lawrence Shore
Synopsis: “MacLeod feels the Buzz coming from an ancient sarcophagus and opens it to find Nefertiri, Cleopatra’s handmaid, buried 2000 years ago.”

Many regard this as one of the best Highlander episodes ever, and in many ways it is. The concept is fantastic, the kind of story that could only be told in the Highlander universe. It centers around the old affair and heartache between two ancient Immortals: Nefertiri, the Egyptian noblewoman/handmaiden to Cleopatra, and Marcus Constantine, a Roman general.  When Marcus was unable to stop the Romans from mistreating Cleopatra and humiliating Egypt, Nefertiri declared herself betrayed by her lover and had herself killed and mummified, ostensibly to serve her mistress in the afterlife. But when she is freed in 1993, we learn that, impressively, it is Marcus who has matured, grown kinder, and learned to forgive. He’s even married happily to a French woman and has spent much of the past 2 millennia as a historian. He also happens to have been a friend of Darius’.

I think this is the first time we’ve had a story involving two other Immortals, where Duncan MacLeod himself is just on the periphery. It’s also the first time we’ve gotten historical flashbacks that weren’t Duncan’s. This is important, because Duncan’s flashbacks can only go back 400 years, whereas now we get transported back to Roman-era Egypt! As a minor classicist (literally, I minored in Classics), I found the flashbacks fun and well-done, in a classic Hollywood kind of way. The actors are good and the story intriguing.

But alas, there are problems with this episode, some negative issues that irritate me.

The biggest one is the sex. There is lots of sex and partial nudity in this episode. I skipped by those scenes whenever I saw them coming, but they’re quite pervasive. The show’s excuse is that Nefertiri always uses sex as a weapon and that her actress (Nia Peeples) is apparently too exotically gorgeous to not show off. Still, she didn’t need to disrobe at every available opportunity and be so ogled by the camera. Whenever movies and TV shows do this, it’s wrong and voyeuristic. If it inflames lust in you for anyone other than your spouse, it’s wrong, and this episode really tries to inflame the viewer’s lust. Her seduction and “lovemaking” with Duncan was the worst; Tessa’s barely in the grave before he’s slept with three other women! It’s not only gratuitous, but it hurts his character too. How are we supposed to keep believing in Duncan’s honor and sensitivity if he has no control over his libido?

There are also too many illogicalities: Nefertiri speaks flawless English as she steps from her sarcophagus, and it’s never explained how Nefertiri learned of her immortality, or how she survived 2000 years wrapped as a mummy with such perfect and clean skin, in such perfect physical condition, and without going mad. It’s just not addressed, and that is definitely something which needed to be addressed. Also, Egyptian practice was to take out the brains and all the inner organs before mummification, so how did Nefertiri escape this? While I’m glad the show has started reaching deeper into history and is starting to root its flashbacks more definitely around certain historical events, they really need to do better research and plan out their stories better than this!

Episode 2.19 “Legacy”
Written By: Elizabeth Baxter
Synopsis: “When her mentor Rebecca is killed, Amanda is determined to avenge her, even though it means going up against the formidable Immortal Luther.”

It’s a decent episode that tries to be more emotionally affecting than most, but in the end feels somewhat inconsequential. Much may depend on whether you like Amanda or not. Amanda is given more pathos here and allowed to be vulnerable; that’s good, because she’s far less annoying when we think we can trust her. Still, I don’t like the character. Doubt I ever will. Her Teacher, Rebecca, however, is a wonderful character, and it’s a real shame that she can’t come back (being dead and headless). Rebecca’s killer is a superstitious Immortal named Luther, who believes that by collecting 10 rare crystals he can increase his power ten times. He could be interesting, but that he isn’t given much screen time.

Luther’s quest, however, brings up the issue of the Highlander mythology, or rather its shallowness. The few facts that remain consistent are these: Immortals are born of human parents, they cannot have children, they can sense the nearby presence of other Immortals, they are undetectable as Immortal until they suffer a violent death, if a person is born Immortal but doesn’t die violently then their Immortality is not “activated” and they are truly dead, and the only way to kill an Immortal for good is to behead them, at which point the headless Immortals power surges into the nearest Immortal in an explosive event called the Quickening. That may sound like a lot of facts, but it isn’t. Everything beyond them is extremely flexible and uncodified. What “power” does an Immortal have, besides the passive ability to regenerate wounds, come back from the dead, and sense others of his kind? Practically speaking, none. So what does Luther intend to increase by collecting these crystals (assuming they work, which the episode implies they don’t)? Not his strength or his speed, or anything like that—it has been established that Immortals are just like normal humans in that regard. MacLeod strength comes from his being a battle-hardened warrior for 400 years, but a whack on the head will still knock him unconscious just like with anyone else.

Anyway, I wish the show would be much more clear and inventive with their magic and mythology, but I’m willing to accept the show for what it is. Just be aware that sometimes the writers seem to make things up as they go along.

Episode 2.20 “Prodigal Son”
Written By: David Tynan
Synopsis: “Richie returns turning to Duncan for help. An Immortal has been following him, refusing to confront him, but committing murders wherever Richie goes.”

You gotta like a show where an image like this (biker with a rapier) is totally justified.

The opening to this episode is very strong. We don’t know much of Richie’s escapades as he’s been traveling the world with his motorcycle and rapier, but we see him pull up to a loan roadside gas station in Spain, looking harried. He hasn’t been there for five minutes before he senses another Immortal, draws his sword, and finds the gas station owner slain on the pavement. Another workers frantically calls the police, believing Richie to be the murderer, and Richie takes off on his bike, speeding north to Paris in desperation. He left Duncan in anger, shame, and disappointment last time, but now he has nowhere else to go. Duncan’s his only friend, only family.

The plot with the evil Immortal ends up being fairly simple and serviceable, nothing special. The scenes with the French police are pretty stupid, ignoring things like due process of law, the rights of the accused, etcetera, as they assume Richie’s guilt on circumstantial episode alone.

The strength of the episode, and what makes it feel so full and rich compared to many of the others, is how nicely it deals with the relationship between Duncan and Richie. Stan Kirsch’s acting has gotten much better. Richie’s not quite as likable as he was originally, being darker and more moody, but he’s got more nuances. It was good to see him relax around Duncan again. After the way he left in “Under Color of Authority” Richie doesn’t know if he’s welcome at Duncan’s barge. Duncan sighs and says yes, anytime Richie is in Paris he should stay with Duncan. They still are friends.

My favorite part—maybe in the whole series at this point—is the end, when they’re drinking the 400+ year-old cognac on the barge, sharing some serious words and some laughs. According to the producer’s commentary track, the cameraman kept rolling and managed to capture a totally spontaneous moment where, after the last (sort of silly) line of dialogue, Duncan and Richie look at each other and burst out laughing. It’s a perfect moment, full of warmth and genuine friendliness.

Episodes 2.21 and 2.22 “Counterfeit Parts I and II”
Written By: David Tynan and Brad Wright
Synopsis: “Duncan must deal with a woman who is a dead ringer for Tessa, but must wonder if she’s part of some scheme to kill him once and for all.”

While not a horrible story, this is still a pretty disappointing end to a season that was getting so strong. The joy of seeing actress Alexandra Vandernoot back is diminished by the fact that she’s playing an annoying, evil character who has had plastic surgery and manners training in order to fool Duncan into thinking she is Tessa’s doppelganger. This is all orchestrated by that blasted renegade Watcher, James Horton, a pathetic and cowardly villain who should have died many times but keeps coming back. It’d be one thing if he were revealed to be an Immortal who managed to keep himself from being sensed by Duncan, but no, he’s just a pitiful mortal who doesn’t die when he should only because the script says so. Fortunately, he’s dead for good this time. I hope!

The whole “fake Tessa” thing comes off as a gimmick, and not an especially tasteful or convincing one at that. The failures of logic are immense, the proceedings worthy of a bad soap opera, and in the end it reveals just how little the writers and producers understand how to deal with the impact of Tessa’s legacy. Adrian Paul nobly does his best to convey Duncan’s confusion and heartache, and when the scenes focus on him, the episode works. On the whole, though, I felt it was a pretty poor story. Duncan and Tessa both deserved better than this.

Episode synopses are from Wikipedia.
Screenshots are my own, taken either from Hulu or the DVDs. Except for the DVD case picture, which I found through a Google Image search.

TV Show Review: Doctor Who Episode 3.00 “The Runaway Bride”

TV Show Review: Doctor Who Episode 3.00 “The Runaway Bride”

Series: Doctor Who (TVTropes Recap)
Season.Episode: 3.00 “The Runaway Bride” (Christmas special between Series 2 and 3)
Original Air Date: Christmas Day 2006
Length: 45 minutes
Writer: Russell T. Davies
Lead Actors: David Tennant (The Tenth Doctor), Catherine Tate (Donna Noble), Sarah Parish (Empress of the Racnoss)
Synopsis: “A bride suddenly materialises in the Tardis. The Doctor must get her to the church on time, but the Empress of Racnoss, an alien spider, has other ideas… “ (from Wikipedia)
Reason for Watching: This category on the rubric is no longer relevant for Doctor Who.
Episode Re-watchability: I’ve already rewatched it once, and it was nearly as fun as the first time.
Final Verdict: A tremendously fun episode and a good move forward from the emotional weight of the Series 2 finale.

Key Thoughts

“The Runaway Bride” hearkens back to the previous Christmas episode, “The Christmas Invasion,” but fortunately avoids treading exactly the same ground. The robot Santa-musicians with their killer Christmas trees are back, but now they are being remotely controlled by a giant alien spider queen (The Empress of the Racnoss, played incredibly over-the-top by Sarah Parish) who is trying to awake her thousands (or more?) of “children” who  are hibernating at the center of the earth.

That last sentence was exceedingly fun to write.

The plot’s back story feels too bold and illogical to be the subject of only a single episode, and if you think too hard about it (or much at all), it begins to fall apart. For instance, why are these ancient Huon particles supposedly so rare if they can be extracted from the hydrogen in water? But nevermind; the story is immaterial here. This episode is really about preventing the Doctor from wallowing in his grief over Rose and forcing him to move forward with his extraordinary life.

She often needs the obvious pointed out to her.

And he really has to move, too. Mere seconds after the portal to Rose’s dimension closes, wedding-dress-clad Donna Noble is standing bewildered on the TARDIS and screeching at him to take her back RIGHT NOW. This character is really an amazing balancing act. On paper she should be the most annoying thing ever, and yet somehow Catherine Tate gives her just enough intelligence (beneath her ditzy, oblivious surface), just enough kindness (despite her temper tantrums), and a reasonable amount of unlikely bravery that—in addition to being funny—she is actually a likeable character.

And regarding the strange man who is the Doctor, Donna can be remarkably perceptive. The real thrust of the episode comes after the adventure is over. The Racnoss, despite their horrible threat, have been defeated pretty easily by the Doctor, yet the victory was rendered unpleasant by the anguished screams of the Empress and her drowning children, and also by the unemotional grimness with which the Doctor listened to their pain far longer than he needed to. So it is that, at the end, when the Doctor offers Donna the position of full Companion—as I knew he would—she turns him down, citing the crazy danger of his life and how uncomfortable she is with how he deals with it (or the lack thereof).

I doubt many people have ever turned down such an offer in the Doctor’s history! Yet I think it’s good for him to experience rejection every now and again. Not everyone can, or should, be like Rose, dropping their loved ones and responsibilities in an instant to run off with him. For all her silliness and problems, Donna is an older and more mature woman than Rose, and her life experience causes her to see something about the Doctor that Rose never quite did. The Doctor needs Companions. If for no other reason than to stop him when he begins to forget mercy and justice, and instead indulges his anger at his enemies. The Doctor is not a god; he is limited, flawed, troubled, and often enough wrong. Donna realizes that being a Companion is more than just being a helper on a series of wild adventures—it means being the Doctor’s moral leash. At this time, that is too much a responsibility for her, she says, but the Doctor needs to seek out those who can do it. It is this piece of information we must keep in mind when examining Martha Jones’ role in the rest of Series 3.

As an ending note, this episode is not very Christmassy. It looks as if it was filmed in the summer (and it probably was) and has even fewer Christmas trappings than “The Christmas Invasion.” Not much of a holiday theme, either. I don’t think Russell T. Davies likes Christmas very much, the way he treats it.

The Doctor: You’ve seen it out there. It’s beautiful.
Donna: And it’s terrible. That place was flooding and burning and they were dying and you stood there like… I don’t know, a stranger. And then you made it snow. I mean, you scare me to death!

And we get to see the TARDIS actually fly! As in move through space instead of time! It's a pretty fun chase scene.
Don't we have big telescopes and satellites that would see this massive spider-web-comet-space-station-thing flying towards us?

Screencaps from…

TV Show Review: Fox’s Peter Pan and the Pirates

Not too crazy about the look of the title screen, but it does have a certain colorful flair.

Series: Fox’s Peter Pan and the Pirates
Season.Episode: 1.1 “Coldest Cut of All”
Original Air Date: 8 September 1990
Length: about 30 minutes
Writers: Karen Willson, Chris Weber
Voice Actors: Peter = Jason Marsden; Wendy Darling = Christina Lange; Tinkerbell = Debi Derryberry (yes that’s her real name); Captain Hook = Tim Curry!
Spoiler-free Synopsis: Peter steals a magical stone from the Ice-King, who declares war on him and the Lost Boys in order to get it back.
Reason for Watching: Mentioned by the Nostalgia Critic as an underrated gem of a kids’ animated show. Plus, the concept of the further adventures of Peter Pan is a great one! Continue reading “TV Show Review: Fox’s Peter Pan and the Pirates”