Watching: The Matt Smith Years of Doctor Who

Matt Smith was our worst con experience ever.  We paid $99, and he didn’t even say hello or look at us.  He didn’t even acknowledge we were there.  Sure getting his autograph was nice, but part of what you pay for is the 20-second exchange with an artist. And this was before we even watched an episode of his. We wanted to hate his seasons.

But we couldn’t.

I mean how could we.  His first season is as perfect of a television season as possible. His companions, Amy and Rory, are both two of the best ever. Steven Moffet hits many of his highest notes as showrunner during this time.

Yet, standing above it all is the brilliance of Matt Smith. Let’s face it, the cards were against him following David Tennant. Mr. Smith could have been brilliant playing a version of that character.  Yet, the decision to let go a lot of the anger of his character was an important one. His Doctor learned a lot of hard lessons from the Tenth Doctor. Yet, even though he was a quirky Doctor, he still made sure people knew he was not a man to be trifled with. Surprising, when we rewatched his episodes, we noticed that there was a darkness to his Doctor that was always lurking beneath the surface.  His quirkiness was often a way for the Doctor to deal with the darkness.

Watching that first go around, we would often state how we loved that episode but still didn’t like Mr. Smith.  Then we watched The Crown and saw how much range he truly has. He isn’t particularly likable as the Duke of Edinburgh, but he is utterly captivating.   We have been rewatching Doctor Who, and we flew through his season. While the ninth is Cristina’s Doctor and Tenth is mine, he will always be one of our favorites. He still made us laugh and cry.

If we do get to meet him again at a con, we will.  Of course, we will tell him about our first experience, but how his work, and the quality of it, couldn’t keep us mad.

 

Watching: Arrowverse Recap Week 11 & 12

I decided to differentiate my titles by going off the sequence of The Arrow since it is the Arrowverse.  Since this is show 11 and 12 for that show, this is week 11 & 12. Of course, spoilers ahead so I’ll just put the jump here.  And we haven’t been able to watch Supergirl season 1, so we will not include that show in our recaps.

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The Nola Nerd Couple Podcast Episode 04: Doctor Strange and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

The Nola Nerd Couple podcast is back!  We actually found time to go to the movies so we discuss the last two films we saw: Doctor Strange and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.  We also do a preview of Wizard World New Orleans. We also argue over what is a spoiler!

Star Wars-ing: The Second Season of The Clone Wars

I was struck by how fantastic the first season of Clone Wars was.  I hated the movie that introduced the series finding it childish.  The series has proved to be deeper than most Star Wars vehicles and, in fact, more than most television shows in general.

The Halocron Heist Arc (S2E1-3)

Darth Sidious hires Cad Bane!  These are good episodes that help explain why Bane is such a fan favorite.  In fact, I’ve been putting loose change in to our Cad Bane bank for years because he was a favorite of Mrs. Nola Nerd Couple’s. However, it also shows a true evilness to Sidious instead of being the mostly shadow figure he is in the prequels.

Senate Spy (S2E4)

One of my favorite episodes of the series because it’s a strong Padame episode. Padame is a character that was wasted in the prequels (see Honest Trailers) but here she is a strong independent character in her own right. It also allows for her to have a past while the movies just focus her on protecting then pining for Anakin.

Genosis Arc (S2E5-8)

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Ahsoko and Barris in the Genosis Arc. Photo courtesy of Wookieepedia

Another arc that could have probably been release as a movie. This story highlights  Ahsoko Tano and Barris Offee as two different but capable padawans. Both have different approaches but both make their masters proud.  This arc does tie into the Darth Vader set of comics that have been released since Disney bought Star Wars. Great action set pieces are everywhere in this arc but it’s the quiet scenes that are fantastic.  The padawans are forced to make some very tough decisions. Ahsoko, in particular, here can be seen maturing throughout the arc.

Greivous Intrigue (S2E9)

I honestly don’t remember anything about this episode.  Probably, because I don’t find Grievous all that interesting.

The Deserter (S2E10)

Cut Lawquane, the deserter. Photo courtesy of Wookieepedia

Cut Lawquane, the deserter. Photo courtesy of Wookieepedia

My favorite episode so far. A clone has decided to desert and have his own life. He is his own person.  Captain Rex has issues with this because in his eyes all clones are brothers with the same purpose in life, but then finally understands by the end.  This episode is basically a monster trying to get into the house trope, but it is executed well. In fact, it is the only episode to make me jump. It is also the only episode so far that makes the Droid soldiers terrifying. But at the heart of this story is two clones and the voice acting of Mr. Baker is out of this world good.

Lightsaber Lost(S2E11)

This should be a bad episode.  The episode uses the silly old man but truly wise teacher trope. The ancient Jedi Master Tera Sinube is almost too cute to be taken seriously.  However, instead of being put off by his slow tortoise gimmick, I found him charming.  So does Ashoka as she learns her after-school special lesson about being a Jedi from Master Sinube.  Again, this episode should be awful, but it’s fantastic.

2nd Season Mandalore Arc(S2E12-14)

Santine, 2nd from left, and Obi Wan face a threat from the separatists. Photo courtesy of Wookieepedia

Santine, 2nd from left, and Obi Wan face a threat from the separatists. Photo courtesy of Wookieepedia

We are finally introduced to the wonderfully named Santine (reference to Moulin Rouge!).  Lots of intrigue and showing that this is a much deeper conflict than Sidious against the Jedi.  In fact, there is a moment in the first episode of this arc that is so brutal it’s one of the best moments in all of the Star Wars canon. A member of a group the Death Watch is wounded.  His commander looks at him, states “Failure,” and then proceeds to kill him with a single shot. The bad guys in Star Wars are often not very bad due to appealing to children but this moment decided to go there. We not only see a bad guy hit something with a shot, we see him kill in cold blood.  And it was an ally at that.  We also get to see Obi-Wan be more developed for know we know that he has a past. And in that past, he was in love with Santine. It provides a counterpoint to Anakin and Padame’s relationship. Santine and Obi’s stories are too important for this to be a one off arc.

Senate Murders (S2E15)

A classic whodunit trope. Good but not great.

Cat and Mouse (S2E16)

Good episode that does a good job of dealing with just war strategy.  Strongly echoes the Hunt for Red October, which is a compliment. In fact, it’s high praise.

Bounty Hunters (S2E17)

Obi-Wan and Anakin train some farmers to help protect their crops.  Even though it is a Hondo episode, it’s as exciting as it sounds.

The Zillo Beast Arc (E18-19)

 

During a battle, a beast is unleashed that has impentrable armour.  In fact, only one thing that can kill it is a gas from it’s planet.  In a King Kong trope, we have some decent action scenes.  However, the monster is focused on killing Palpatine. Is this character the only sentient being that can recognize him for what he is?  Which leads to the obvious question, how can no one recognize him? Does he just give off so much negative energy that others can’t sense his presence?  Either way, these episode works and works well.  At the end, I had to take a break from watching the series because I was so upset.  The end sequence is chilling when Palpatine declares he wants to clone the beast that so desperately wanted to kill him.

The 2nd Season Boba Fett Arc (S2E20-22)

Again, I’m not a fan of Boba Fett.  That doesn’t mean that I’m anti-Fett, it’s just that I don’t have enough information to be a fan of his. He doesn’t do much in the trilogy, not enough for me to be Team Fett.   This does provide a little back story, but it is one of a child still grieving from his the death of his father.  This arc reminds us that R2D2 is the baddest droid in the galaxy and might be the most heroic character in all of Star Wars.

Random Notes:

  • My favorite episodes tend to be centered around the clones.  The fact that the clones are getting weaker because of Jango’s death is fascinating.
  • The Deserter episode plays to the strengths of The Clone Wars.  The better the quieter moments are the better the action is.
  • Ashley Eckstein and Catherine Tabor do excellent voice work this season.

Star Wars-ing: The Clone Wars Season 1 Episodes 17-22

 

The Blue Shadow Virus (s1 E17-18):

Blue_Shadow_Virus

Image from Wookieepedia

An amazingly complex idea is rendered into what I consider the first “for children” episode of the series .  The subject matter is biological warfare and that brings up a slew of questions that could elevate this The Clone Wars episode into something special and extraordinary for animated series. However, the evil scientist Dr. Nuvo Vindi, while written well, is rendered into a stereotype by  some over voice acting by Michael York. Still, the fact that series even addresses this topic noteworthy.

The Ryloth Arc (S1 E19-21):

Epguide020

Image from Wookieepedia

This is a quality war arc that could easily have been an offshoot movie that Disney seems to be focused on doing these days (that’s not a complaint!).   Because it has the time and freedom to do so, it ventures into territories that the movies rarely do: how the wars affect children and families and the politics of individual planets.  This is hard for movies to do because they have to paint in broad strokes, but this show is given the breadth to do so.  This is one of the arcs that remind you there are reasons for the fighting besides showcasing great actions scenes (which it does at well).

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Image from Wookieepedia

Hostage Crisis (S1 E22)

Epguide022

Image from Wookieepedia

We are introduced to Cad Bane, my personal favorite bounty hunter in the entire saga. (I’ve never understood the Fett fascination). Not much in new territory, but it does help develop Anakin and Padame’s relationship more.  The animated versions have way more chemistry than the actors in the prequels do.

Random Thoughts:

  • I love Tom Kane’s Narrator. It’s a underrated aspect of the show giving us a WWII newsreel feel before plunging us into the action.  It’s an audio-visual counterpoint to the yellow word screen crawl and is perfect for the TV show.
  • I could live without the “fortune cookie” saying before every episode, though.
  • Dee Bradley Baker is a genius.  He voices all the troopers and yes they all sound alike.  However, he is talented enough to make each have a distinct personality.
  • If Matt Lanter can act as well as he can voice act, then expect great things from in the future.
  • Phil Lamarr is Marvin from Pulp Fiction!
  • Dave Filoni is brilliant.