Three days.

Three days. That’s how many are left in 2010.

That is so wild, right? The end of the science fiction year that wasn’t too science fiction-y, sadly. Or maybe it was and I just wasn’t paying nearly enough attention. Or maybe I’ve just gotten so accustomed to the very pedestrian and incredibly mundane and boringly sexy science fiction-y aspects of my normal life?

from here.

I’m sure it’s something like that. Absolutely. Definitely. Whatever.

Also, this:

from here.

In this year, in this world of internetting and bloggery and social media, I had five very simple goals that I laid out at the start of 2010 and wanted to complete by year’s end. In order of my own personal interest and their importance, they were:

1. Not going to tell you (you’re not ready for this one yet, folks)(and neither am I).

2. Not going to tell you (forthcoming).

3. Not going to tell you (total abysmal failure).

4. Not going to tell you (worked, but was embarrassing and not worth mentioning again).

5. Getting 2,010 tweets in 2010!

The fifth one is the one that I’m going to definitely accomplish. Unless I lose both hands sometime in the next three days. Or lose my phone or computer or both. Or unless an EMP just wipes out all technology in the country/world.

But, well, I just don’t twitter much. And getting 2,010 tweets in 2010 was a silly, frivolous goal that I jokingly threw out on my twitter sometime back in… I don’t know what month, but sometimes those things you only jokingly declare are the ones that stick with you. It was somewhere around the start of the year, I believe, and I think I had less than a thousand tweets then and was probably tweeting an average of four to five tweets a month, roughly.

And eventually I just thought, yeah, I can do this shit, why not? Because it’s stupid? Stupidity has not stopped me from doing anything ever in my life.

Also, this is the 825th post on your friend neighborhood Counterforce. That’s wild. We didn’t make it to 1000 posts this year, but that’s perhaps for the best.¬† Personally, I’m just shocked that I managed to ramble on for nearly 2,010 tweets. I mean, what a silly declaration. Thinking back upon it, at first I was like this:

And then I was like this:

You understand.

Oh man, how creepy is this photo below?

Right?

Also, New Year’s Eve is almost upon us. Time to celebrate!

Also, this is fog porn:

from here.

And this is the first x-ray picture of a lightning strike:

from here.

Speaking of “science fiction,” the recent Doctor Who Christmas special was fucking wonderful.

So fun and smart and a nice little twist on Dickens’ A Christmas Carol cause, hey, why can’t the ghosts of Christmas’ past, present, and future be time travelers and holograms?

Michael Gambon was brilliant, but ruthlessly mean and joyously funny in places. And while the show did play around with some of it’s own rules towards time travel (and that’s why we have rules about time travel, folks: so they can be broken!), I found the idea of one watching their own past and memories change before their very eyes to be fascinating. Plus, the interesting but slight references to “the silence.” And I had to love the nice little nods to the recent JJ Abrams Star Trek movie with the copious lens flares on display of the crashing starship’s bridge.

Honestly, it was just nice to have Doctor Who back. The trailer for the upcoming season at the end of the special was a nice little tease as far as potential goes. Can it be April already?

Also, I’m worried that this (below) is what women must think of me whenever they see me…

from here.

Sigh. And I’m just trying to be normal and cool and down to earth and approachable. We can’t all be perfect, can we?

from here.

Oh well. Remember this always:

from here.

This is a picture from Tron Legacy

…which I hear was pretty terrible, but that Olivia Wilde was the best part of. Is it me, or is Olivia Wilde totally the new Angelina Jolie?

I mean that based on a lot of things, like her acting ability, her potential, the type of roles she’s taken in the past, but also based on her seemingly having that same ability that Angelina Jolie has to turn straight girls a little curious.

You know?

This is an abandoned theater in Detroit:

from here.

This is a monolith:

This is some good solid crazy fun rough housing:

And this is some old school adorable chillaxing right here:

The last six months or so on this blog and in my life have been… weird, to say the least. I’d go into more details here, but quite frankly, I don’t want to. I’ll just say that due to illness in my family, my life got a bit… derailed and I’m astonished that I’m seeing the end of this year without having gone totally insane. Or maybe I have already gone totally, stupendously insane and it’s just helping me see the end of this year more clearly? Like 3D glasses? That’s a comforting thought, right?

Anyway, at some point this will all be over and I’ll get back to some kind of semblance of “normal,” whatever that is. Are we still doing that? “Normal?”

Hopefully, if we’re lucky, we’ll be right back to asking “Who’s your daddy?” in no time flat.

This is what religion looks like:

from here.

And this is my basic worldview in a nutshell:

This is an example of the happy medium between sanity and fear:

This is an example of how Batman is both a master of surprise and also quite probably a huge pervert:

And sadly, no matter what we say or do, Lost is still over and done with:

Oh well. Three days to go. And then…

Fingers crossed about something exciting happening in those next three days (after all, a good deal of people on this planet thought that their magic wizard man came back from the dead in that same amount of time) but not holding my breath. Exciting, but not too exciting. Wow me, thrill me, blow my mind, fuck me over and fuck me up (but in a good way, please), but remember that when the sun comes up, I’ve still got bills to pay and TV shows to catch up with. Three days to go, promises to keep and miles to go before we sleep, and a long journey sprawling ahead of us through mountains upon mountains. This is both the place we made together and the journey we started together and I’m gonna be there with you. And wherever we end up, whatever new definition of home or normal we excavate, when we do we’ll turn to each other and say, “This must be the place!”

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.

So, a very, very, very long time ago, there was this massive explosion. It’s just a cosmological theory, but it’s also been accepted as fact. Our universe was so incredibly hot and dense for a finite time, and it just exploded and expanded and it was bigger than anything ever, because it is everything and it’s always expanding and cooling…

…and it happened. How do we know? Because you’re sitting there, right there, right now, in your comfy chair, or on your couch, or perhaps laying in bed, or wherever or however you read your friendly neighborhood Counterforce. Well, or so we think. It sounds nice. Exploding into being, from essence to existence by way of KA-BOOM! That sounds good, right? But this thing, which we can call “Event One,” it happened, and because of it, the universe as we know it was created.

And then something happened. A serious of events that lead to the total and utter collapse of the universe and all reality. Well, they didn’t just collapse, but they began a severe process of collapsing. But the universe is big and vast and this took a little bit of time. How long? Well, roughly 2,000 years in theoretical time, but in subjective time, about 45 minutes or so.

And all of that happened, and then happened again in tonight’s season finale of Doctor Who’s fifth series, “The Big Bang.” Following last week’s ridiculously intense episode, the universe collapsed, or rather, began the process of collapsing until there was a second big bang, and everything was re-created again.

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Ordinary people going nowhere.

Last week it was all about fighting invisible chicken monsters from outer space and getting inside the lonely, tragic head of a challenged painter who didn’t realize how important he would be in the eyes of all those who looked upon his works…

…and this week on Doctor Who it’s about the lives of ordinary people, in a pretty simple lo fi episode as we gear up for next week’s two part season finale…

And that’s this weeks’ episode, “The Lodger,” written by Gareth Roberts and featuring James Corden, whom I don’t think many outside of England will know, and I don’t know much about him either, except that he was going to be in this episode and, of course, was recently a dick to Patrick Stewart:

A lot of times after viewing an episode and before I write one of these things, I’ll do a quick scan online to see where my feelings fit in with the rest of the online, er, “community,” and usually, it’s a match. Well, for the most part. This week, I have to say, I was quite shocked to find that most of the viewers loved this episode, and perhaps more than loved it. In the typical fashion of any television show reaching the conclusion of it’s season, there’s the slow down before the great big ramp up and exit, and many online compared to this to “Love And Monsters” and “Fear Her,” and how much better tonight’s episode was compared to those, though I didn’t dislike those episodes or look upon them negatively at all. At least not “Love And Monsters.” Though none of them will compared to “Utopia,” of course.

And don’t get me wrong, I certainly didn’t hate “The Lodger,” not at all. It was quite fine, actually, but I’m starting to notice perhaps the tiniest thread of disconnect between myself and other Doctor Who fans out there. Many, it seems, are quite eager to proclaim this new season the best yet (since the revival started, I imagine, and probably before as well), and I don’t know that I would go that far just yet.

That said, I really did like this episode, maybe not as much as others, but it was very good. The Eleventh Doctor, left behind by a manufacturing TARDIS, and having to spend a few days pretending to be a normal human as he figures out and tries to stop whatever it is that’s interfering with his time machine. Brilliant set up. I tend to like all forms of (good) sci fi, but especially that which pulls it out of space and tentacle rape and girls with three tits and brings it down to Earth in a normal setting, showing humans dealing with the fantastic. And this episode did that, even though it appeared to be more of a showcase for just how weird Matt Smith’s incarnation of the Doctor is.

That and, in case¬† you didn’t know, that Matt Smith was just this close to becoming a professional footballer (that’s soccer for those of us stateside), until an injury derailed that and set him down the path towards acting.

Even more interesting to me is that the initial story to this episode started off as a comic strip in the Doctor Who magazine, and I always love that this show will mine other sources for it’s stories and adapt them. For example, Moffat’s own “Blink” was initially a short story starring a much younger version of Sally Sparrow, and the lovely two parter “The Family Of Blood” and “Human Nature” were based on a previous Doctor Who novel. Those two episodes, in particular, make you wonder why the Doctor would choose to go by “The Doctor” in this episode rather than his go to nom de plume of “John Smith.”

From what I can surmise though, the initial comic strip featured a then new Tenth Doctor getting separated from Rose and the TARDIS and having to move in with Mickey Smith for a week. Interesting enough, the angle of the comic strip was apparently how normal and more human-like David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor was than his predecessor and how much of an irritant that was to Mickey Smith, how that split him from Rose even more. And I think that’s a more than valid point, especially since Tennant’s Doctor was so likable, and in such a human way, and was more prone to walk into any situation and master it within moments and get everyone on his side.

from here.

And I think it’s interesting how they flipped that with Smith’s Eleventh Doctor, almost making him the exact opposite of his predecessor, all bow ties and weird hair and an alien understanding of the normality of the humanity he seems so obsessed with. Whereas Tennant’s Doctor read the last Harry Potter book and cried or loves chips (french fries), Smith’s Doctor can’t tell how time progresses for normal humans or how to properly greet someone in a particular era. He has blithe, slightly telepathic conversations with cats and, thanks to slightly rushed feeling writing, head butts people in a rather slapstick fashion to pass along quick psychic infodumps.

from here.

And for a quirky, amusing story, I should add that the humor wasn’t unwelcome, but as I believe I said last week, I’m eagerly awaiting next week’s return of Moffat and the deadly seriousness he can bring. In my wildest dreams, Moffat would write like ten out of a given series’ 13 episodes. I know, I know, that’s insane. But just imagine it.

That said, again, liked the episode, but thought parts of it were a bit rushed feeling. The silhouetted villains at the top of the stairs and the flickering lights were brilliant, but let’s face it, kids are fucking terrifying. At least to me. I thought the notion of an alien ship trying to built itself a TARDIS left me more curious and intrigued than the episode probably meant to do and I liked the cameo of Van Gogh again (on the fridge)(and rumor has it that another Van Gogh appearance is slated for next week).

And despite all his quirks and brain being in a million different places other than right here and now, the Doctor seems a bit lazy and pedestrian (again, perhaps that’s merely the writing) in tackling the unseen menace upstairs. And in that infodump of the Doctor’s history, we get yet another roll call of previous Doctors. Makes you wonder if the show is still struggling to cement Matt Smith’s place in the history of these other incarnations or if it’s going somewhere next week, with the Doctor perhaps finding himself erased from history…

And if the episode had one major flaw, it’s something the last few episodes have shared: Not enough Amy Pond. She started off so strong this season and then was a bit wasted. But now’s found the engagement ring hidden there in the Doctor’s coat and perhaps she’s remembered Rory? Or perhaps it’s something else all together, but either way, part of me is glad this season is ending now. It’s been a fun ride and especially after tonight’s brief landing with a group of ordinary people who are fine going nowhere in their lives, I’m happy to follow the Doctor and Amy Pond and River Song as they zoom off into time and space and adventure…

Next time: Time and space and adventure! River Song returns and accompanies the Doctor and Amy to Stonehenge. The return of a whole slew of nasty monsters and villains. Rory the Roman! And perhaps, at last, the Pandorica opens…

“You have no idea how dangerous you make people to themselves when you’re around.”

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Paradoxes will follow a cute redhead anywhere, anywhen.

No turning back, no way out, and nowhere else to go…

And that’s where we were left with last week’s episode of Doctor Who as the Doctor, Amy, River Song, and Father Octavian and his clerics were surrounded by the advancing Weeping Angels. The cliffhanger was deadly and our characters were down so low that they had only one way left to go… Up.

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“Nobody human has anything to say to me today!”

Like I said before, last week’s episode of Doctor Who felt like it came after waiting an eternity. This week’s episode, “The Beast Below,” certainly didn’t feel like it it took that long to get here, but after how great “The Eleventh Hour” was, the excitement level for “The Beast Below” was just as high.

This week, the Doctor is finally firmly regenerated and takes his new companion, Amy Pond, on her first real journey in the TARDIS. So much of it feels like a classic Russell T. Davies set up, with the second episode in the new series doing a paint by numbers journey to a slightly dystopian human society somewhere out there ins pace in the future and showing the companion exactly what the Doctor’s philosophy of time travel is. This time, the Eleventh Doctor tells Amy that it’s a strictly non-interference policy, unless, that is, a little girl is crying somewhere.

But then again, this is not the RTD era anymore. This is the new age, the age of Steven Moffat, mixing both the cool, the new, and the classic, and Moffat’s going to put his truly creepy, brilliant spin on all the old RTD tropes and formulas (that did work, for the most part). The Doctor can be lost in the wild regions of deep outer space and be exploring the creepy, cave-like bowels of a spaceship. And you get classic Moffat stuff here: Recurring creepy phrases, sad little girls, and terrifying monsters. This episode was certainly a quick one, bit of a throw away episode, though charming, and one for the kids, though the children in the audience are going to spend probably this entire series behind their sofa.

There was a lot going on in this episode as well: Starship UK, sailing through the stars during a point in the future after the Earth has burned and the individual nations have gone to the cosmos in search of a new home. And also Sophie Okonedo as Liz Ten, the future English monarch, Elizabeth X. Also, the eponymous beast at the heart of the great ship, and the Winders and the Smilers, and the voting booth: Once every British citizen on the ship comes of age, the terribly dark truth of what’s going on is revealed to them and they’re given two simple choices, “Protest,” or “Forget.” Pretty much everyone chooses “Forget,” and that allows them to go on with their lives guilt-free. Those who click on “Protest” are promptly fed to a monster. The modern parallels are terrifying.

from here.

I’m trying to stay light on spoilers here and not really recap the episode at all, because, well, we don’t actually like strict recaps here at Counterforce. Why read a recap of a television show when you can go watch the thing?

from here.

I liked how we got into the heart of the relationship between the Doctor and Amy a little more, and it’s almost like they’re already old friends. Matt Smith’s Doctor goes where Moffat wants him to (pickpocketing little girls, for starters), showing that he understands humanity even when he doesn’t, he’s human in the terrible ways that they can be, but his instincts are hardly human. The ending comes in a neat little bow as Amy notices that the Star Whale (that name is my only real gripe with this episode) is incredibly similar to the Doctor: old and kind and can’t help but respond when a little girl is crying.

And then there’s Karen Gillan as Amy Pond, who just can’t stop winning me over. I never disliked Rose, but I disliked the ways in which we were constantly told in the RTD era how great and wonderful Rose was. Not shown, but told. To me Amy Pond has already surpassed Rose, rather easily, I might add, but also carries the flare of all the right elements of companions like Martha Jones and Donna Noble. Donna Noble in particular, possibly, echoing her telling the Doctor, “Sometimes I think you need someone to tell you when to stop.”

I like that Karen Gillan’s companion can do everything that the previous companions can do, and more, and all while still wearing her nightie.

from here.

I liked how the end of this episode tied into next week’s and I wonder if that’ll be something they strive for more of this year. That, and it seems, constant references to Amy’s always needing to be making choices (one episode towards the end of this season is actually entitled “Amy’s Choice”). Also, while there was no mention of the Pandorica or how “Silence will fall,” that mysterious crack in the wall of her childhood room (and the Doctor’s TARDIS console at the end of last week?) has seemingly followed Amy Pond into time and space.

Next up: Back to World War II, Winston Churchill, and the Daleks/”Ironsides” fighting on behalf of the Alliesor are they?

Like a name in a fairy tale…

After having waited for what has felt like an eternity, here’s just a few thoughts on tonight’ s episode of Doctor Who, “The Eleventh Hour,” the first new episode of series 5, and the first to properly feature the new Doctor, the new companion, the new TARDIS and new sonic screwdriver and new titles and themes and new everything!

Actually, I don’t want to say a whole lot about this episode. Partly because I’m still in shock from it, of sorts, and part because I want to reserve thoughts for next week’s episode. But what I can tell you about tonight’s episode is that it’s good. Really good. A bit cheesy and silly in places, but also dark and epic in other places.

It literally starts moments after where we last saw the Doctor, having just regenerated from David Tennant/The Tenth Doctor into Matt Smith/The Eleventh Doctor, and now the TARDIS, which is wild and out of control and on fire is spiriting over London at ludicrous speed! And the Doctor is hanging out the side, clinging for dear life!

From there he eventually crashes in the back yard of a little Scottish girl in an English village, Amelia Pond, the girl who has a name like something out of a fairy tale. Boy, does she ever. The fearless little girl helps this strange man sort out his cravings (apples, yogurt, bacon, beans, and toast don’t work, but fish sticks dipped in custard do) and then he helps her investigate the only thing that does scare her: the mysterious ever growing crack in her bedroom’s wall.

From there, the Doctor heads into the TARDIS, needing to fly it five minutes into the future to sort out it’s damaged engines, but doesn’t return til 12 years later. Amy Pond’s all grown up and hot, but has suffered from years from the damage inflicted on her by her “imaginary friend,” the Doctor, and the potential adventures she never got to share with him. Oh, and now Amy’s a kissogram girl, which is both exactly what it sounds like, and also cutesy Brit talk for a stripper.

I’ll stop there, but the story proceeds in classic opening season style for Doctor Who: There’s an alien prisoner on the loose in the house, and a hidden room in Amy’s house. The Doctor’s TARDIS is broken, and soon so is his sonic screwdriver. He’s still going through the pangs of regeneration, still unaware even of what he looks like, and on top of it, he was 20 minutes to save the Earth from being incinerated.

The episode reminded me quite a bit of series 3’s “Smith And Jones” in that the story was good, but not great, but it was a proper romp of an adventure, and the interplay and introductions between the characters were fantastic. Amy goes off for adventures in time and space with the Doctor on the eve of her wedding to her male nurse boyfriend, and you can tell that that’s going to have dark consequences as the season progresses. Nice cameo by Patrick Moore, as well. The “arc words” seeded into this series will seemingly be “Silence will fall” and something called “the Pandorica.” How gloriously sci fi. I like how Moffat is firing on all his own cylinders, but also keeping the things from Russell T. Davies’ tenure that really worked.

…except for the new title/credits sequence. The visuals aren’t terrible, but what they’ve done to the theme song is fucking atrocious. The bombast is gone. The excitement and thrill of that music smashing to life has been replaced with… a casio demo for something not terribly interesting. Glad that they didn’t actually go with the old school giant image of Matt Smith’s head floating there in the vortex.

As for Matt Smith’s Doctor… Not bad, not terrible at all. He’s still growing on me, aided by the fact that I think that Matt Smith genuinely appears to be a weird and awkward person and the writing that supports him is still pretty amazing. The sequence in which we’re reintroduced to the character of the titular Time Lord himself only to have Smith literally burst through and take his place among his predecessors worked as beautifully as it should’ve. I’m sure I’ll have more to say as this series floats on.

from here.

But before I go… My crazy theory about the “new spin” on the Doctor/companion relationship this year: I believe we’re going to see the Doctor, for the first time ever, develop an unrequited crush on Amy Pond. I know I certainly would were I in his suspenders/braces and bow tie.

Next up: The future, the Smilers, and all aboard the Starship UK!