April 21, 2008By Joe Diliberto Posted: Apr 21, 2008
What a great weekend this was for fans of the fantasy genre...
DOCTOR WHO: In the 90-minute Christmas special "Voyage of the Damned," the Doctor's TARDIS collided with the Titanic — a space-faring alien tour bus designed to resemble "the most famous ship from Earth." But when the tour was sabotaged by the company's unscrupulous boss, the Doctor had lead the survivors to safety in what amounted to The Poseidon Adventure in Space. David Tennant turned in the most restrained performance of his tenure as the Doctor's 10th persona. He seemed thoroughly haunted by the death of the Master and Martha's walking out on him. Still, when waitress Astrid (guest star/pop star Kylie Minogue) confessed a desire to travel among the stars, it was like a light flicked on in the Doctor's eyes; he waxed poetic about breathing alien air under foreign suns. Minogue turned in a spirited performance that reminded me of the spunky companions of the series' halcyon days — especially the way she gritted her teeth and used the EM pulse against the Host and sacrificed herself to help the Doctor. In fact, she reminded me of another waitress the Doctor took under his wing, a lass by the name of Ace. I thought it was brilliant the way London was deserted on Christmas because the citizens vacated the town following the alien invasions of the previous two Christmases. But aside from fun touches like that (such as the Queen in a bathrobe with her hair in curlers), the story itself was actually remarkably action-oriented and bloodthirsty; the Doctor usually manages to save more innocents. Also the imagery of the Time Lord being lifted from the fiery bowels of the ship to the bridge high above by the angelic Host was a little heavy on the symbolism. The loss of Astrid genuinely bothered the Doctor. He tried to reassure her as he scattered her stardust to the winds: "You're not falling, Astrid; you're flying."
The Doctor is flying to Sci Fi this Friday at 9 p.m. to meet up with new/old traveling companion Donna Noble; she first met the Doctor in the 2006 Christmas special, but she will be sticking around for this season. (Look for a surprise connection to "Voyage" when a familiar face returns.)
BATTLESTAR GALACTICA: As a result of the Sixes boosting the Centurions to sentience, the Cylons are split by civil war. Similarly, the Tyrols' marriage was fraying because the chief wasn't spending time at home. His wife, Cally, feared he was having an affair because she caught him with Tory, but the pair were actually just struggling with their recently revealed status as Cylon "skin jobs." Another marriage was also in trouble: Aboard the scow Demetrius, Kara led a meandering search for the true path to Earth with her hubby Anders (as well as Mr. and Mrs. Agathon, Helo and Athena). In the midst of a marital spat, we learned Kara married Anders on New Caprica because it was "safe and easy." Then they engaged in a hot bout of hate sex, and it became obvious how compatible they are. But forget two peas in a pod…how about two Apollos in a government? It was fun to see Richard Hatch, the Apollo in the 1978 BATTLESTAR series, return as Tom Zerek, who is sponsoring/manipulating the political career of the current Apollo, played by Jamie Bamber.
In the Cylon fleet, after Cavil downloaded into a new body, he took a different tack with Six — he agreed to stop lobotimizing the Raiders and to revive the Threes (D'Anna). But all he was really doing was laying a trap. Cavil led the ships commanded by the alliance of Twos, Sixes and Eights away from the resurrection ship and then attacked them. If they are killed in isolation, the Leobens, Sharons and Sixes won't be reborn!
Speaking of new lives, Cally tracked her hubby to Weapons Locker 1701D (Surely it was more than a coincidence that the chamber's designation was the same as the Enterprise's registration number on STAR TREK!). There she learned that Galen was really a Cylon sleeper. The best sequence of the episode came when Galen returned home. Director Michael Nankin kept Galen in the background, his image a blur, his voice distorted and barely understandable. In this way, the audience felt what Cally was feeling: We barely recognized Galen. Why didn't Cally inform Adama (or somebody) about the skin jobs? This series is so unpredictable that I feared Cally might actually "space" herself and baby Nicky. Of course she didn't — so Tory did it for her. While it made for great drama, sadly, we won't see actress Nicki Clyne again. Unless she's the yet-unidentified Cylon Model 12….
TORCHWOOD: The second season finale was called "Exit Wounds" for a good reason: The exits of Owen and Tosh hurt. Bad. Owen was killed several episodes ago (shot by Dr. Aaron Copley, played by THE O.C.'s Alan Dale), but he refused to lie down until this one (or did he? More on my theories later!). While Owen's exit seemed a foregone conclusion, I did not see Tosh's death coming. What kind of a show kills two characters in a season finale? The episode also came up with a truly horrible way to torture the immortal Captain Jack: Buried alive for centuries of suffocation/resurrection. Jack just laid there and took it — okay, he didn't have much choice — as "penance" for letting brother Gray slip from his grasp. (Bonus points for the cameo by Torchwood agent Alice Guppy, also seen last episode). Torchwood was obviously very progressive, employing women and at least one black man in positions of power in 1901!
In retrospect, the stories of Tosh and Owen had pretty much wrapped up between last episode, "Fragments," which told how the pair came to join the Torchwood Institute, and this one. I began to feel uneasy when the final nagging continuity glitch — Tosh appeared in the DOCTOR WHO episode "Aliens of London" as Dr. Sato — was cleared up by explaining that Tosh was covering for a hungover Owen. No loose ends? Uh-oh. Owen's end was no clean send-off for a hero. He was angry and scared when he realized he was doomed. It was upsetting to watch, knowing that Own hated his previous stint on the Other Side. "I died once," he screamed. "I'm not doing it again!" He insisted that there was "nothing" after death — no afterlife, no heaven, no hell; just nothing. "I'm going to rage my way to oblivion," he railed. No, the nobility was saved for Tosh, who had to listen to the man she loved die over the comm link. She didn't tell him that she was slowly bleeding to death because she didn't want to burden him; she loved him that much. As they shared their final moments in regret that he didn't notice she'd fallen for him until it was too late, I admit I got a little choked up. A friend pointed out that Tosh and Owen's final scene was soap opera of the highest order, and I have to agree. It was all about emotion, devotion, love and self-sacrifice.
I had barely registered Owen's death when Jack followed the blood trail to Tosh. He swept her into his arms, but the dashing hero couldn't save the girl this time. She died staring into his eyes. Later, as Ianto literally closed the files on Harper and Sato, Tosh's videotaped final goodbye was triggered. In her message, she thanked Jack for bringing her to Torchwood, and confessed her love for Owen — whom she ironically assumed would be watching her final message. Very sad.
However…Is Owen really dead? That whiteout effect sure didn't look like superheated coolant washing into the control room. It looked like a rift opening to me. Is it possible Owen was spirited away before his body could be melted? It's possible. But for now, I prefer to mourn the late Dr. Harper. If Owen was rescued, I hope he doesn't emerge from the rift for many years, if at all. It was fitting that Tosh and Owen departed at the same time. Their portrayers, Naoko Mori and Burn Gorman, respectively, will be missed.
And don't miss another Night Shift...coming soon.