Thoughts on Doctor Who Series 7 Mid-Series Finale: The Angels Take Manhattan

by Amy Yen

Best. Companion send-off. Ever.

I read that on Twitter after I watched the mid-series finale of Doctor Who, “The Angels Take Manhattan,” the much anticipated (and dreaded) goodbye for Mr. and Mrs. Pond, & I can’t disagree. It wasn’t a perfect story, but it was a perfect ending for them. Even if the Doctor can’t see it right now.

I have to say, I’m so relieved Moffat did these characters justice. It’s been, let’s just say, not my favorite series, & the main reason is that, for a series that has been leading up to their inevitable departure, I’ve felt like the first four episodes were the least effective use of the Ponds yet. Not one of those stories even came close to featuring them as well as something like “The Girl Who Waited,” or “Amy’s Choice.” Luckily, when it came down to it, Moffat went back to the one thing that was always consistent about Amy & Rory: they will always, always choose each other.

The two choices that were made in this episode — Rory & Amy choosing to jump off the building in blind hope that the paradox would erase Rory’s fate of a life without Amy, and Amy choosing to let the Angel zap her back in time in blind hope that it would save her from a life without Rory — were consistent with every other choice we’ve seen them make. Amy choosing the frozen TARDIS timeline when she realized she would lose Rory in the Leadworth timeline. Rory choosing to stay by the Pandorica to guard Amy. Amy choosing to let her older self die so her younger self could grow old with Rory. In the end, when the Angel took Rory and Amy had to choose between trying to be with him or staying with the Doctor, it never was a choice at all.

The Doctor does not take it so well. It’s interesting, the Doctor hates endings & he’s desperately afraid of losing Amy. That’s why he dropped her & Rory off after “The God Complex.” He’s “saving” them, so says Amy. But he can’t give them up any more than they can give him up, so he keeps coming back (as if to keep making up for not showing up the first time). Here, he is selfish. He tells Amy he doesn’t know if the Angel will send her back to the same time as Rory, when he does full well that it does. That’s why Billy Shipton winds up in the same time as Ten & Martha. He begs Amy not to do this, not to leave him, asks her to “come along, Pond” when he knows it would mean she wouldn’t see Rory again. It’s all very human of him.

What the Doctor can’t see in his grief, in this moment, is this is really the best possible outcome for Amy & Rory. Maybe they didn’t quite go out on their own terms, but they went out together & they lived. And considering how often each of them has died (especially Rory, who, hilariously, died again this episode…one more for the road, yes?), this is a borderline miraculous ending.

More random thoughts on ‘The Angels Take Manhattan”:

  • “To save you, I could do anything.” Don’t doubt it. He’s got two thousand years to back it up. Rory Williams truly is among the most romantic figures in recent pop culture. And to Amy, for Amy, he’s every bit the hero the Doctor is.
  • It’s fitting this episode read like a book, considering Amy Pond’s story has always had a little bit of fairy tale to it.
  • The Weeping Angels really hold up. They’re still every bit as terrifying as they were in “Blink,” & I like that we see them in their original flavor here. I always thought the zapping-people-back-in-time thing was way more interesting than what they did in “Time of Angels.”
  • So. The Statue of Liberty is a Weeping Angel huh? Of course she is.
  • Look, I really liked this episode, so I’m going to choose to ignore a bunch of plot holes here, like why the hell the Doctor wouldn’t take the TARDIS to go to the hotel instead of stealing a car, or where the hell the Angel went after it zapped Amy at the end, since neither the Doctor or River were looking at it, or since when could the Doctor just heal injuries with regeneration energy?
  • “Just you wait when my husband gets home.” While I don’t know that River was really essential to this story, it’s appropriate she’s here, since it is her parents & all. Plus, it made for a whole lot of awesome flirting between her & the Doctor. Especially loved the Doctor checking his breath & straightening his bow tie before seeing her. Aw.
  • Speaking of River, it’s nice that she was pardoned for that murder she didn’t actually commit (which I’m still kind of appalled by, so hopefully this is the last we’ll hear of it). Yet another convenient side effect of the continuing Doctor-erased-from-everything sub-plot. And there’s that pesky Question again. Hidden in plain sight.
  • I thought for a while, when Amy & Rory were on the ledge about to jump, the Doctor would end up saving them in the TARDIS, like he’s done with River a few times. But I like that the Doctor was so powerless in this episode, that he couldn’t save them & they had to save themselves. This story isn’t about the Doctor.
  • So lovely to see little Amelia Pond again. A lovely touch to end where it began. Amelia, unlike Amy, will never grow old.
  • I’m so not a fan of these split seasons. These series are not long enough to split…there’s barely any momentum & it’s over again. Now we have to wait all the way until Christmas to meet Oswin or Clara or whoever she is.
  • I can’t go without saying, Matt Smith & Arthur Darvill & especially Karen Gillan were all terrific this episode. “Raggedy man, goodbye.” Argh! Just heartbreaking.
  • Did you notice the newspaper Amy is reading in the park at the beginning of the episode? The headline reads “Detroit Lions Win Super Bowl.” And if that wasn’t an indication they were in some bizarre, Fringe-like alternate timeline, I don’t know what is.

It’s Time! (Again!)

Texas Rangers: 2011 American League Champions

Guys. I’m not just saying this. I feel really good about this team this year. Like, better than last year. Last year was just so emotional, because it was our first ALCS & it was the Yankees & maybe they were just happy to be in the World Series. This year, everyone’s more experienced & we made some really good additions & the bullpen is just lights out & Nelson Cruz cannot be stopped. Yeah. I feel really good. Let’s do this.

We’re going (back) to the World Series, y’all!

Top 5 “New Who” Doctor Who Episodes

by Amy Yen

In anticipation to the series 6 finale of Doctor Who this Saturday, I thought I’d do a post on my top 5 episodes since the show came back in 2005. Like a lot of people, I never saw Classic Who & honestly, as much as I like the show, I don’t really think I’ll ever feel the need to go back & watch those old episodes, with the low production values & cardstock companions who only function as damsels-in-distress. But since Russell T. Davies brought the series back, the characters have been admirably fleshed out & the season arcs have always been interesting, if not always successfully executed.

I should specify that this is my personal favorite top 5 episodes, not necessarily the 5 very best episodes, although my choices are all pretty popular episodes. I also changed my mind on a few of them, just to not always pick the Steven Moffat timey-wimey choice, although I am obviously a huge sucker for those stories. Here are my picks:

Honorable Mentions: Human Nature/The Family of Blood, The Big Bang, The Girl in the Fireplace

5) The Girl Who Waited
Interesting, it’s one of two “Doctor-light” episodes in my choices. Not that I don’t love The Doctor, but this episode in particular is the best Rory & Amy story thus far & one of the best companion stories period of the new series. It’s a terrific standalone adventure, but it is also explores one of series 6’s most interesting aspects, the idea of a married couple in the TARDIS. What’s most wonderful about is, there are plenty of examples of how much Rory loves Amy, but this is one of the few stories that really shows how much Amy loves Rory. Rory is what separates Amy from Rose, why she’ll eventually be able to walk away from the Doctor for good.

4) The Doctor Dances
The second half of Moffat’s first two-parter that introduced one of his most famous creations, John Barrowman’s dashing, tragic Captain Jack Harkness, this episode features one of the Doctor’s greatest goosebump-raising, cheer-inducing speeches. “Everybody lives!” To me, it remains the high point of Christopher Eccleston’s short run as the Ninth Doctor.

3) The Eleventh Hour
Matt Smith’s first full adventure as the Eleventh Doctor was full of joy & wonder & magic, & to me, it got Doctor Who back to what it is when it’s at its best, in stark contrast to the cloudiness around it for Ten’s last few stories. And while Eleven’s run certainly has its ultra-dark moments, Matt Smith is such an energetic, compelling presence, the Doctor seems a little less weighed down by his past. “The Eleventh Hour” also introduces Amy Pond in one of the most creative & tragic companion backstories ever. What I remember most about it is its fantastical fairy tale imagery: Amelia Pond in her red jacket, the Doctor landing in her garden & the TARDIS in its bluest blue, ever.

2) The Doctor’s Wife
Neil Gaiman does Doctor Who, I mean, what can you say? What an amazing episode. I will admit, when I first saw “The Doctor’s Wife” in the episode titles, I was momentarily fooled into thinking this might be a River Song story, but the real story is so much better than that. The TARDIS personified is an inspired creation (“Did you wish really, really hard?”) & the best part of the episode might be that final scene, with the Doctor running around the console gleefully. “It’s always going to be you & her, isn’t it? Long after the rest of us have gone.”

1) Blink
I almost don’t want to put this as number 1 because it is both a Doctor-light & companion-light episode—Ten & Martha make the briefest of appearances—and my actual appreciation of the show has everything to do with the fundamental relationship between The Doctor & his companions. But “Blink” is a masterpiece, the original Moffat timey-wimey story. Because at the end of the day, it’s a show about time travel & nobody writes time travel like Moffat (I also think of “The Big Bang” as a great example of this, but “Blink” has the stronger narrative). “Blink” is also just a remarkable piece of storytelling, featuring possibly the scariest Who monsters ever, beautiful photography (those gorgeous, terrifying stone statues in the rain) & a one-off companion who feels as three-dimensional as anyone else in this universe. If it didn’t feature so little of the Doctor, I would call it the perfect Doctor Who story, if only for the brilliance of this scene:

So those are my picks, would love to hear yours in the comments. Doctor Who’s Series 6 finale, “The Wedding of River Song” airs on BBC America tomorrow, October 1 at 9pm ET.

Everything is amazing.

Dallas Mavericks: 2010-2011 NBA Champions

Xerox Personalized Direct Marketing Makes an Impact at PRINTEGR8

by Amy Yen

Just wanted to share this very cool piece of direct marketing I received at PRINTEGR8, a lunch seminar sponsored by Westamerica Graphics today on integrated marketing and print communications. Xerox, one of the exhibitors, gave out personalized calendars for everyone who pre-registered for the event. The calendars had each attendee’s name integrated into images on the pages for each month to create a unique takeaway for everyone who attended.

The piece backed up Market Development Manager of Graphic Communications Toni Schottenhammer‘s presentation, in which she presented case studies on using database marketing to increase the ROI of direct mail campaigns by personalizing the message to each recipient.

Check out Xerox’s personalized calendar (now hanging in my apartment 🙂 ):

A Branded Birthday

by Amy Yen

My birthday is this Sunday, something I’m trying hard not to think about as I get dragged with great reluctance toward late-twenties-dom. Happily, I have been getting some well wishes in the mail that I can actually get behind. Every year it seems, more and more brands jump on the loyalty program/club card train & thusly, I’ve been getting birthday gifts in the form of gift cards & special discounts from all my favorite brands for the last two weeks.

A free mascara kit here, $10 off a pair of shoes there, suddenly getting older doesn’t seem so bad. It’s actually been quite nice, getting a little gift from my favorite retailers & restaurants in the mail or my inbox every day. It really does kind of feel like an old friend dropping in with warm wishes, in the form of a free entree, on my special day. And it works…I mean, hey, I don’t need anything from Sephora, but as long as I’m there to pick up my free mascara, I might as well get myself some lip gloss, right? Look, nothing makes me feel more warm & fuzzy about your brand than giving me free stuff.

So what I guess I’m saying is, in this day of corporate Facebook pages & Twitter contests, direct marketing still counts for something. And just because I know I’m getting this lovely 40% off birthday certificate because you have my name in a database, doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the thought.

It’s Time!

Texas Rangers: 2010 American League Champions

by Amy Yen

I don’t think fanbases like the Yankees know what it’s like to be a fan of a franchise like the Rangers. The never-ending, soul-crushing disappointment, year after year. It grinds on you. It wears you down. It gets to the point where you never expect anything of your team.

And then they go & demolish the New York Yankees, of all teams. The Yankees, the curse of our pathetic blip of a franchise postseason history. The Yankees & their $206.7 million payroll (A-Rod & Jeter make more than the entire Rangers roster combined).

The Yankees, who the Rangers & their $55.1 million payroll, ownership drama, drug-scandal manager, starting pitcher who played in Japan last year & giddy, silly, wonderful claw & antlers team-wide inside joke flat out beat to clinch the American League pennant & advance to the World Series.

That is absurd. It’s AMAZING. “This group is here,” said Josh Hamilton, after accepting the ALCS MVP award, “because they don’t know how to fail.” Apparently.

EDIT: This is a fun comparison. Here’s a post I wrote about the Rangers way back in 2007, in maybe the most frustrating, hopeless time I could remember suffering through with this team. The great thing about reading that post now is how dramatically their philosophy has changed, finally. They aren’t throwing the dice on gritty veterans anymore, they’re going for it with young, energetic, naive kids with don’t know how to quit. They’re winning through pitching & manufacturing runs on the base paths & a wonderful, bubbly sense of team, that thing that makes them invent things like the claw & make the group decision to celebrate with ginger ale & not champagne on the field, out of respect to Josh Hamilton. If you want to know why, even with how good the Rangers have been all year long, folks like me were still skeptical they could do what they’re doing, I think that post I wrote just a few seasons ago sums it up.

But damn. I’m happy to be wrong.

We’re going to the World Series, y’all!! Believe!!