Saturday, November 30, 2013

Kotas Reviews The Day of the Doctor

Have you ever walked away from a very nice meal feeling very satisfied, and yet 2 hours later you are munching on some Triscuits because you feel like you are missing something? I mean, the salad was good, the appetizer was well made, the entree was delicious, and the dessert was superb and yet...there you are, 2 hours later gnawing on some sub-par cracker monstrosity trying to fill a void left in your stomach. Ladies and Gentleman, that's pretty much how I feel about Day of the Doctor. 

Before you continue reading this, I am TOTALLY gonna be spoiling the everloving SHIT out of the entirety of the current series, especially Day of the Doctor, so ye be warned. Skip to the last paragraph for the FACE Rating score and my final thoughts. Or, you know, catch up on the series to this point. Go on, I'll wait.

Okay, all caught up? Great. Let's get a few things out of the way first. I thought John Hurt played an excellent Doctor. Sure, we are probably gonna only see him for this one episode of the show ever, but hey, other Doctors have had as much and been very memorable in their own right anyway (I'm looking at you Paul McGann). I really enjoyed seeing Matt Smith and David Tennant play off of each other and John Hurt. I'm told that Christopher Eccleston declined to participate in this episode, which is a damn shame because I think Eccleston, Tennant, and Smith all on the set as the Doctor would have been freakin' amazing, but John Hurt really, really added his own spin to the legacy of the Doctor and bravo to him for that. The idea that one of the incarnations of the Doctor was "buried in memory" was a bit of a kludge when Eccleston passed, but really? I think it worked out spectacularly and made for a wonderful character arc.

There was a lot to like for a long time Whovian in this episode. The nods to previous episodes came fast and furious in just about every scene, such as the timey wimey comment and Tennant's deadpan "I have no idea where he gets that" was just amazing. The Tardis' many changing "desktop themes" ("Oh, the round things."  "I love the round things." "What are they?" No idea."). The side enemy was the freakin' ZYGONS of all things, which have been in exactly ONE previous episode ever in the Tom Baker era, and they managed to keep the cheesy costume look without making it look TOO lame, and made it even a little scary! The "bust out of the painting" scene with the 11th Doctor's trademark "bad ass" music rolling through as all three of the Doctors bust up a Dalek and stroll into the Black Archive...well, that was a really powerful moment. I also really liked the clever uses of time travel to solve various problems: Scratch the activation code into a wall so someone will get it in 500 years. Screwdriver scan and calculate over 400 years in 4 seconds. The EPIC use of all 13 Doctors to SAVE GALLIFREY by continuing the Stasis Box calculations over the 1000 years between 1st and 11th (12th now?) Doctors!

The "Find Gallifrey" quest for the next season brings a nice over-arc. Some of the best Doctor Who stories are over-arcs (Key of Time) as well as some of the less beloved ones (Trial of a Time Lord), but I've always enjoyed them. That final shot with all 12 Doctors was just lovely for the longtime fan. THEY SAVED GALLIFREY FROM THE TIME WAR BY USING ALL 13 INCARNATIONS OF THE DOCTOR AND THE TARDIS HOLY CRAP! Oh man! Tom Baker Cameo! HOLY CRAP!

And I am, about to tell you why I am left feeling like I am missing something. So...the Doctor DIDN'T murder his entire race along with their greatest enemy using the Superweapon known as the Moment? Soooooo...doesn't that essentially make the entirety of his motivations in the End of Time completely pointless or at worst, actively malicious? Here's the thing. The End of Time is probably my favorite story ever of the New Who. The scene where he takes Wilf's gun when he finds out the Time Lords are coming back is simply amazing, since the Doctor almost NEVER picks up a gun or gun like object. When he DOES, it means shit has gone completely off the rails and he is desperate in a way you generally do not see (see: Dalek and of course Earthshock). So for him to take the gun immediately following his big speech about how "guns aren't my bag, yo" tells you that shit is about to get frighteningly real. You see, the Doctor is afraid of the Time Lords coming back because they had grown horribly corrupt, evil, and nigh mad with power. This is proven Oh So Correct by Timothy Dalton's superb performance as Rassilon and his Ultimate Sanction, which got a nigh-unanimous vote in the High Council. And now...we get this idea that the Doctor(s) actually saved Gallifrey (Crazy High Council and all) and just forgot about doing it. Sure, there were a lot of innocents on Gallifrey, but the majority were supposed to have gone power mad. 

And then we have Day of the Doctor, which has a throwaway line about how "oh, the High Council has their own crazy plans that none of us were involved in and we feel really bad about all the forbidden superweapons we totes used. Darn it." The lead up to the point where I thought John Hurt's Doctor was totally gonna use the Moment was superb. The three of them together, helping the War Doctor through the hardest moment of his life (and a nice parallel to the Fires of Pompeii actually)...and then they pull something COMPLETELY OUT OF THEIR ASS to awkwardly yet awesomely save the freakin' day. Which, really, is the Doctor Who Way, but it makes the Doctor's actions in the End of Time especially pointless or even out and out cruel. Now, for an ass pull, it's actually very clever and I would expect nothing less than clever, so I don't hate it. In fact, I really liked it when I saw it...until I thought about it.

The OTHER major problem is that they actually show a portion of the Time War. Not a still shot or freeze frame only (though this is used and used well), but the freakin' Fall of Arcadia. The Time War was supposed to be a higher level war, fought outside normal time and space, using conceptual weapons like the Skaro Degradations, the Horde of Travesties, the Nightmare Child, the Could-Have-Been King with his army of Meanwhiles and Never-Weres. These are very, VERY evocative names and fill the mind with possibilities. So what do we see when we actually see the Final Battle of the Time War? Daleks blasting things and Time Lord Soldiers in their goofly little outfits with blaster rifles. Whoop-de-freakin'-doo. It is a TOTAL let down and a huge disappointment, especially since the "Time Lord Civilians" are all essentially extras from the costume drama being filmed two sets over. Such a disappointment because the Time War in my mind is SO much better. This is the Clone Wars all over again, really. 

Let's make things clear: I do not hate the Day of the Doctor. It is a very good story and will probably be the favorite story for a lot of people. I am not one of those people though. It is a good story in the same way that "Father's Day" was a good story: Excellent self-contained story, horrible for the continuity of the show. On the FACE Rating System, the Day of the Doctor earns one smiley face. I liked it and it has some great acting and lots of fun references, but it does not match the End of Time for me, and really disappoints on a lot of levels. 

Friday, November 1, 2013

Kotas Reviews Blue Moon Harvest Pumpkin Ale

Welcome to Day 5, the final day of Okotastoberfest! Sadly, all good things must come to an end, and thus we wind down the week with our final entry: Blue Moon Harvest Pumpkin Ale. The Blue Moon Brewing Company is based out of Colorado, and is part of the craft and import division of MillerCoors. Can a huge American domestic brewery put out a beer that competes in the craft beer market? I would think it can, given it's signature Blue Moon Belgian-style White is very popular. Let's see what we can determine about its seasonal offering.

Delicious beer or corporate swill? YOU MAKE THE CALL!
The label is another example of how to take your standard logo and branding and jazz it up for the holidays. I'm actually not a huge fan of Blue Moon. It is not an awful beer, but it is vastly improved with the addition of a slice of orange...and I am of the opinion that any beer that is only good when stuff is added to it is not really a good beer. Still, I won't turn my nose up at it if you hand it to me...and it really is pretty darn good with a slice of orange. Let's see how this "Harvest" ale compares.

The orangiest of the five reviewed this week!

Another beer that has a pretty faint scent. I'm beginning to think it might be the glass I'm using, but hey, what do I know. The scent carries a hint of pumpkin, which really shouldn't surprise me. It has a nice orange color and just a touch of head on the pour. The flavor is actually a nice pumpkin-malt combination that is refreshing on the tongue. The aftertaste is clean, but it lingers more than, say, the Sam Adams offering. It is a bit drying on the tongue, and the fading bitterness is pleasant. 

It is not a heavy beer, but it's also not a particularly light beer. Solid flavor with just enough pumpkin to let you know you are drinking a pumpkin beer. I think this would pair well with a lot of different foods, except the most delicate ones. It is surprisingly drinkable! This could easily be a nice session beer, though I wouldn't want to drink it all day. Color me surprised, this is pretty good.
On the FACE Rating System, I'd give this 2 smileys. I am actually pretty impressed that it is as good as it is, and I think I will add it to my yearly rotation. Of the five beers I've had, I think the Sam Adams Octoberfest is still my favorite, but this is pretty darn close. If you like pumpkin beers, I definitely recommend giving this a place in your glass. 

Well, that concludes Okotastoberfest for this year. I had a great time reviewing these beers. Maybe I'll do it again next year!