Wednesday, July 18, 2018

The Eleventh Doctor

I'm finally nearing the end of my Doctor Who post series (what am I supposed to do when I'm done?), but for now here's the Doctor (though easily not my favorite) grew on me and took us to the 50th Anniversary of the series.



Enter the fez
Series 5
Top Story: The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang
To be fair I wasn't a big fan of this season because of Amy's obsession with the Doctor. As a result, the season (while good) was a bit slow for me.... though the Van Gogh episode was great.... I'll be addressing that in the near future. My love of this story though comes from the cyclical nature of the time travel. Episodes like this and Blink are satisfying to me, because that's the kind of time travel I'd subscribe to. Not the kind of time travel, like "The Flash", where everything can be messed up and manipulated. It was also the episode where Amy's obsession with the Doctor started to subside, so that was also very nice.
Flop Story: The Beast Below
Like many of my flop stories, this story was forgetable. Beyond how forgetable it is, I need to comment on the weirdness of the star whale. I like the whole Britain in space thing, but the existence of the space whale bugs me for some reason. Maybe it's the organism's inability to breathe in space? Or maybe it's just that it looks ridiculous? I'm not sure.
Honorable Mention: Vincent and the Doctor
I'll delve more into this when I do a post on this episode, but I loved the physical representation of mental illness. Having dealt with anxiety and depression throughout different periods of my life, this episode was able to put into words and images what I've felt. But like I said, I'll get into that one more when I post about this episode.


Always bring a banana to a party
Series 6
Top Story: Let's Kill Hitler
I loved getting a chunk of the River Song/Melody backstory. I don't exactly love that she ended up being BFFs with Amy and Rory growing up, but it was fun to see Black River flirting with the Doctor. Also great to see newly regenerated River Song bantering with him. Also, just the premise of the episode happening in Nazi Germany was great, considering very little of it had to do with Hitler.
Flop Story: The Girl Who Waited
This episode kind of drove me crazy, giving Amy an escalated future and then having her refuse to go back and fix it. In some ways it's a good metaphor for forgiveness and resentment (being unable to let go of the past), but it also annoyed me. Maybe it's just that I already don't like Amy in this period of Doctor Who, but Old Amy's insistence of not changing the past bugged me. You lost 40 years of your life and you don't want to fix that?
Honorable Mention: The Doctor's Wife
"Did you wish REALLLLLY hard?" For decades (ever since the First Doctor) it's been hinted that the TARDIS was more than a machine, a living thing. So here we actually got to see the Doctor's TARDIS in human form. It was also kind of fun to get the hint of other Time Lords. Of course, this became a bigger plot point towards the end of the Eleventh Doctor's era and into the Twelfth Doctor's time, as we got the return of Gallifrey, but it was cool to see other Time Lords teased before.


Series 7
Top Story: The Angels Take Manhattan
Is it too sadistic for me to say this was my favorite because Amy finally left? Oddly enough I'd actually begun to warm up to her. But alas, she was finally gone. The sad part was that it was also the final pre-libary appearance of River Song for quite a long time. Besides my sadicism, I like the cyclicle nature of the time travel again, with River Song's book. It was also a wonderful last major appearance of the Weeping Angels. And a good story at that.
Flop Story: Hide
This story was among the forgetable. Also with it being a very peculiar love story/ghost story left me feeling unfulfilled. In the end, the whole point of the visit was just to get a vibe of who Clara really was. Nothing else really developed from this story. Just kind of blah.
The War Doctor
Honorable Mention: The Name of the Doctor
My favorite part of this episode (especially after having watched Classic Doctor Who now) was seeing glimpses into the other Doctor's adventures: "The Invasion of Time", "Arc of Infinity", "Dragonfire", and "Forest of the Dead". I love the callbacks to Classic Doctor Who, because it hints back to the fact that this show has such a rich, extended history. In addition to Classic Who references, this episode had the reappearance of the deceased River Song. It also had the return of the Great Intelligence, previously seen in "The Snowmen" and "The Bells of Saint John", but also as far back as "The Abominable Snowmen" and "The Web of Fear". Again, more Classic Doctor Who lore.
50th Anniversary Episode: The Day of the Doctor
Even considering the 10 year gap that only had the Eighth Doctor's movie for new media, what other franchise can claim such a longstanding legacy? I remember seeing this story in theaters with some of my friends and it was amazing. The story never lost its pacing and who could have predicted the ending when all the Doctors arrived to help? I also can't imagine anything better than how the Tenth and Eleventh Doctors interacted. Also, not that the "plot holes" needed to be filled it, but this story gave us some added details to the Time War and to the Doctor's marriage to Queen Elizabeth. Writing this I realize I need to watch this again....

COMPANIONS:
Amy The Eleventh Hour - The Angels Take Manhattan
Rory The Vampires of Venice - The Angels Take Manhattan
Clara The Bells of St. John - (12th Doctor)

The Impossible Girl
Favorite Companion: I've heard a lot of complaints about her, but I loved Clara. She was spunky and fun and (at least at the start) she wasn't a romantic interest for the Doctor (and the romantic implication was VERY short lived). I also liked the complexity of her character being splintered throughout time. It brought an interesting aspect to the Doctor's previous adventures and a unique understanding of the Doctor, as she progressed forward with the Twelfth Doctor. Also, I definitely crushed on her. Above all, her story was very unique and I loved how it progressed, especially during her first season with Peter Capaldi.

The Girl Who Waited
Least Favorite Companion: I understand the whole developmental aspect of it, but I cannot get over Amy. She drove me nuts. Instead of clinging to her fiance/husband, it always felt like she was picking the Doctor over Rory. She even made a move on him the night before her wedding. She was always better with Rory around, but it still felt like Rory was sidelined for her, unless he was about to die. That's now how marriage should be. *Rant over*

This Doctor is where I know a lot of people started. What did you think of the Eleventh Doctor? Who was better: 10 or 11?

The Eleventh Doctor appeared on the Sarah Jane Adventures
alongside Sarah Jane and Jo

Thursday, July 12, 2018

A Jurassic Retrospective

SPOILER WARNING: I won't get to Fallen Kingdom till way down the page so you can read up till you see the picture of the logo and be safe.

I absolutely love the whole Jurassic series. Since the title decided to change from park to world, I think it's best to just call it Jurassic. Five movies and at least two decent video games, plus the of course masterfully written source material makes the ten year old in me give a little squee every time I see that logo.

A review of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is probably redundant by now, so I thought it would be nice to go through the film series and see how we got to where we are now, what worked, and maybe even highlight some moments in the franchise I particularly loved (Or hated).

Okay, let's go.

Jurassic Park: Introducing the Dinosaurs

Throughout the entire series there's going to be an ongoing battle for screen time between the dinosaurs and the human characters. While this fluctuates in who wins and who deserves it, I'd say the humans in Jurassic Park are the best the series would have. We get clear backstory and motivations for each character at a nice brisk pace so that when they make a decision it's clear why that character did what they did. Even the kids, Lex and Tim, who could've become a pair of Jar Jar's in the wrong hands were likable. This makes the intense scenes with the dinosaurs far more enjoyable because we love the dinos but we still want the humans to win.

The dinosaurs of course are magnificent. This was the first time CG was used at this level in a major film and Spielberg at the time knew how to combine practical effects with the computers to fool the audience into thinking they were seeing real dinosaurs. Every appearance of a new dinosaur is given this beautiful moment to appreciate the creature, as if every one is a magnificent piece of art, which they are. I will never forget being awed the first time the T-Rex first appeared. First she was talked up periodically throughout the film, then we see Tim react to seeing her with the night-vision goggles. Next is that goat leg on top of the sun roof, then we see it. Eating dinner like nothing in the world could disturb it. There's so much more that makes this scene great but just that alone was enough to know that we were about to experience something special.

If the first film suffers from anything its the extremes it needs to go to in order to put its humans in danger. Spielberg has been criticized for the jeep scene's inconsistencies, and if you think about it the whole returning the power to the park thing doesn't really do anything in the long run since they escape the park anyway, but we're not here for plot. We're here to see dinosaurs, and that's exactly what we got.

Lost World: More Dinos More Problems

Lost World Jurassic Park suffered initially from trying to get us to care about the humans. Ian Malcom goes to a different island to rescue his paleontologist girlfriend who is there playing Jane Goodall meets Wilma Flintstone. We get them and a group of disposable mains plus a bunch of mercenaries types who are capturing the dinosaurs to build Jurassic Sea World that was apparently already built before Jurassic Park but was abandoned because Hammond I guess got bored. This is poorly explained but by the time we finally get on the island it was worth the wait. This film delivers far more dinosaurs than the first, including the beloved Stegosaurus.

Our main goal ends up becoming centered around the T-Rex again, since because of reasons Daddy T-Rex is chasing our humans around the island. The raptors get a great scene involving long grass and some truly terrifying suspense as the mercenaries get picked off, but then we get what amounts to a Benny Hill sketch before we leave the raptors for the rest of the film.

The climax has been both criticized and applauded for it's sheer nonsensical awesomeness. The T-Rex is taken to San Diego on a boat that it somehow takes over and starts rampaging through the city like a miniature Godzilla. We catch it and send it home to his mate and the adorable baby T-Rex that I loved as a kid and still do to this day. A lot of people criticize this movie in general for removing the wonder and awe the dinosaurs had in favor of a chasey action/horror film, but I like it. We had the awe when we were first introduced to these things, trying to do it again just wouldn't make any sense. We've established that dinosaurs are cool, now let us see them do cool things!

Jurassic Park 3: The One With The Talking Raptor


Usually ending up at the bottom of a lot of people's list in this franchise, three was a massive stretch to get the characters on the island. A kid gets stuck on the island and a couple of suburban annoyances trick Alan from the first movie and his new sidekick to join them in hunting for the brat. I like this movie, but here's my issue: It has the least amount of human deaths than any of the other films. We get three. That's it.

Fan favorite T-Rex gets killed by an even bigger dinosaur, Spinosaurus, This is probably the saddest moment in the film but besides one raptor kill marks the end of our death count. I know it's kinda dark to harp on the death thing, but since character development and the wonder of dinosaurs are now gone this was kind of all we had left.

I will say this, even knowing that everyone is okay in the end we do get some incredibly intense scenes later. One is where we get to meet the Pterodactyls, a hole in the Jurassic franchise besides a brief cameo at the end of the last film and here depicted as something alien and terrifying.. The scenes with them escaping one giant flying dinosaur is incredible, though I call shenanigans on the fake-out death provided by Grant's sidekick.

Next we have them trying not to get eaten by Spinosaurus while river rafting at night, that was delightful, especially since a lot of the CG was ditched for practical effects. The juxtaposition between them and Ellie's kid is also a fun romp and makes Barney seem incredibly twisted.

Last but not least is the best scene with the raptors in the series so far when the humans try to return some stolen eggs. This is particularly intense because they are trying to communicate with the raptors in acts of gesture so that they don't get killed. It reminds me of a scene from Congo where they are confronted by a silver back and our hero shows submission hoping it gets the thing to back off. Some people hate that the scene is ended by Grant making poor imitation raptor noises through a wooden toy but I thought it was clever.

Jurassic World: Soft Reboot in Ridiculous Heels

Jurassic World saw the park finally open and we get to see what Hammond intended for these monsters. We get hundreds of humans for the dinosaurs to play with, plus plenty of new dinosaurs to see. The plot is still not great, but it makes sense. Someone wants to weaponize dinosaurs and so they're trying to weaponize the thunder lizards. That works, but I don't buy the idea that people are getting bored of dinosaurs. There is no way on this earth that people could get bored of seeing a giant monster that they can only see after paying a fortune to travel to an island just to get near.

The big new dinosaur is the genetic grab bag Indominous Rex. This thing makes for a great threat against the entire park as it tears through security and other facility workers. I was rooting for it to hit the gift shop areas until it broke out the pterosaur enclosure, then I was squeeing like an Anime fan as the vacationers were carried off by giant flying lizards.

The only downside are the human characters we have to get to know. As in all of them. I know people like Chris Pratt because he spends all his onscreen time Chris Pratting around, and that's okay, but he barely makes sense since apparently his work in the Navy makes him qualified to train Velociraptors. Maybe I just don't understand the Navy, but to me I don't get the connection.

Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom: WHERE ARE THE DILOPHASAURS???

Seriously where are the Dilophosaurs? They were a great dinosaur all the way back in one but besides a couple references they were never seen again. Did they die off? I know they're not scientifically accurate but I thought we were throwing accuracy out the window when Spielberg literally made up most of the traits of the Velociraptors and they're still around.

Anyway, here we get the dinosaurs we've grown to love dying en mass because apparently the island has had a vulcano that is about to erupt. Some rich guy gets ret-conned into being Hammond's old partner and is trying to save all the dinosaurs they can before the island explodes, but his evil business manager want to sell off the dinosaurs like a horrifying version of Ebay.

Okay fine whatever it gets the dinosaurs over to north America and get to play with them inside a mansion. Cool, I like it. We also get to see a few Allasauruses, which I was really into since they are Utah's state dinosaur. We also get an Indo-Raptor, which is just a smaller Indomonus Rex so he can fit inside a house. He works and I like him but I didn't like the fact that the scene where he tries to sneak up on a little girl hiding in bed stops the pacing of the movie like a brick wall. I get that it was great fodder for the trailers but it was near the climax that the whole sequence just felt forced and out of place, especially since we just saw the thing smash through a glass window to try and eat this kid.

What's your favorite Jurassic scene?

-JOE

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Spoiler-Free Ant-Man and the Wasp Review


On the heels of the epic adventure of “Avengers: Infinity War”, we had another Marvel story get released to theaters just this weekend.  My wife and I went to see it Saturday, so I wanted to share a few thoughts about it here. I’ll try to keep it as spoiler-free as possible, but if you’re super sensitive to spoilers, here’s your review: If you liked the original “Ant-Man” movie, go see it. Similar style and strong humor. Definitely a must-see movie. PSA: Two credit scenes

This movie was a breath of fresh air. I loved “Infinity War” but I don’t think anyone would argue that it was heavy and intense. Just like his origin story, this movie definitely played on a lot of humor. Still plenty of action, fights, and story, but it was light enough that it was kind of a lighter feel compared to “Infinity War” and the Marvel TV shows. And maybe it was just the week I had, but I needed a nice easy movie.

The unfortunate thing about this movie was that it came so close behind “Infinity War” that I felt like it was kind of lost in its shadow; the hype for “Infinity War” was so huge and then I felt like there was so little hype for “Ant-Man and the Wasp”. I’m certainly not Disney’s marketing team, but I would have thought it’d be a better movie for this fall, to start building hype up again for the next Avengers.

A strength and weakness of the movie was the number of complexities in the story. In some ways there were so many parties in the movie to keep track of. At the same time, the number of involved groups kind of kept things interesting and added to the comedy. I need to go see it again to keep everything straight (or not, because then it’s funny).

I guess in the end, this movie only reinforced how much I like Ant-Man as a character. His origin story is still one of my favorite Marvel movies and this one was a perfect follow-up to it and his appearance in “Civil War”. Paul Rudd is also just a great actor; he’s only gotten better since Friends. Also, again, PSA: Two credit scenes



Friday, July 6, 2018

Pokemon Theories (3)

I'm back with some more Pokemon Theories (I was gonna do a Pokemon Timeline, but it seemed redundant, since I can just cite one of the videos that I've linked later on). But anyway, here I go.

Theory: Ash never ages because of Ho-Oh. I'm not actually a huge fan of this theory (because it doesn't account for the rest of the world), but it would make sense. Anyway, in Gen IV and Gen V, Ho-Oh's Pokedex entry says "It is said that those who see Ho-Oh are promised an eternal happiness." So the theory goes that when Ash saw Ho-Oh in the very first episode of the series, he was promised happiness, which for a brand-new, 10-year-old, over-eager Pokemon trainer could likely be to keep traveling in his youth forever. Although, this wish doesn't account for everyone else not aging. But whatever. I'd more likely subscribe to each episode being roughly a day or two, which means it's been about 4 years since Episode 1. So the aging process is just subtle enough that it's not noticeable with the animation. (Source: Geek and Sundry)

There's a theory that Red (main character of Gen I games and remakes) is dead when you battle him in Gen II and their remakes. He's been at the top of a mountain for who knows how long and he doesn't say a word. So the theory says that this is actually his ghost commanding his Pokemon. However, as he appears in the Gen V sequels and in Gen VII, this theory is kind of debunked (unless you're assuming the Battle Tree and Pokemon Champion Tournament have him as a ghost too.... but that's a stretch). (Source: Reddit)

This theory is kind of extensive (I found multiple YouTube videos on it), so I'll try to keep it brief. A consistent fixture of the main series Pokemon games since Gen IV has been the Looker. Because of the sporadic timeline of the Pokemon games we kind of get his story out of order (see CandyEvie's video for an explanation of the timeline). The furthest back we see him chronologically is OmegaRuby/AlphaSapphire. At this point, he's washed up on the shore of the Battle Resort with amnesia. We get no reasoning as to this, but I saw a really good explanation to it:
OR/AS happens concurrently with Gen I and in Gen I we see a Global Police agent on the SS Anne. Could this agent be Looker? That's the theory. And then when Kyogre's storm starts raging in AlphaSapphire, the SS Anne capsized (per the anime event) and/or Looker got washed overboard and ended up in Hoenn. And it's after that point that we see him in Platinum and then Black/White, X/Y, and Sun/Moon in succession (interesting that he never pops up in concurrent games except Kanto/Hoenn). (Source: Ovi; BulbaTube)

In Kalos, as the Fairy-type Pokemon were discovered, we quickly got a Fairy-type gym leader: Valerie. We learn that she's from Johto, not Kalos. Very likely she's a Kimino Girl (or at least related to them), who use the different Eeveelutions. Bill's mother was a Kimino Girl. Especially with a 5+ year gap between Gen II and Gen VI, it's reasonable to think she could be Bill's little sister from the Gen II and its remakes. Valerie even has Sylveon, the latest evolution of Eevee, the central point for Bill (as it's his favorite Pokemon) and the Kimino Girls. (Source: Bird Keeper Toby)

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Grace in Their Failings

“Humans are odd. They think order and chaos are somehow opposites and try to control what won’t be. But there is grace in their failings. I think you missed that." (Vision, "Avengers: Age of Ultron")

When I was a missionary, we had a theme at one point based on Captain Moroni: “if all men had been … like unto Moroni, behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever.” (Alma 48:17) Keeping that hell-shaker in mind, it was unfortunate when he lashed out at Pahoran, assuming selfish motives (see Alma 60). Noting that, during my last read-through, I was really impressed with Pahoran’s response. Instead of getting offended (especially with all Pahoran was going through) he “[rejoices] in the greatness of [Moroni’s] heart.” (Alma 61:9)

Pahoran saw the grace or silver lining in Moroni's anger. He must have known, as Father Lehi taught, about opposition in all things (see 2 Nephi 2:11). Pahoran had seen that Moroni was a strong man spiritually and emotionally. He knew the intent of Moroni's heart and was able to perceive his comrade's boldness and anger  as truly being love and courage, in defense of the Nephites.


Keeping these strengths and weaknesses in mind, it occurs to me that they're two sides of the same coin. Sometimes my biggest wound is getting hurt by investing in people quicker than they invest in me... conversely, that also leads me to love people more than I would otherwise. I know people who, because of their addictive behaviors, become the best addiction therapists. With grief comes compassion. With trials come faith (see Ether 12:6).

"And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them." (Ether 12:27)

I always read this scripture in seminary in the frame of mind that weaknesses would be taken away from me. However, it was pointed out to me in a BYU religion class that the actual scripture says "weakness", which I take to mean the natural man (see Mosiah 3:19). Because of the Fall of Adam, we are subjected to a fallen world. Because of this fallen world (aka our weakness) we are given the chance to be made perfect in Christ (see Moroni 10:32-33), where through Christ's atonement we are taught and changed to where our anger and boldness can be used as "greatness of heart" for the cause of God.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Top TV Dads

Happy Father's Day! To complement my Mother's Day post from last month, I wanted to do a Top TV Dads. Too often fathers are degraded and viewed as unimportant in the media, so let's celebrate the ones who were actually good.

Takehiro Matsuki (Digimon Tamers)
To be fair, he was a bit of a permissive dad at times, seeming to want to appease his son Takato. However, he also proved to be a big support throughout the season. When Takato's mom was frantic about the Digimon, Takehiro was level-headed and trusted Takato to be safe and smart and mature. Even before he knew about the Digimon, Takato was seen having a friendly, healthy relationship with father, talking to him about school and everything.


Prince Charming (Once Upon a Time)
He missed the first 28 years of his daughter's life due to a magically-induced coma, but after the curse was broken he strived his hardest to be a good father to Emma. He struggled with the idea of having another child, causing him great fear, but he seemingly conquered that fear (despite leaving Neal behind during various adventures). Despite being the same age physically as his daughter, he and Emma were shown to have many heart-to-heart moments, including when she was grieving over the loss of her boyfriend.


Joe West (The Flash)
Let's start with the fact that he was a single father after his wife walked out on him. For years he cared for Iris on his own, being a solid male influence in her life, leading to healthy dating relationships for Iris. Now let's fast-forward to when he became foster-dad for Barry, after the death of his mother and incarceration of his father. Sure the transition was bumpy, but he developed a great relationship with Barry, supporting him, even though he didn't understand Barry's wild tales about the Man in Yellow. Their relationship was solid enough that Barry brought him on to Team Flash not long after donning the red suit. Finally, decades after his wife left, he met his son Wally. It was rough at first, trying to parent too fast, but after slowing it down, Joe was able to be a solid influence for Wally as he became Kid Flash.


Jack Geller (Friends)
While his wife is a piece of work, Jack was very compassionate and loving towards his two kids. Granted, sometimes this compassion bordered on cluelessness. While his wife was a bit more nasty towards Monica, his negligence was a bit more passive. All the same, despite his faults, he genuinely loves his children. No moment portrays this more than when he came to comfort Monica after her break-up with Richard.


Cory Matthews (Girl Meets World)
After seven seasons of life lessons of his own (plus 14 unseen years), Cory became a bit of a mix of his young adult self, his father, and Mr. Feeny. Not only was a loving father (albeit crazy and quirky) to his own children, but as a teacher he was also a father-figure to some of his daughter's friends, especially Maya. Like Mr. Feeny before him, he tried to teach life lessons all the way along through middle school and into high school.


Pete Tyler (Doctor Who)
We've got two incarnations of this character to look at, both amazing fathers. The original Pete, Rose's biological father, was a bit of a clever airhead, schemes running through his head and driving his wife crazy (not that she needed help). When adult Rose showed up suddenly with the Ninth Doctor, he was willing to sacrifice himself to set the timeline straight, all for the sake of his daughter. Now jump to the parallel universe, Pete Tyler never fathered Rose, but he became the adoptive father for her after the Battle of Canary Warf. During the battle, he risked his life to save Rose from falling into the void, despite the risks to the universe.

Solomon Moto (Yu-Gi-Oh!)
We don't particularly know what happened with Yugi's parents (his mom briefly appeared in a Japanese episode once), but Grandpa Moto seemed to raise Yugi through his teenage years (if not even earlier). Despite all the crazy battle (and all the times his soul was trapped), Solomon stuck it out for his grandson and his friends. Perhaps it was his understanding of the Egyptian origins of it all, but he was surprisingly trusting of Yugi running into battle at least half a dozen times between Battle City and the Memory World.


Who's your favorite TV dad?

Saturday, June 9, 2018

The Tenth Doctor


Been a bit of a whirlwind, starting a new job and getting acclimated. But in honor of David Tennant coming to FanX this fall, here’s the Tenth Doctor.


Series 2
Welcome back, Cybermen.
Top Story: Rise of the Cybermen/The Age of Steel
It was a close between this and The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit. I think the reason I liked this story the most has to do with how the Doctor defeated the Cybermen. I wrote a longer post about it on my personal blog, but for the sake of brevity: I got something that was powerful for me about the power of choice (agency), pain, and the purpose of life. To me, it was like the Cybermen's plans were analogous to Satan's plan for God's children.
Flop Story: Love & Monsters
The joke of all Doctor Who episodes. It was the first Doctor-lite episode and it had potential. However, the monster in this story was absurd looking. Add into that Elton's flirting and manipulation of Jackie Tyler... it was just awkward. I don't know if I know a Whovian who enjoys this episode.
I'd love to see more of these
Honorable Mention: School Reunion
Back in the Third and Fourth Doctor era, Sarah Jane Smith was a popular companion (even a favorite of David Tennant). So when she returned for Doctor Who story, it set a great prescedent for homages to Classic Doctor Who. This story also set up for a spin-off series, "The Sarah Jane Adventures", which started about 2 years later. I would love more episodes like this, bringing back Classic companions for a one-off adventure.
               
Series 3
Ladies and gentlemen, Donna.
Top Story: The Runaway Bride
DONNA! I can't say enough how much I love Donna. Despite being a Whovian Christmas tradition, I'm actually not a super big fan of many Christmas specials. This one is the exception. First of all, we got sassy Catherine Tate as a brilliant one-off companion (later to be a long-term companion). She was also (and would later be) a breath of fresh air to have a companion with no romantic attachment to the Doctor, after Rose's departure. After such a heavy season finale, the light-hearted combination of David Tennant and Catherine Tate left us with a delightful yuletide adventure.
Flop Story: Gridlock
The biggest problem with this story is that it was forgettable. I have to strain my memory to remember how this episode went. Just can't say I really enjoyed an episode, with the basis being jumping from car to car to save Martha. On the plus side, it did include the return of the Macra, last seen in the Second Doctor era. Also, on the plus side, this story did have the Face of Boe, which left the "prophecy" of the Master's return.
The Master returns...
Honorable Mention: Utopia/The Sound of Drums/Last of the Time Lords
Speaking of the Master's return, the Master finally returned in two different bodies after 10 years. Last seen against the Eighth Doctor (previously against the Seventh Doctor), we got this three-part finale to reintroduce this classic villain. The Toclafane were chilling and thrilling for me and it freaked me out when I learned their origin. This story also did a good job of wrapping up the season, pulling in elements from throughout Martha's adventures (Harold Saxon, "You Are Not Alone", Lazarus, etc.).

Series 4
Companions, assemble!
Top Story: The Stolen Earth/Journey's End
To culminate the end of the Tenth Doctor's regular episodes, the Doctor had all his allies from the past several years team up to fight the Daleks: Donna, Martha and UNIT, Sarah Jane and her friends, Jack and Torchwood, and Rose and her family. It made for an epic two part finale. And of course every fan of the Doctor will remember Donna's fate... even though she won't. So despite it being the most heart-breaking companion exit I've seen (and I've seen almost all), it was a fulfilling end... even if I hate it.
Flop Story: Planet of the Ood
Another, mostly forgettable episode. I liked the Ood a lot more in "The Satan Pit". It worked a lot better. Looking back, it kind of feels like the only purpose of this story was to set up the appearance of the Doctor-Donna and the end of the Tenth Doctor's song. Also, I really don't know how I feel about the passive Ood turning his master into an Ood.... that's an odd Deus Ex Machina, even for Doctor Who.
River's beginning and end
Honorable Mention: Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead
This story got the honorable mention because of the classic introduction of River Song. It was a long-term, complicated project for us to get River's story, since it was all out of order. Numerous fan have tried to piece her story together from her perspective, but for us and the Doctor this is where her story began. I loved this episode because it had multiple mysteries layered perfectly together: the Vashta Narada, the missing people, River Song, and Donna's disappearance.

2008-2009 Specials
As there wasn’t a new season of Doctor Who in 2009, these four specials are often grouped together.
Wish we'd have Lady Christina again
Top Story: Planet of the Dead
This story was unique for Doctor Who, at least among the specials. First off, it is the only Easter special Doctor Who has ever done (I could have used one of those this year). Also, it involved no TARDIS travel in getting to an alien world. As a result, the one-off companion never even entered the TARDIS. This was my favorite among the 2008/2009 specials because of its unique story telling. It also did a good job of leading into the Tenth Doctor's swan song with the four-knock tease.
Flop Story: Waters of Mars
This is one of those stories that I don't even remember the full scope of. I remember the Doctor showing up at a Mars space base, but I don't remember much else. It was an odd story and an odd conclusion. I get that the Doctor was fearing his death and regeneration, but they dragged out of the theme far too long. Previous Doctors never got a hint they were going to die, but this trend continued for the Eleventh Doctor and the Twelfth Doctor and it kind of bugs me.
Who is she? The Doctor's mother?
Honorable Mention: The End of Time
My favorite part of this was the return of the Master, Donna, and Donna's family. The Master's fate at this point was left vague, so it was great to see him back during the last season finale (I know we had Missy in the meantime, but I was pleased to see the John Simms version of the Master again). It was also nice to get a brief cameo of all of the Tenth Doctor's cohorts before his regeneration (According to the Eleventh Doctor in the Sarah Jane Adventures, he went to see ALL his previous companions at that time).

COMPANIONS:
Rose      (9th Doctor) - Doomsday
Mickey School Reunion - The Age of Steel
Donna   The Runaway Bride; Partners in Crime - Journey's End
Martha Smith and Jones - Last of the Time Lords; The Sontaran Stratagem - The Doctor's Daughter
Jack        Utopia - Last of the Time Lords

ONE-STORY COMPANIONS:
Donna   The Runaway Bride
Astrid    Voyage of the Damned
Christina              Planet of the Dead
Adelaide              The Waters of Mars
Wilf        The End of Time

Donna Noble!!!
Favorite Companion: If you couldn't tell by my thoughts on "The Runaway Bride", I'm a big Donna fan. After Martha and Rose's romantic feelings for the Doctor, I liked having a breather. Tie into all of that that Catherine Tate is a fantastic comedian, it gave a lighter feel to the Tenth Doctor's adventures with Donna. I also love the character development for Donna. She went from a sassy, insecure temp to the savior of the universe. That development in seeing her own worth inspires me. Add into all of that her tragic ending and it gives a fulfilling (though heart-breaking) character arc.

Martha and UNIT
Least Favorite Companion: For the record: I don't dislike Martha. I just like her the least. My biggest problem with Martha was that, in my opinion, she had little character development throughout the season. She pined after the Doctor, only to have her character development all happen off-screen in the finale. That being said, I enjoyed her character development in the year that never was and I enjoyed her when she returned the following season. In the end, I guess that's my issue... I liked her more after she left the Doctor than when she was with him.

Are you planning on meeting David Tennant this fall? What about any upcoming Doctor Who cosplays?


The (Fifth) Doctor's daughter who played the (Tenth) Doctor's daughter who married the (Tenth) Doctor