Doctor Who’s Deep Breath: Pros and Cons


Given that just the other day I argued that we needed to wait and see before passing any real judgment on Capaldi’s brand-new Doctor, I’m going to dig deep and try to find nice things to say about yesterday’s premiere episode instead of just ranting on ad nauseam.

And the only real way I can think to do that is by making sure to weigh down every positive with a negative. Hence, pros and cons.

I don’t think you need much more of a primer than that, so let’s get to it.

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Can Peter Capaldi Save Doctor Who?


Surely a new Doctor’s first episode is always met with a strange mixture of hope, resentment and apprehension because part of what’s kept Doctor Who on the air for so long (apart from that little decade-and-a-half-long break) is the fact that a new actor always brings a new set of possibilities to the role. And as much as you may love the outgoing Doctor, you’re always a little curious and excited to see what a new person will do. That said, the particular tension surrounding Peter Capaldi’s first episode (airing tomorrow) feels uniquely divisive. A massive chasm has grown over the last few years between fans who think that Doctor Who is better than ever, and those who think it’s never been worse. And the central figure at the heart of both arguments is showrunner and writer, Steven Moffat.

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Black Mirror Is Going to Have a Christmas Special Because of Course It Will

black mirror

Black Mirror, Charlie Brooker’s very weird, very wonderful Twitter Twilight Zone, will be back on BBC4 Christmas day. And if you were worried that the show might lose its gloomy viciousness, fear not: Brooker said he’s looking to make it a cross between the traditional “ghost story at Christmas” and the Amicus’ compendium horror movies of the 70s.

If you aren’t familiar with Amicus Productions, they are responsible for the maybe-canon Doctor Who movies starring Peter Cushing, which is a thing that happened, but are better known for Tales from the Crypt, Asylum and Vault of Horror.

So… this episode will be just like that, but with snide observations about these kids and their damn smart phones.

In reality, though, this is strangely fun. The British tradition of airing an extra episode on Christmas day of some of the country’s top shows always seemed a little weird, and often it’s an excuse to get away with telling a sappy story because it’s Christmas after all. Then all the characters can forget the lessons they learned by the time the season picks up again normally.

But I wouldn’t really have expected Brooker to offer a cuter, cuddlier version of this bleak series, which is an interesting prospect when otherwise faced with a landscape of lumpy red sweaters and togetherness and singing.

Let’s just hope he leaves the ham alone this time.


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Why Aren’t We Talking about JK Rowling’s New Work?


Remember when this site was about books? Those were the days. Remember my New York Times project? We shared some laughs. Book laughs.

Then I sold out for the bright lights of TV and film and the dozens — literally dozens — of readers clamoring for more unnecessarily vicious book reviews were left out in the cold.

As with so much of my life, my shallow descent into glitzy news coverage mirrors JK Rowling’s summer of struggle. She publishes a brand new book under a pseudonym (which, now that she’s been unmasked is mostly for show anyhow) and people mildly shrug in response. But if she writes a quick pretend news story giving Harry Potter fans an update on the famous trio, people go crazy. And then, of course, accuse her of beating a dead horse for publicity.

JK, I feel you.

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Three Cheers for Marvel: Thor Is Now a Woman


Marvel announced Tuesday on The View (of all places) that in an upcoming comic series, Thor will be deemed unworthy of  Mjolnir (or “mewmew” for any Kat Dennings fans out there), and the power will instead be bestowed on a previously unknown female earthling. The story will launch sometime in October with series writer Jason Aaron still at the helm.

While we should all brace ourselves for the usual cry of, “Political correctness!” let’s give Jason Aaron an extra pat on the back for this awesome statement:

“This is not She-Thor. This is not Lady Thor. This is not Thorita. This is THOR.”

Well played, Aaron.

Naturally it should be stated that this will almost certainly not have an impact on the movies in the near future. Chris Hemsworth has not been deposed — he and his biceps will still be gracing your screen for Avengers 2, and more than likely a third Thor movie as well — but a comic series is a great first step.

This also marks another strive toward increased inclusiveness on Marvel’s part. Between Kamala Khan, Miles Morales and now this, it’s nice to see that they are consciously making an effort to branch out and appeal to wider demographics.

Will you be picking up the new comic series? Are you stoked about the change, or concerned?

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You Should Be Watching Channel 4’s Utopia

The end of Utopia … or is it?


What do those pesky feminists want from female characters?

This debate about seems to go on forever. Not among feminists, of course, but among people who want to roll their eyes about “those feminists” always demanding that every show have a strong lead female character. Which of course is not what most feminists want from their female characters. What we want, by and large, is fairly simple: we want female characters to be people.

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The Leftovers, or Why We Need to Stop Predicting the Next Breaking Bad


The Leftovers premiered a couple of weeks ago on HBO. Based on the Rapture-esque Tom Perrotta novel of the same name, the show follows the lives of a group of small town residents still reeling from an event three years earlier in which 2% of the world’s population mysteriously disappeared. More a treatise on grief than a supernatural mystery, both the show and the book promise a lot of dark introspection without much payoff. Which is fine, depending on how that grief plays out.

The performances are good, although I would argue that while Justin Theroux’s talent at looking angry and sweaty and shirtless is unparalleled, he’s a bit of a dull lead. And, as with all TV shows, there hasn’t been enough Christopher Eccleston yet.

Whether or not people want to spend week after week (particularly in the dead heat of Summer) meditating on grief and loss is debatable, but the show does appear to be off to a good start, lead character and his potential psychosis aside.

And while professional and amateur reviews of the show have been fairly good, there’s one thing that seems to be troubling reviewers and audience members alike: Will this be the next Breaking Bad?

Was Fargo the next Breaking Bad? Was True Detective?

Is Game of Thrones the natural successor to Breaking Bad?

Will we ever get another Breaking Bad?

In a word, no. Truly amazing, transcendent TV is extremely rare. TV is absolutely getting better, to the point where film is starting to look outdated and clunky in comparison, but it’s unfair to constantly set this expectation of brilliance for every new cable premiere.

Moreover, it’s also an expectation that cheapens the thing you consider so great by expecting a natural successor to pop up mere weeks or months after the series finale.

I don’t know yet if The Leftovers will be an amazing show, just like nobody knew what Breaking Bad would become at the two episode mark. I do know that Fargo’s brilliance was blown wildly out of proportion, but I suppose that that’s another post for another day.

In any event, can we just let a show grow and develop without heaping on it some enormous pressure to be the next greatest thing you’ve ever seen?

But seriously — more Eccleston.

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Why My Magicians Piece for The Mary Sue Was All Wrong


I try not to wave the big pink flag of my gender around here too often, for the simple and unfortunate reason that it often gets me taken less seriously. You would think that a blog called Tea Leaves and Dog Ears would skew female in people’s minds (doubly so if they actually checked my About Me page), but somehow unless I actually open with, “As a woman…” people default male.

Which… I’m fine with. Sort of. I would rather have people both assume I’m a woman and take all of my arguments at face value, but for the moment that seems to be an impossibility. So if there’s a choice, I suppose I’d rather be taken seriously by randoms on the internet when I want to yell about TV shows and books (remember when I wrote about books?) than be dismissed as an idiot who doesn’t know what she’s talking about.

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SHIELD Needs to Just Let Ward Be Evil

[This post contains major spoilers for Captain America: The Winter Soldier and the last two episodes of SHIELD. You've been warned.]

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