The Tenth Doctor and Adelaide

Doctor Who – The Waters of Mars Review

  • Series Title: Doctor Who
  • Story Title: The Waters of Mars
  • Story #: Season 4.5 Story #3
  • Episodes: Movie Length
  • Discs: 1 (Part of “The Specials Collection” – 5 discs total)
  • Network: BBC
  • Original Air Dates: 11/15/2009
  • Cast: David Tennant (The Doctor), Lindsay Duncan (Adelaide)
  • Format: Widescreen, Color, DVD, NTSC
  • Originally Published on my Live Journal 4/02/2010, now hosted on Dreamwidth

The previous Doctor Who special, Planet of the Dead was a typical fun, adventure type Doctor Who episode, with the exception of the hints about the Doctor’s fate. The Waters of Mars is more of a more typical horror Doctor Who episode, with a slightly claustrophobic feel and eventual hints of the Doctor’s coming fate. One interesting thing about the episode is that it is very similar, at least at the start, to “The Fires of Pompeii”. Like Pompeii, the Doctor has arrived at a fixed point in time, which means he can’t do anything about what’s going to happen. To make things interesting – this time he’s fifty years in the future. But, from the Doctor’s pov, it’s the same as Pompeii – he can’t save anyone, and he can’t alter what’s going to happen.

Despite his instincts telling him to just leave, of course, the Doctor stays on Mars, and we discover what the mysterious disaster was – an invasion of water creatures called The Flood. Any water infected by The Flood can infect a person – causing them to become deadly drones of The Flood. Before long, the Doctor and the crew of the base are trying to stop The Flood and escape. However, because this is a fixed point in time – the Doctor, and the audience, know that no one can escape. Or, rather, they shouldn’t. The Doctor should not be interfering – at all, he could cause more damage than he could fix.

Eventually, as he sees Bowie Base 1 exploding the Doctor makes a fateful decision and goes back to help. Normally, in Doctor Who, this is what we want the Doctor to do, to help people in desperate situations. However, in this case, there’s a sense that to actually interfere and even attempt to save the good people of Bowie Base 1 would have serious consequences for history, and possibly even prevent the launch of the first lightship mission into the galaxy, to be captained by Adelaide’s grand-daughter. Yet, the Doctor defies the Laws of Time anyway, saving Yuri, Mia, and Adelaide. He returns the three to Earth (all had originally died on Mars) and becomes extremely arrogant and condescending towards them. Adelaide challenges the new “Time Lord Victorious” who has decided to shape the Laws of Time to his own purposes.

“There were laws, there were Laws of Time, and once upon a time, there were people in charge of those laws but they died, they all died. Do you know who that leaves? Me! It’s taken me all these years to realize the Laws of Time are mine. And they will obey me!” – The Doctor (David Tennant), The Waters of Mars, BBC

The Doctor has never been so close to becoming The Master in all his lives. He even uses The Master’s catch-phrase from the Pertwee years (“You will obey me!” – Roger Delgado’s Master). Adelaide, terrified by this new Doctor, and realising that only her death would “fix” time, kills herself. The Doctor, seeing this off-screen death, freaks, and realises he’s gone too far – then he sees an Ood in the distance, not good. Just to top things off, he goes into the TARDIS, and the Cloister Bell is ringing – never a good sign. The Cloister Bell last heard in “The Stolen Earth”/”Journey’s End”, and before that in “Logopolis”, always spells absolute disaster – usually something the Doctor cannot control or stop completely. In “Logopolis”, it also heralded the Doctor’s Regeneration.

There are a few things I didn’t really care for in “The Waters of Mars”, – first, they are on Mars, now granted, it’s a base (like a space station), but still – it’s Mars, Why no space suits? The first thing the crew should have done when confronted with water – was to have everyone get into their space suits. This would have saved three of them at least – until the base exploded. Second, OK, the Doctor manages to save three people and returns them to Earth?! On the same day? How are they going to explain surviving and that they aren’t on Mars? You’d think all that would do would start conspiracy theory groups that believed the entire Mars mission was faked (kinda’ like the lunatics who think the US never landed on the Moon. Idiots!) And Adelaide, poor, sweet, strong Adelaide, kills herself because she thinks this will set history right? Only if the Doctor moves her body to Mars! I really didn’t think the end of the story made any sense whatsoever.

That the Doctor has gone beyond the pale and started to abuse his power as a Time Lord is something RTD has played with before. He seems to think there isn’t much of a difference between the Doctor and the Master, for example. And, it some sense, we do know from the entire run of Doctor Who that Time Lords have so much power they do tend to corrupt. (What’s that saying – power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely? Time Lords tend to be perfect examples of this philosophy). However, the Doctor has always been a voice in the wilderness arguing against the abuses of power in his own Time Lord society:

“In all my travelings throughout the universe, I have battled against evil, against power-mad conspirators. I should have stayed here. The oldest civilisation… Decadent, degenerate, and rotten to the core… Power-mad conspirators, Daleks, Sontarans, Cybermen – they’re still in the nursery compared to us. Ten million years of absolute power – that’s what it takes to be really corrupt!” – The Doctor (Colin Baker), “Trial of a Time Lord”

And the Doctor’s been just as harsh when arguing against human, Dalek, Cybermen, or other evil empires of corruption and power. I realise RTD wanted to make the Doctor more human and vulnerable, but The Waters of Mars doesn’t quite work to establish that much of a change so quickly. Overall, three out of five stars.

The Waters of Mars DVD also includes the full-length “The Waters of Mars” episode of Doctor Who Confidential. It’s very nice to see the full-length version of Confidential.

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The Tenth Doctor and Lady Christina standing in front of a wrecked red double-decker bus in the desert.

Doctor Who – Planet of the Dead Review

  • Series Title: Doctor Who
  • Story Title: Planet of the Dead
  • Story #: Season 4.5 Story #2
  • Episodes: Movie Length
  • Discs: 1 (Part of “The Specials Collection” – 5 discs total)
  • Network: BBC
  • Original Air Dates: 4/11/2009
  • Cast: David Tennant (The Doctor), Michelle Ryan (Lady Christina de Souza)
  • Format: Widescreen, Color, DVD, NTSC
  • Originally Published on my Live Journal 3/26/2010, now hosted on Dreamwidth

This review will be a little short, because there really isn’t much to Planet of the Dead. Not that it’s a bad episode of Who, or that there’s anything really wrong with the story. It’s just fairly basic. Planet of the Dead is pretty much a straight forward adventure plot. The only slight nod to something else going on is the character of Camille – a psychic, who ends-up having a warning for the Doctor. But we’ll get to that.

This story starts with a jewelry robbery at the “International Museum”. This introduces us to Christina, full name Lady Christina de Souza, who as a bored member of the aristocracy, steals for the adventure, not the money. Trying to get away from the cops after the robbery, she boards a local red double-decker bus. She’s followed on board by the Doctor. Both have bluffed their way onto the bus – Christina paying the fare with her diamond earrings, and the Doctor paying his with his psychic paper. The Doctor is trying to track down some sort of time/dimensional disturbance when the bus literally drives through a wormhole to another planet.

The cracked-up bus arrives on a desert planet, all its passengers alive and well. Because of the three suns in the sky, it’s obvious to everyone that they are on another planet, not just moved in space. Briefly, a few of the passengers accuse the Doctor of causing their predicament, but they quickly realise that the Doctor will help them out.

They also see a crashed spaceship. The Doctor and Christina go to investigate, finding fly people, and the spaceship. Eventually, the Doctor gets anti-grav clamps from the ship and uses them to fix the bus. He offers the fly people the chance to escape, but while they are debating one of the nasty stingray-like aliens is loose in the ship, causing destruction and the two fly people are crushed to death. The Doctor attaches the clamps to the wheels of the bus, and uses the ancient gold chalice Christina stole to get the incompatible drive working.

With a little help from Malcolm, a UNIT scientist, he successfully returns the bus to earth. UNIT cleans-up the few stingray-things that get through the wormhole and the Doctor helps Malcolm to permanently seal the dimensional hole so it doesn’t re-open on its own. It should be noted that Malcolm is quite possibly the best part of the entire story. He’s bright, funny, totally in awe of the Doctor (almost a “fan”) and a bit socially awkward. However, when the UNIT Captain orders him to close the wormhole before the Doctor and the bus have returned, he refuses, rightfully standing up to her.

Christina takes a bit of getting used to, but I think she could have made a good “real” companion. To me, any of the temporary companions from the various specials don’t really count as companions, including Christina. But, because of her background as a thief, she could have been a companion, like Leela, that the Doctor had to teach and train. And, I think the season of specials might have been improved by having at least one companion that traveled in the TARDIS with the Doctor. However, that also would have been contrary to RTD’s theme for the abbreviated season/series 5 which was that traveling alone is bad for the Doctor’s mental well-being. (After all, Doctor # 9 arrives back on earth, newly regenerated and companionless).

This brings me to the final point. At the end of the episode, Christina walks up to the Doctor by the TARDIS and first asks him to show her the stars. When that doesn’t work, she explains that she needs excitement and adventure and she wants to travel with him. He refuses. She practically begs him to let her travel with him. He almost relents. But then he says no, and lets her get carried off by the police (though he uses the sonic screwdriver to loosen her handcuffs and she escapes the police car and runs off). It’s after he’s refused to have her as a companion that Camille shows up to warn him.

“You be careful because your song is ending, sir.” – Camille
“What do you mean?” – The Doctor
“It is returning. It is returning through the dark.  … He will knock four times.” – Camille
Planet of the Dead, BBC

This ends up hanging over the Doctor’s head for the next three specials. I think that refusing to have a companion was a temporal nexus for the Doctor. Christina might, like Donna definitely would have, stopped the Doctor from messing-up at Bowie Base in Waters of Mars (review forthcoming). The Doctor had said at the end of The Next Doctor that he just couldn’t handle having companions anymore because they leave him, and he ends up with a broken heart. He tells Christina, “People have traveled with me and I’ve lost them. Lost them all. Never again.” The Doctor is trying to protect himself from loss and is still reeling from what he had to do to Donna (and he’s in mourning for her). Yet, he doesn’t realise just how much he needs to have a companion with him. That’s very much a Russell T. Davies thing – that the Doctor needs humans to keep him sane, and in return, he offers his human and non-human companions the adventure of a lifetime.

And because I forgot them on my last review – the special features.

The DVD contains the Doctor Who Confidential Special for Planet of the Dead.

Doctor Who – The Next Doctor Review

  • Series Title: Doctor Who
  • Story Title: The Next Doctor
  • Story #: Season 4.5 Story #1 (Doctor Who Christmas Special)
  • Episodes: Movie Length
  • Discs: 1 (Part of “The Specials Collection” – 5 discs total)
  • Network: BBC
  • Original Air Dates: 12/25/2008
  • Cast: David Tennant (The Doctor), David Morrissey (The Next Doctor)
  • Format: Widescreen, Color, DVD, NTSC
  • Originally Published on my Live Journal 3/22/2010, now hosted on Dreamwidth

“Who are you?”  – The Doctor (DT)
“I’m the Doctor, the one, the only, and the best! Rosita, give me the sonic screwdriver.” – Next Doctor (DM)
“What?” – The Doctor (DT)
“And get back to the TARDIS.” – Next Doctor (DM)
“What?” – The Doctor(DT)
“If you can stand back, sir, this is a job for a Time Lord!” – Next Doctor (DM)
The Next Doctor (David Tennant and David Morrissey), BBC

I really enjoyed The Next Doctor when I saw it on BBC America nearly a year ago, and it some ways it was my favorite of the five specials for David Tennant’s abbreviated last season. In part what makes The Next Doctor so enjoyable is that it does what Doctor Who does so well. The script is fun, yet has an element of angst that underlies everything. And once the mystery of ‘Who is The Next Doctor?’ is actually solved, you’re only halfway through the episode – and the Cybermen show up in a Steampunk tour-de-force.

The Next Doctor begins with Tennant’s Doctor’s TARDIS landing in Victorian London at Christmas. This is continuity with every single Christmas special in the Russell T. Davies new version of Doctor Who – all have taken place in London at Christmas. The Doctor is walking around a snowy London, taking in the sights, sounds, and smells, smiling and enjoying himself. He finds a street urchin and finds out its Christmas Eve 1851. Then he hears a strange noise and a woman screaming “Doctor!” He runs over to help. He is then standing right next to her, when she continues to scream, “Doctor!”, much to our Doctor’s confusion. Suddenly, David Morrissey shows up.

Our Doctor (Tennant) is confused, and it’s cut to opening credits. The first half hour of the special then is really a mystery – What’s going on in London this time? And is Morrissey really a future incarnation of the Doctor or not? But despite the fun – the feeling of “this is how someone would play The Doctor if he was told about him without seeing the show” – the tone of solving this mystery, especially the mystery of just who the Next Doctor is, has a melancholy tone from the very beginning. It soon becomes apparent that there was an accident, and the Next Doctor touched a Cyberman data storage device, which downloaded data about the Doctor into his brain, causing his amnesia and causing him to think he was The Doctor – but was that the only thing to cause his distress? Slowly, our Doctor and the Next Doctor, through returning memories, realise that he is in deep, deep shock. So much so he’s dropped, as our Doctor explains, into a Fugue State. This shock was caused by him witnessing the brutal murder of his wife at the hands of the Cybermen and the kidnapping of his son. And that’s what Doctor Who can do so well – it’s not just about fighting monsters or special effects. It’s about the drama. Here’s a man who’s lost his wife. Seen his son kidnapped. And been so shocked by it that his entire personality was submerged and he assumed a new one. Suddenly, The Next Doctor, isn’t the light adventure romp we thought it was going to be.

Meanwhile, the plot for the second half of the special has already been hinted at – and now it becomes the focus of the action. It’s Cybermen, folks. Hints of this have been given up to this point, but now the Cyber-Steampunk plot moves to the front of the plot. We meet a woman who is so vexed by the limitations placed on her sex in Victorian Britain that she finds the heads of local orphanages and workhouses and brings them to the Cyberman for the installation of the little Cyber-control ear-buds. These men then bring all the children in their charge to a warehouse to be used as a disposable workforce. Yes, you read that right a disposable workforce. Again, we’re not exactly dealing with kiddie plots here. However, once the kids show up the Cyber Lieutenant reveals his hand – the woman will be converted to be the Cyber King. However, much to his shock – she retains part of her personality and becomes a Cyber “King” who wants revenge on all the men in London for the wrongs she’s suffered as a woman. It should be noted that this is the second time in New Who a woman has been able to overcome Cyber-conversion and keep at least a part of  her own personality (In “Army of Ghosts” / “Doomsday” the female head of Torchwood resists Cyber-conversion by repeating over and over again “I must do my duty” – she resists long enough to destroy some Cybermen before being destroyed herself). Similarly, the woman in “The Next Doctor” is obsessed with the wrongs she feels she’s suffered at the hands of the men she turns over to the Cybermen. And she has no mercy towards the children she uses as a workforce. Before long a giant King Kong-like Cyber Factory is threatening London. The Next Doctor, his companion Rosita, and the Doctor fight it off. Somehow, the second half of the episode doesn’t work quite as well as the first half, even though it’s much closer to what one normally thinks of as Doctor Who. More time needed to be devoted to the woman’s motivations – What made her so desperate as to throw in her lot with the Cybermen in the first place for example? We’re left to make our own assumptions. But there are still some great moments, such as after the Doctor helps The Next Doctor (now revealed to be Jackson Lake) to rescue his son when our Doctor goes to fight the Cyber “King” by himself.

“But I should be with you.” – Next Doctor (DM)
“Jackson, you’ve got your son. You’ve got a reason to live.” – The Doctor (DT)
“And you haven’t? [They exchange a knowing and pained look] God save you, Doctor.” – Next Doctor (DM). ~ The Next Doctor (David Tennant and David Morrissey), BBC

Again, that pure angst of suggesting that The Doctor, our Doctor, has been through almost too much is palatable. But the Doctor saunters on, as always, and wins, destroying the Cyber King. Or, more precisely causing it to destroy itself.

So there is much more going on it this, the most fun and the lightest of the five specials for David Tennant’s swan song as the Doctor. I highly, highly recommend it.

The Next Doctor is available on DVD both by itself and as part of  “The Specials” collection, which also includes:  Planet of the DeadWaters of Mars, and parts 1 and 2 of The End of Time.

The Next Doctor DVD contains Doctor Who Confidential Special for The Next Doctor.  It’s the full-length version, which is a nice change from the cut-down versions usually available on NTSC discs of Doctor Who.

The Next Doctor DVD also contains Doctor Who at the Proms, which is a concert of the London Philharmonic Orchestra and the London Philharmonic Chorus at the Royal Albert Hall of music from the new series of Doctor Who, written by Murray Gold. Besides hearing a full philharmonic orchestra play wonderful Doctor Who music, there’s big screens with scenes from the series timed to the music and actors in full costume. It’s wonderful to watch.  And the amazing thing is the kids – there are several shots of the kids in the audience and they are completely enthralled by what they are seeing. Some of them look to be as young as four or five years old, and here they are, at a symphony! And completely and totally enjoying it too! Wow!

Picture of the First Season seaQuest cast

seaQuest DSV Season 1 and Series Review

  • Series: seaQuest DSV
  • Season: 1
  • Episodes: 23
  • Discs: 6
  • Cast: Roy Scheider, Jonathan Brandis, Ted Raimi, Don Franklin, Frank Welker, John D’Aquino, Stacy Haiduk, Stephanie Beacham
  • Network: NBC
  • DVD Format: DVD, Color, Standard, PAL, R2
  • Review Originally Published on my Live Journal 3/24/2012, now hosted on Dreamwidth

I first saw seaQuest on the Sci-Fi channel (back when it was the Sci-Fi channel) in daily syndication. Since I had missed the show when it aired, it was nice to catch up with it then. But, the show was like three different series with almost the same name (Seasons 1 and 2 were “seaQuest DSV”, Season 3 was “seaQuest 2032”). The first season and the best was a show more based in science – with an optimistic outlook and an emphasis on exploration and incredible undersea rescues. The second season, which I’m currently re-watching, had more of a science-fantasy approach. If your memory of seaQuest is of lots of bad CGI sea monsters, and Roy Scheider with a full beard – you saw the second season. The third season was a disaster on wheels – almost the entire cast was pulled from the series (including Scheider, who only shows up in a couple of episodes as a guest star).

The Set-Up (First season): In 2018, following a series of geopolitical conflicts and wars, “The Peace” has been established. Economic confederations rule the globe – and have turned to the Oceans, for farming, living and working underwater, research and discovery, etc. The peacekeeping force for the Oceans is the UEO – United Earth Oceans, charged with defending the fragile eco-systems of the Earth (several ecological disasters have also occurred), central organizing for the world’s scientists and explorers, and, when needed, as a military force – set to keep the peace. As the “police of the Oceans”, the UEO also runs rescue operations for the new civilian operations in the oceans: farms, mines, manufacturing, etc.

The seaQuest is the flagship of the UEO – her biggest, fastest, best-armed, and capable of diving the deepest submersible. She’s the brainchild of Nathan Bridger, a man interested in science and a member of the Navy and the UEO. During the first season, Bridger is called back to be captain of the seaQuest. Bridger had left the project when his son was killed in action and retired from the Navy and the UEO. He had moved to an island with his wife, but she soon passes away as well, leaving him alone.

In the pilot, seaQuest’s captain (Shelly Hack) has a nervous breakdown and nearly starts a war, or at the very least an international incident. The UEO desperately tries to get Captain Nathan Bridger (Roy Scheider) back. The SeaQuest was Bridger’s baby – he designed her and meant the ship to be an exploration and research vessel for science. The boat is also equipped for and expected to handle rescues in the ocean. So when the UEO (United Earth Oceans, a paramilitary peacekeeping force) contacts him to command seaQuest, Bridger says no way. But, as these things do, he’s convinced to come back and take the helm. However, Bridger’s management style is not typical Navy brass, and he doesn’t approach things from a military viewpoint. Yet, he is able to use the ship’s power and weapons when needed. A few episodes into the first season, it’s revealed that Bridger has a high psi rating – which gives him an advantage in negotiating.

The first season crew forms a nice ensemble group – and I missed that in the second season. And yes, this is the show with the talking Dolphin (Darwin) – Bridger’s “pet” whom he rescued and nursed back to health. Darwin had been caught in and washed ashore in a fishing net. However, the “talking” is given a scientific explanation for this futuristic series (set in 2018) – Lucas Wolenczek develops a “voc-corder” which takes Darwin’s clicks and whistles and translates them through a computer, after a basis of words are established. Frank Welker of The Real Ghostbusters provides Darwin’s voice. Hey, it’s no worse than Babel fish translators online. (Update: or machine translators like Google Translate. JM, 2019).

The villains in the first season were always people, or corporations, and not angry sea monsters. The issues sometimes vaguely environmental, but not over-done. Other episodes, such as “The Good Death” dealt with human rights issues. Still, other episodes dealt with providing deep-sea rescues in impossible (and big) situations. The SeaQuest was the biggest, fastest, and had the ability to dive the deepest of any ship or sub in the UEO fleet – so it was best one to send to the worst disasters. In other words, this show inherited part of its make-up from another of my favorites: Thunderbirds.

I liked the character interaction as well. Bridger, a widower, slowly began to fall for Dr. Westphalen, a divorcee with grown children. Bridger also became pseudo-father to 16-year-old Lucas, wunderkind and computer genius, but not nearly as annoying as Ensign Crusher. So Bridger, the man who had lost his wife and son at the beginning of the series, was beginning to form a new family – on the seaQuest. And, in a sense, the entire crew could be looked like a family, though it’s almost cliche to say it. I also liked Krieg, the morale and supply officer (think Klinger without the dresses) who had been married to the ship’s third in command, Katie. And the wonderful Ted Raimi plays the ship’s communications officer, who is also an expert in languages.

The first season of seaQuest had a wonderful optimistic quality to it. The boat, seaQuest, was a research and exploration vessel that participated in rescue missions as well. In many ways, it was an undersea Star Trek. I wish the show had stayed that way!

The show was fun – and I wish they had kept the first season cast and concepts for the entire three years. I flew through watching this series – watching four discs this past weekend and having two marathon sessions of watching a full disc (4 episodes) on Monday and finishing up on Tuesday.

A note on versions: I bought the PAL set because it’s single-sided discs in a six-disc set. According to the notes on Amazon, the US version is four double-sided discs. I hate double-sided discs! Copy quality was nice and crisp – I love actual film, as opposed to videotape! However, to watch the version I bought one does need to have a region-free and multi-system DVD player that’s capable of correctly outputting a PAL signal to a US (NTSC) TV.

DVD Extras are minimal and consist of deleted scenes on nine episodes. Also, Dr. Robert Ballard’s facts about the oceans and science on the ending credits are intact.

Batman and Harley Quinn

  • Title: Batman and Harley Quinn
  • Director: Sam Liu
  • Date:  2017
  • Studio:  Warner Brothers Animation
  • Genre:  Animation, Action, Comedy, Fantasy
  • Cast: Kevin Conroy, Loren Lester, Melissa Rauch, Paget Brewster, Kevin Michael Richardson, John DiMaggio, Robin Atkin Downes, Rob Paulsen
  • Format:  Color, Widescreen
  • DVD Format:  Blu-Ray

“Nuh-uh, I’m done with capes and tights and masks.” – Harley Quinn

“I’m not saying I don’t want to, ’cause that could be nice. All sorts of wrong, but nice.” – Nightwing

“Like you’ve never made out with a super-villain.” – Nightwing, under his breath to Batman

I really enjoyed this animated movie, in part because it is very humorous. It’s funny and makes for a nice break from the more serious animated and live action Batman films. This also seems to be set in the Batman: The Animated Series universe bringing back Kevin Conroy as Batman, Loren Lester as Nightwing, and with Melissa Rauch doing a good version of Arleen Sorkin’s Harley (additionally she’s in her B: TAS costume).

The story opens with a break-in at Star Labs, Poison Ivy and the Floronic Man are attempting to steal some information. Ivy downloads a file about Dr. Alec Holland. Batman investigates later and discovers the theft of information. He sends Nightwing to find Harley Quinn, hoping she will lead them to Poison Ivy. Batman notes that Harley went off the grid after being released on parole and that it’s rumored she “went straight”. Meanwhile, Batman heads to ARGUS where he finds out that a scientist who’s an expert in bio-weapons has disappeared.

Nightwing finds Harley at “Super Babes” a Hooters-style restaurant with the waitresses in skimpy superheroine and female supervillain inspired uniforms. They serve superhero or villain inspired food as well. When a customer grabs Harley’s butt, she smacks him down, hard. When he complains that “the broad broke my frickin’ arm”, the manager points to a sign that says: “Look all you want but don’t touch”. Nightwing then follows Harley home. He tries to convince her to help, but Harley fights him and fights well. She finally knocks him out with “low-grade Joker venom”.

Nightwing wakes tied to Harley’s bed. When Nightwing wonders why she’s working at Superbabes, Harley points out she can’t get a job as a therapist or anything else because of her nefarious history. Harley puts the moves on Nightwing. Later the two are caught by Batman.

Batman explains in the Batmobile to Harley and Nightwing that Ivy and the Floronic Man are working together to turn all people to hybrid plant/animal people. He tells them about the kidnapped scientist. After a chase scene where Harley goes after Bobby Liebowitz who made her mother cry, where Batman stops Harley from beating him too badly, Harley returns to the Batmobile to help out. She has them take the expressway towards Blüdhaven. They arrive at the henchmen’s club. Harley talks to Shruby then tells Batman she has to do something. She then goes to the stage and belts out Blondie’s “Hanging on the Telephone” to thunderous applause. During her number a Cat Man does the Batusi behind Batman’s back, Batman knocks him out with one distracted punch. Nightwing dances with one of the many women in the club. Harley drops the mic after her number. The room erupts in applause. Harley gets the information from Shruby and tells Batman and Nightwing. It looks like the henchmen won’t let them leave but in a shot from outside we see words briefly describing the fight, then Batman, Nightwing, and Harley in the Batmobile again.

The Batphone rings in the car, it’s Booster Gold who explains the heavy hitters are busy and most of the rest of the heroes are “at that Christening at Aquaman’s place” but Booster could send some truly C-list heroes. Batman and Nightwing tell him they’ll handle it and then fake the call dropping, which Booster notices.

Batman, Nightwing, and Harley make it to the place where Poison Ivy and the Floronic Man are holding the scientist hostage. Ivy is using her pheromones to control the scientist. There’s a fight, and then a fire breaks out. Nightwing and Batman barely survive the fire and find Harley with the scientist. He’s dying, and Harley is comforting him. He tells them that Ivy and the Floronic Man were heading to Louisiana because they need the exact water that created Swamp Thing for their plans.

The Floronic Man has Ivy eat a tuber that came from Swamp Thing – this connects them to The Green and they are able to travel to Louisiana via the Green. Meanwhile, Batman wants to leave Harley and only take Nightwing with him to Louisiana. Harley flips out but convinces them they need her. The three take the Batwing to Louisiana. There, they are joined by troops of some kind.

Harley does “betray” Batman, knocking him off a short tree bridge into the water. But she goes to Poison Ivy and tries to talk her out of her plan. Harley then releases Nightwing and Batman who have been tied up. Batman and Nightwing fight the Floronic Man while Harley fights Poison Ivy. This doesn’t go well. Finally, Harley goes to Ivy and tells her she’s going to use the “nuclear option”, she takes off her mask and makeup – and cries. Ivy is convinced. But the Floronic Man grabs the formula that Ivy has perfected. The Floronic Man and Poison Ivy fight each other. Floronic Man knocks out Ivy, but just as he’s about to release the formula – Swamp Thing arrives with quite a flourish. He simply threatens the Floronic Man telling him he’s endangering the balance of The Green, then he disappears. As Harley says, “That was a whole lot of nothing”.

Batman, Nightwing, Ivy, and several troops are still wondering what to do – when Harley asks for a match. The end credits include a scene of the Floronic Man with his bottom on fire.

I really enjoyed this movie. It’s lots of fun. There is a lot of visual humor – such as the scene at Super Babes and all the henchmen hanging out at the nightclub where Harley takes Batman and Nightwing. I also really liked how Harley is treated in this story. She is attempting to “go straight”. Because of her record, she can’t get a real job despite her psychiatrist training. Yet throughout the film, Harley is actually helping. We even see her treating the scientist with compassion when he’s dying. And when she does “betray” Batman it’s more because she wants to give her friend Ivy a chance to change her mind about her horrible plan, which could destroy all life on Earth if it went wrong. Harley’s performance at the club is also great. Yes, it’s “sexy” but she’s in complete control of her sexiness and clearly enjoying it. The movie also shows and has her talk about to Nightwing, how much she doesn’t enjoy being ogled, pinched, slapped, and goosed at Super Babes. Overall, it’s a fun film and I enjoyed it. Recommended.

Book Review – Batman 66 Meets Steed and Mrs Peel

  • Title: Batman ’66 meets Steed and Mrs Peel
  • Author: Ian Edginton
  • Artists: Matthew Dow Smith, Wendy Broome, Jordie Bellaire, Carrie Strachan
  • Collection Date: 2017
  • Publisher: DC Comics and Boom! Studios
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 01/07/2019

This is an excellent crossover. Batman ’66 Meets Steed and Mrs Peel manages to stay true to the feel of both of the TV universes it is based on: the 1966 Batman television series and the British The Avengers series which featured Patrick McNee as Steed and Diana Rigg as his best-known companion, Mrs. Peel. Other partners for Steed included Cathy Gale played by Honor Blackman and Linda Thorson as Tara King. But this volume has Batman and Robin meeting Steed and Mrs Peel. The graphic novel includes rhyming couplets for each chapter, just like the Batman television show, and alliterative narration at the beginning or end of chapters.

The story opens in a Gotham art gallery where Bruce Wayne is mixing business and pleasure by showing around Michaela Gough. Miss Gough’s company is soon to enter into a partnership with Wayne Enterprises, so Bruce wants to get to know her a little bit. And the gallery is displaying the White Star Diamond on loan from the British Royal family. It’s one of the largest and most pure diamonds ever discovered. While admiring the diamond, Catwoman arrives with her “cat-men” henchmen. The Cat-men wear tiger stripe jackets and hats with cat ears and have the names Whiskers, Fluffy, and Tibbles. Arriving soon after Catwoman is Steed and Mrs Peel. They help foil the robbery and help to arrest Catwoman. Bruce also activates his signal watch – and Robin and Alfred (dressed as Batman) arrive, but not until after Steed and Mrs Peel stop Catwoman.

Catwoman is taken to GCPD headquarters and put in a cell. Batman (now Bruce Wayne) and Robin formerly meet Steed and Mrs Peel. Commissioner Gordon introduces them as British agents, known by his cousin, Chief Inspector Gordon of Scotland Yard. Batman and Robin discuss a series of robberies of exquisite jewels of unparalleled clarity and value. They decide to interview Catwoman to find out more about who hired her, only to discover Cybernauts are attacking Catwoman. Batman used Bat-anti-oil to rust the Cybernauts, while Robin lures the Cybernauts into fighting each other. Once the metal men are defeated, they interview Catwoman and discover she doesn’t know anything – not even who hired her.

It is revealed that the diamond on display in Gotham was a fake, with the real one still in the Tower of London. Our four heroes attempt to follow the Cybernauts back to their controller but are confused by a bank of fog released as cover by Lord Marmaduke Ffogg. Batman does ask Steed and Mrs Peel to come to the Batcave but knocks them out with Bat-gas so they won’t learn the secret location.

Yet, no one notices that Steed had a homing beacon pen slipped in his pocket by Miss Gough when she fainted at the art gallery earlier. Cybermen attack the Batcave and our four heroes inside but Batman, Robin, Steed, and Mrs Peel manage to fight them off. Batman figures out a way to track the Cybernauts tracking signal from the pen slipped into Steed’s pocket. Ffogg and Michaela head back to the UK in a dirigible but it’s slow. Steed and Robin take the Bat-copter and Batman and Mrs Peel take the Pat-plane in pursuit. It’s a lively chase, and some of the Cybernauts are defeated, but Micheala and Ffogg escape. She’s also working with Mr. Freeze.

Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson travel incognito on a commercial flight to England, where they meet Steed and Mrs Peel at the airport. They head to the Tower of London where the White Star diamond should be on display. But the display room is cold in spots. Mrs Peel discovers a refrigerator unit under the diamond display case. Bruce Wayne opens the case then smashes the diamond – it’s ice. the Cybernauts attack again, but the Bat-Anti-Oil no longer works, they’ve been upgraded with a polymer coating that resists the anti-oil formula. However, our heroes use the freezer unit to freeze them so the Cybernauts no longer work.

Escaping the Tower of London, our four heroes head to Ffogg Manor. Batman and Mrs Peel meet a deathtrap where they nearly fall into boiling split-pea soup. Robin and Steed are nearly dropped into liquid nitrogen. But both escape. They confront four Cybernauts disguised as young women (apparently from a previous adventure Batman and Robin had with Ffogg). They defeat the Cybernauts, Mr. Freeze, and track down Michaela. It turns out she blames Steed and Emma for the loss of her father. She’s also planning on using the stolen diamonds (including the White Star diamond) as storage for computerized information to resurrect her father as an independently-thinking Cybernaut, with his own thought patterns and memories. But it turns out Michaela is actually a “thinking Cybernaut” because Gough didn’t have a daughter. She was the experiment in a more-advanced Cybernaut. Our heroes stop her together. She’s shut down, but mention is made of bringing her back in more controlled conditions.

I enjoyed this book very much. As I stated before both the Batman and The Avengers TV universes are handled well, and they mesh perfectly. The plot moves along, and although we see little of Catwoman (she basically disappears after the first few chapters) we do get Mr. Freeze and Lord Ffogg, whom I’m assuming is from the Batman ’66 universe. For The Avengers, we get their best-known villain, The Cybernauts. The artwork reflects the style of both universes, though in my copy I thought the colors weren’t quite as bright as they should be. Still, I highly recommend this book. It is an enjoyable, light, fun, read.

Book Review – Doctor Who: Operation Volcano

  • Title: Operation Volcano
  • Author: Andrew Cartmel, Ben Aaronovitch (creator – Countermeasures characters), Richard Dinnick
  • Artists: Christopher Jones, Marco Lesko (colors), Jessica Martin, Charlie Kirchoff (colors), Richard Starkings, Jimmy Betancourt
  • Line:  Seventh Doctor
  • Characters: Seventh Doctor, Ace, Group Capt. Gilmore, Rachel, Allison
  • Collection Date: 2019
  • Publisher: Titan Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 01/02/2019

Operation Volcano is a new volume in Titan Comics occasional graphic novel series featuring “Classic Doctors” from the BBC Series Doctor Who. This volume features the Seventh Doctor as played by Sylvester McCoy on the series, Ace and the Intrusion Countermeasures Group. There is one main story in the book and two shorter stories, plus a black and white First Doctor strip featuring the original TARDIS crew. This is a new volume in Titan Comics occasional Classic Doctors series.

The main story does not start out with the Doctor and Ace just landing somewhere and getting involved in events. Rather, they are called in by the Intrusion Countermeasures Group headed by Group Captain Ian Gilmore. Gilmore actually uses a rather ingenious “dead drop” to get the Doctor’s help, and the last story in the book is Ace and the Doctor getting the message.

Professor Rachel Jensen and Dr. Allison Williams discover an aboriginal cave painting that seems to show a spaceship leaving or being ejected from a volcano, when they discover the spaceship in the Australian desert they send for the Doctor and Group Captain Gilmore. Besides the Doctor’s receiving the message being shown a little out of order (we do see him meet Group Captian Gilmore in the library) we also see flash-forwards to Gilmore being found, alive (having been in stasis) in a spaceship orbiting the Earth in 2029.

Once Gilmore, his aide, the Doctor, and Ace arrive in Australia they meet a small group of Australian soldiers, Rachel and Allison. A nuclear arms protestor shows up, with an Australian Aboriginal – they are both trying to protect sacred sites which have already been the site of a British nuclear bomb testing several years ago. Ice makers and showers are installed to beat the heat of the Outback desert. All the women are lining up to use the showers, but complain because someone’s been in the shower awhile. A man enters the building and there is an attack. The man attacks a “snake” on the back of the other man’s back and the other man drops dead. The Doctor insists that the snake isn’t a snake at all but an extra-terrestrial being, furthermore he insists it’s “one of the good guys”. The same man who destroyed the being later attacks Ace. The Doctor organizes a trip into the Outback, providing lightweight radiation suits for everyone. Ace volunteers to commune with the aliens. She discovers that they are law officers, after some criminals, and that the criminals hid their ships in volcanos on Earth then used their ability to understand any language, manipulate people, and resemble the local standard of beauty – to manipulate and influence history.

By the time everyone returns to their base, there’s been an attack. Rachel and Allison are kidnapped, the Doctor and Ace create a sand skimmer that works like a catamaran on land to escape and they organize a rescue at the other alien ship in Mexico. This succeeds but with Gilmore on the wrong side of the alien door when the ship takes off.

The Doctor and Ace are able to help the good guy aliens return to their planet, the bad guy aliens are stopped, Rachel and Allison are rescued, and the Doctor even arrives at a medical station in 2029 to pick-up Gilmore and bring him back to his office.

The second story sees Mags the werewolf return to her home planet. A dictator has taken over through unfair elections and launched a campaign against werewolves. Werewolves have to wear armbands identifying themselves, and many are just being picked up and locked away. At first, it seems Ace and the Doctor are too late to help Mags rescue her sister and boyfriend (he was Mags’ boyfriend but now her sister is dating him). However, the Doctor has plans. He embarrasses the dictator both by exposing his cruelty to werewolves and by showing him to be a coward. The people rise up against the dictator, and the Doctor promises fair elections will be held. Mags gives her sister and her former boyfriend her blessing. The Doctor offers Mags a trip in the TARDIS.

The next story is one I’ve read before, maybe in a Free Comic Day event, but it has the Doctor and Ace tricking a group of war-like aliens to leave their bunker – so they can be arrested.

And the final story is a black and white story about the First Doctor, Susan, Barbara, and Ian – though primarily about Ian, Barbara, and Susan. Ian finds something that makes him think Susan thinks he and Barbara are barbarians. But Susan tells him it’s from when they first met before they traveled together. She then gives them a tour of the TARDIS before showing them her artwork.

I liked all four stories, including the one with Susan, Barbara, and Ian. The four stories don’t fit together though. They really have nothing to do with each other. It gives the feeling that the extra stories were added to make up the page count in the book. And I could have done with the main story being longer instead.

Still, this is a great collection. Not only are Ace and the Doctor in prime form, but the Intrusion Countermeasures group, first introduced in the aired episode, “The Remembrance of the Daleks” (but without a formal name or title for the group) are also well-written and in character. I liked seeing Ace working with two women, and all three were intelligent and professional. The good guy aliens who look like red and black snakes (except when they are flying, then they look like butterflies) were really cool. And I loved how Ace and the Doctor make no assumptions about them being “evil” based on looks. Actually, it’s the other aliens who manipulate their looks to give them an air of human perfection.

The theme of looks versus actions also continues on in Mags story and it’s even, in a way the theme of Susan, Barbara, and Ian’s story. So there is that.

This is also a gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous book. All the characters from the television show Doctor Who look as they should. The artwork also has a painted quality to it. And the aliens are very cool looking, and their home planet is beautiful. The Australian desert also looks particularly pretty.

In short, I really enjoyed Operation Volcano and it is highly recommended.