I’ve always hated science fiction. A Wrinkle in Time frustrated my 9 year old mind. I groaned through Ray Bradbury in 8th grade. My best friend’s Star Trek obsession puzzled me. I didn’t watch Star Wars until I was in college. What’s more, aliens terrified me. Even as a teenager, I had nightmares if I encountered space creatures on screen.

So I’m the last person who should like Doctor Who. But ever susceptible to hype, I started watching it in May. It was weird and campy yet oddly compelling. That first day, I watched three episodes. Four the next day. My family thought I’d lost my mind, because it was all I talked about. I plowed through all seven seasons of the new series in a month plus started the classic series. Not to mention endless hours of rewatching episodes, DVD commentaries, and more.

If you’re a sci-fi phobe like me, don’t be afraid to try Doctor Who. The show exterminated my preconceived notions of what science fiction is supposed to be:

1. Aliens Are People

Doctor Who emphasizes that (almost) all species are people. Everyone from humans to Time Lords to talking trees to homo-reptilia are sentient beings capable of joy, sadness, fear, and pain. The Doctor treats everyone he meets with respect. The only creatures he kills indiscriminately are those devoid of emotion and mercy, like the Daleks or the Cybermen, and he makes exceptions even for them.

It’s a different perspective than the big-green-head, evil, take-over-the-world aliens that dominate TV and movies. By its emphasis on the equality and worth of different kinds of people, Doctor Who exemplifies what’s best about science fiction: its ability to make social commentary in an indirect yet understandable manner.

2. All The Feels

The variety of Doctor Who monsters is fun, but I stuck with the show on the basis of the character drama. I love the Doctor, because he is a desperately lonely man haunted by the death of his species, the Time Lords, and constant guilt of the collateral damage he unintentionally inflicts every time he tries to save the universe. Yet he manages to find joy and adventure in the smallest of things and can’t resist helping anyone in trouble.

He travels with companions, each of whom develop a unique, meaningful relationship with him. The companions make the Doctor relatable to the viewer. I fell in love with the Doctor alongside Rose. I was his best friend with Donna. I grew up with him with Amy. And when each companion inevitably leaves the Doctor, I fall apart. I never would have imagined sobbing into a pillow over an alien TV show.

3. Living History

Doctor Who was intended to educate children about history when it debuted in the 1960s. While it’s known more for science fiction now, historical episodes still play a significant role in the show. History buffs like me will salivate at the opportunities posed by time travel. We meet Charles Dickens, Shakespeare, and Van Gogh. We travel to Pompeii on the eve of its destruction, the London Blitz, 17th century Venice, and more. My personal favorite is solving the mystery of Agatha Christie’s 10 day disappearance in 1926. Even though the inclusion of monsters is (presumably) fiction, Doctor Who brings the past to life and humanizes historical figures in a way that few other books or movies ever do.

4. Laugh Riot

Doctor Who is a show intended for all ages to watch. It reminds me of Pixar films and even The Simpsons in that it has layers of humor. There’s plenty of physical comedy to please young kids (and, I’ll admit, me). But there are also jokes meant for adults, for readers, for film buffs, for clever people. What other show will feature Shakespeare subtly coming on to the Doctor, to which the Doctor wryly says, “And 57 academics just punched the air!”? My favorite comedic moments often feature Donna, the fourth series companion. Such as:

“Donna: I finally got the perfect man. Gorgeous, adores me, and hardly ever speaks a word. What’s that say about me?

The Doctor: Everything. Sorry, did I say ‘everything’? I meant to say nothing. I was aiming for ‘nothing.’ I accidentally said ‘everything.’”

Doctor Who never fails to make me laugh, even if I end up crying a few minutes later.

5. Intelligence Is Valued

How refreshing is it to watch a TV show that values brains over brawn? Most save-the-universe adventures feature a hero wearing tights who looks like he spends more time at the gym than a library, carries huge guns, or can run at the speed of light. The Doctor is played by actors who are unconventionally attractive and generally dresses more like a lawyer than a superhero. He is largely subject to the same physical limitations as humans. Rather than wielding a gun, he carries a sonic screwdriver and saves the world with his knowledge of science, logic, and the vagaries of “human” nature. Neither is the Doctor infallible. He makes huge mistakes and is frequently saved by his young human companions.

What’s more, Doctor Who expects the viewer to be intelligent. You can watch it for the glitz and glamour alone, but it is full of subtle clues, themes, and symbolism purposely placed to tantalize the viewer into analyzing every detail until the big secret is revealed months or even years later.

In summary

Doctor Who has something for everyone. It will make you laugh, make you cry, make you think. It has shown me that my preconceived notions of science fiction may be wrong and that I should give Star Trek or Robert Heinlein or Firefly or Douglas Adams a try. If I can tear myself away from Doctor Who, that is.

When Alison isn’t rewatching Doctor Who, she blogs about YA novels and manga on her website.

Tags: Doctor Who

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 4×15 brings the L.M.D. storyline to a truly wild end. Here’s what to expect from “Self Control”!

You don’t know what’s coming

Yeah, there’s a synopsis for “Self Control” — “Suspicion turns to paranoia when the team doesn’t know who can be trusted as more LMDs infiltrate S.H.I.E.L.D.” But that’s the equivalent of saying that Iron Man is about a goateed man who can fly.

Sure, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 4×15 answers a lot of questions about who is and who isn’t a robot. More profoundly though, the episode goes in for a final knead and punch of the ideas that have been floating around all season.

Read full article

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 4×15 brings the L.M.D. storyline to a truly wild end. Here’s what to expect from “Self Control”!

You don’t know what’s coming

Yeah, there’s a synopsis for “Self Control” — “Suspicion turns to paranoia when the team doesn’t know who can be trusted as more LMDs infiltrate S.H.I.E.L.D.” But that’s the equivalent of saying that Iron Man is about a goateed man who can fly.

Sure, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 4×15 answers a lot of questions about who is and who isn’t a robot. More profoundly though, the episode goes in for a final knead and punch of the ideas that have been floating around all season.

Free will and humanity. Sacrifice and love. The nature of reality — and even of life itself. Beneath the plot, surprises, and pain, that’s what’s really going on in the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. spring finale.

That, and the characters who get caught in the middle.

Jed Whedon is Not. Playing. Around.

Executive producer and showrunner Jed Whedon is the man behind the pen and the camera in “Self Control,” and he’s there for a reason. Whedon’s first try at the director’s chair on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is operatic, incisive, and perpetually gut-clenching.

Yes, there are lovely and disturbing vistas, an artistry that comes from a deliberate and careful eye. But more important is the unshakable Whedon impulse that animates Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 4×15, that builds through the episode like a cresting tide.

You know that unmistakable sense that someone is laughing behind the scenes? Yeah. That’s why Jed Whedon is here.

What’s next?

Well, that’s a very good question. “Self Control” leaves us with a few razor-like possibilities, all of which lead down spiky corridors of questions. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 4×15 is here to leave us thirsty for the season’s final seven episodes, and that’s exactly what it does.

Oh, and to answer your next question…

Cliffhanger?

Uh, yes. Cliffhanger.

Oh boy, cliffhanger.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 4×15, “Self Control,” airs Tuesday, Feb. 21 at 10:00 p.m. on ABC.

What are your top theories for ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ 4×15?

Have President’s Day off? Here are some movies, TV shows, and soundtracks with which to celebrate President’s Day.

‘Hamilton’


Even if you were somehow lucky enough to have already seen the musical, you might as well celebrate today with another listen to the soundtrack. In case you have been living under a rock, Hamilton is a hip-hop, rap, musical about Alexander Hamilton. Yes, Hamilton never became president, but the musical does include multiple would-be presidents. Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and even birthday boy himself George Washington are heavily featured in Hamilton. Based on the biography by Ron Chernow, you can get a history lesson while you listen to great music.

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Have President’s Day off? Here are some movies, TV shows, and soundtracks with which to celebrate President’s Day.

‘Hamilton’


Even if you were somehow lucky enough to have already seen the musical, you might as well celebrate today with another listen to the soundtrack. In case you have been living under a rock, Hamilton is a hip-hop, rap, musical about Alexander Hamilton. Yes, Hamilton never became president, but the musical does include multiple would-be presidents. Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and even birthday boy himself George Washington are heavily featured in Hamilton. Based on the biography by Ron Chernow, you can get a history lesson while you listen to great music.

‘Liberty’s Kids’


Liberty’s Kids aired in the early 2000s on PBS. Liberty’s Kids follows three teenagers from varying backgrounds throughout the American Revolution, mentored by Benjamin Franklin. It is geared for children but is still pretty enjoyable for adults. In each episode, the teenagers encounter a significant person or event from the revolution, giving a concise and entertaining history lesson. The show features many important figures throughout the revolution, showing even more presidents than in Hamilton. As one can imagine, Washington is among these.

‘Lincoln’


Lincoln is a 2012, Oscar nominated movie, directed by Steven Spielberg based on Doris Kearns Goodwin’s biography of Abraham Lincoln, Team of Rivals. Instead of a biopic of Lincoln’s entire life, Lincoln is specifically about his passing of the 13th amendment. Essentially directed between each of his science fiction blockbusters, Spielberg also made many significant historical movies, Lincoln among them. Lincoln not only shows his power as a president, but also humanizes him through an Oscar winning performance by Daniel Day-Lewis.

‘1776’


Hamilton is not the first musical about American history. Thankfully, though, because this way there are other options, one of which is 1776. Even more conveniently, the musical 1776 was adapted into a movie in the early 1970s. Heavily implied by its name, 1776 is about the signing of the Declaration of Independence. 1776 definitely has a more classical musical theater vibe than Hamilton. The strange combination of American history and musical theater allows for a humorous yet educational experience. However, as reflective of the history of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, Washington is not a character in the musical; yet, it obviously includes many other significant historical figures.

‘The West Wing’ or ‘The American President’


Unlike the other items on this list, these two are about fictional presidents. But it would be nice if they were real. Of the many politically charged movies and television shows by Aaron Sorkin, these two are specifically about presidents. If you have the day off and want to attempt to binge watch seven seasons, then you may want to check out The West Wing. The West Wing follows President Bartlet and his staff and advisors during their time in the White House. If you want a movie to help you transition between Valentine’s Day and President’s Day then The American President is worth watching. It is a romantic comedy about President Shepherd, who falls in love with a lobbyist.

How else will you celebrate President’s Day?

The first two cast members for Disney’s live-action adaptation of The Lion King have been announced by director Jon Favreau.

James Earl Jones, who voiced Mufasa in the animated movie in the ’90s, is returning as the character in the live-action adaptation. Interesting!

Meanwhile, Donald Glover — who will co-star in this summer’s Spider-Man: Homecoming for Disney and Marvel — will play Adult Simba.

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The first two cast members for Disney’s live-action adaptation of The Lion King have been announced by director Jon Favreau.

James Earl Jones, who voiced Mufasa in the animated movie in the ’90s, is returning as the character in the live-action adaptation. Interesting!

Meanwhile, Donald Glover — who will co-star in this summer’s Spider-Man: Homecoming for Disney and Marvel — will play Adult Simba.

Favreau tweeted the news Friday evening:

According to a statement from Disney, The Lion King “will build on the groundbreaking technology used in The Jungle Book to bring the story of Simba to photorealistic life.”

A release date for the film hasn’t been set. Favreau also helmed the live-action Jungle Book for the studio.

So far casting is off to a great start!